By Chukwuma Umeorah
As part of efforts to curb the high rate of child Labour in Nigeria, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), in collaboration with the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa, (ACCEL) on Friday in Lagos unveiled the “Child Labour Guidance Tool for Businesses in Nigeria.”
The ILO reported that not less than 15 million children are engaged in child Labour in Nigeria. The figure makes up about 43 percent of total population of children in the country.
Speaking at the official launch of the Guidance Tool, ILO Country Director, Vanessa Phala emphasized the need to strengthen the advocacy against engaging children in hazardous works that could be harmful to their physical and/or mental health.
She said: “Employers should conduct their businesses in a way that promotes the fundamental principles and rights of Children. It is a collective responsibility in which we all have an important part to play in the global campaign to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 8.7.”
She called on Human Resource practitioners who are involved in carrying out recruitment for businesses to be deliberate in their responsibilities, in adherence to the Code of Conduct (CoC) for Private Employment Agencies (PEAs) in Nigeria while ensuring protection of children within the legal working age under the ILO convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989.
Vanessa advised businesses who engage child Labour in order to save cost to desist from the ugly act as it only exposed the children to danger and by extension makes the society more vulnerable.
Phala stated, “Child Labour gives the false impression of cost saving, whereas, it actually jeopardizes our collective safety by exposing children to hazards, hampered value for education, trauma, and other vices, while denying qualified adults the opportunity to work and fend for their families.
“In addition, child labour breeds the perceived loss of freedom in an environment in the mind of a victim, fueling a psychological reaction in response to perceived threats.”
Highlighting some of the strides the international Labour body has taken in the past, Vanessa expressed optimism while reassuring that the new Guidance Tool for Businesses in Nigeria, if well implemented, will yield positive results at eliminating child Labour.
The president of NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi represented by the First Vice President, NECA, Kunle Oyelana in his remarks said that the The Child Labour Guidance tool for Businesses in Nigeria is a practical tool that will provide huge insights on the steps to be taken by companies to address Child Labour impacts in companies and their global supply chains.
He described it as a milestone in the ongoing efforts aimed at eliminating child labour in cocoa and artisanal small-scale mining sectors through the ACCEL Africa project.
Oyelana expressed optimism that the approach will be effective, “We are optimistic that these interventions will contribute to the achievement of SDG 8.7 and goals of ACCEL Africa.”
He stated further that business in Nigeria should be responsible in meeting the expectations to respect children’s rights in compliance with Section 1 of the Child Rights Acts which state, ‘in every action pertaining a child, whether undertaken by an individual, public or private boy, institution of service, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.’
He reiterated their commitment towards the advocacy of good employers’ practices, “NECA, as a premier Employers’ Association and the Voice of Business in Nigeria, would continually advocate and create awareness amongst the actors in the supply chain, about adverse hiring practices of suppliers and the benefits of responsible businesses without child labour. We strongly believe that employers should be at the forefront of promoting best practice,” he said.