The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is partnering with Nigeria and its social partners to develop a national social protection harmonisation bill.
The Director, ILO country office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Vanessa Phala, disclosed this in Abuja while speaking at a media briefing on the occasion of the 2022 World Day Against Child Labour, which had ‘Universal Social Protection to end Child Labour’, as the theme, said there is the need to strengthen capacity of children within the legal working age, rehabilitate existing school structures and provide learning tools or alternatives, especially for children who require skills training in the informal sector.
She added: “We are partnering with the Government of Nigeria and its social partners to strengthen legal framework for social protection through capacity building on national legal drafters on developing a National Social Protection Harmonisation Bill, Revision of the recently validated revised Social Protection Policy, an extension of social protection to the informal economy.”
Making a case for the involvement of children in tackling child labour, Phala urged trade unions to give focus on the participation of children within the legal working age (children from the ages of 15-17 years), saying they should have a voice and participate in decision-making processes that affect their services and well-being at work.
The ILO director argued that it is important to extend social protection to the informal and rural economy, adding that this is a portent tool for reducing child labour in the rural sector.
According to her, the ILO and its partners will distribute starter packs to over 800 men and women entrepreneurs trained and mentored on the ILO Start Your Business (SYB) Module, to help them bring their business ideas to life, develop themselves and impact their communities.
Phala hinted that this is in addition to interventions reaching over 1,409 children with various prevention, protection and withdrawal services.
“These children have been supported with some health and educational services, such as enrolment or re-enrolment in school, school bags, school sandals, notebooks, textbooks, sandals and psychosocial support to those unfairly exposed to child labour and traumatised,” she said.
On his part, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who linked the scourge of child labour to poverty, assured that the Federal Government was vigorously implementing its numerous social protection programmes to better the lives of parents and children.
The minister described the current upheavals in the country, including Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and menace of unknown gunmen, as a rebellion of the have-nots against the big men and the uneducated against the educated.
Ngige also lamented that over N2 trillion out of the country’s N3.7 trillion wage bill goes to the payment of salaries of workers in the health and education sector alone, alleging that there are obvious leakages that should be plucked. He maintained that the introduction of IPPIS by the Federal Government was part of the efforts to stem the trend.