Monday , 25 January 2021


By Charles C. Opara

In just about every city, you find them on the streets hawking at rubbish heaps, scavenging, in workshops as apprentices, and the most silent of the all, in haven as domestic servants. All over the country hundred of thousands of children labour for bread and board in Nigeria. No one knows exactly how many underage children work.

“Unfortunately, demographic figures place the number at a ridiculous figure of 7% of children, aged between 10-14years.”  Sarah Oloko says, a professor with the University of Lagos who has carried out several studies on the phenomenon of child labour.

Oloko believed that two factors may have been responsible for child labour in the last census 2011. These factors she says, are the definition of work which “many have been conceptually misunderstood” by the respondents and the categorization of respondents. For instance, student was placed as a different category, and it is common knowledge that many of the children involved in child labour sometimes go to school.

The question is, what is child labour and  is it a problem in Nigeria? These are the question one set out to answer. Child labour has been defined as “the excessive engagement of the child either paid or unpaid, directed at alleviating adult burden outside or inside the home, to make a living for himself or to help the adult make a living, “However an easier way to measure child Labour might be to use Article 32 of the united Nations Convention on the rights of the child which recognises the right of the child to be “protected from work that is likely to be hazardous or to entertain with the child’s education or be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development”

In Nigeria, most of the child labour that goes on does so the semi-formal and internal sectors. Some Nigerians discovered that these areas are some what hidden. Among  the various facets of child labour examined were child trafficking, child prostitution, exploitation domestic labour, expansion to hazardous industrial work in quarries, mines, mills, welding, blacksmithing and tanning. There are two major categories that are being responsible for the confined high incidence of child labour in Nigeria –

  • Poverty
  • Ignorance

In terms of location and timing, the behavioral patens of groups in extreme situations such as fishermen, nomads and traders.

Massive advocacy programme were also recommended to “reach all nooks and cranies of the country especially the rural areas to sensitise the nation on the evil consequences of child labour and re irritate our people to positive values”

To combat poverty, we need to recognise Buhari’ Government in their efforts in addressing the issue, called the more affection and integrated approach.

However, the most effective way to ensure that child labour is totally eliminated would be by putting in place statutes that will ensure the protection of the child as well as ensuring that these statues are observed.

Buhari’s Government should immediately retify all the international convention that have to do with child labour.

Finally Buhari’s Government should accelerate the process of becoming an IPEC (International programme for the elimination of child labour), is a programe set up to help countries toward the total elimination of child labour, by providing technical aid and basically supporting direct action by partner Government to eliminate child labour in the countries.


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