Cross River Dismisses Ranking by NBS on Child Labour as Unrealistic

Bassey Inyang in Calabar

The Cross River State Government has dismissed as untrue a survey report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which claimed that the state has the highest incidence of child labour in the country.
The NBS stated in the report that of the 24.6 million children in child labour in Nigeria, Cross River recorded the highest incidence of 67.4 per cent, followed by Yobe with 62.6 per cent.

In the survey entitled: ‘Nigeria Child Labour Survey 2022’, the NBS rated Lagos State as having the lowest incidence of 8.9 per cent.
The NBS described child labour as any work that robbed children less than 18 years of age of their childhood, potential, and dignity or had a deleterious impact on their physical and mental development.
It stated that its survey showed that children between the ages of five years and 17 years were engaged in economic activities that amounted to child labour in Nigeria.

But dismissing the report in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Erasmus Ekpang, said the figures released did not represent the true position in Cross River.
He said the figure for Cross River was not tenable since the government had put measures in place since the assumption of office in May 2023 to discourage child labour and to uplift vulnerable segments of the population.

He explained that the measures put in place centred on health, education, agriculture, and other empowerment initiatives.
Ekpang stressed that the government had also put in place programmes that empowered women economically and discouraged them from sending their children and wards out as child labourers.

“Women are empowered to take care of themselves and their families. Youths are also not left out of these policies and programmes.
“The initiatives are mostly in the areas of agriculture and small-scale enterprises.
“We also initiated programmes like school feeding to retain every child in school,’’ he stated.
Ekpang advised the NBS to revisit its 2022 figures and make amends.

The NBS report also stated that more than 14 million affected children were engaged in hazardous work.
The survey also showed that child labour was considerably higher in the rural areas, with 17.5 million or 44.8 per cent of children involved.
In the urban areas, however, only 7.1 million children, or 30 per cent were involved in child labour.
Hazardous work is also more frequent in rural areas, according to the NBS.

“More than 10.5 million children or 26.8 per cent of those in the rural areas are in hazardous work.
“In urban areas, only about four million children or 16.3 per cent are in hazardous work,’’ it stated.
The report also indicated that the North-west geopolitical zone had the highest of 6,407,102 children engaged in labour, followed by the North-east with 4,466,808; North-central (3,884,576); South-south (3,682,773); South-west (3,227,559) and South-east (3,004,669).

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