The International Labour Organisation (ILO), and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), have sealed pact to eliminate Child Labour in cocoa, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) supply chains in the country.
The partnership is a four-year plan, funded by the Dutch Government through the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa) project, to be implemented from May 2019 to October 2022, in Nigeria.
Director of ILO Country Officer for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Dennis Zulu, commended NECA for providing a platform to amplify the elimination of child labour in global supply chains.
He said NECA played a critical role in the fight for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour by engaging in tripartite discussions, providing inputs into legislation, and encouraging the implementation of ILO child labour conventions’ principles at national, state, and enterprise levels.
He added that child labour elimination is too important to not have employers’ at the forefront, promoting good practices.
‘’We are hopeful that through the ACCEL Africa Project we can continue to strengthen NECA’s involvement in all tiers of child labour elimination, as well as NECA’s capacity to effectively eliminate child labour in supply chains in the private sector,” Zulu said.
The Director-General, NECA, Dr Timothy Olawale, maintained that the challenge of child labour globally has become worrisome and unacceptable to the Association.
He said despite Nigeria’s ratification of the ILO’s Child Labour Convention 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, and Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, there was still a high prevalence of exploitation in the informal agricultural and mining sectors.
He said it was incumbent on the body to advocate and create awareness to the actors in the supply chain, on the benefits of responsible businesses without child labour.
He said: “No nation can afford to mortgage its future leaders through unwholesome activities such as child labour. We frown at any work which deprives children of their childhood, their potential, their dignity and which is harmful to their physical and mental development.
“While poverty and unemployment are major drivers of child labour in Nigeria, made worse especially with the advent of Covid-19, it is still not an excuse to interfere with their education or expose them to forms of labour suited for adults.”
Optimistic that the outlined intervention would contribute to the achievement of SDG 8.7, and the 2021 International Year on the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria, he added that the implementation agreement is aimed at also strengthening social dialogue in the elimination of such practices.