The Federal Government is investing billions in social protection to fight poverty in the country, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, sayd.
He told newsmen on the occasion of the 2022 World Day Against Child Labour, on Thursday in Abuja.
The event was themed; “Universal Social Protection to end Child Labour.”
Ngige however, described the billions of Naira spent by the Federal Government on social protection programmes as triple vaccination against poverty.
He said that the Federal Government was vigorously implementing its numerous social protection programmes to better the lives of parents and the children.
According to him, everything possible is being done to sustain the social protection programmes in spite of Nigeria’s dwindling revenue.
He noted that poverty was fueling child labour, especially in developing countries, but expressed optimism that the scourge could be eliminated through establishment of social protection floors and programmes.
He said that his ministry and other members of the National Steering Committee on the Elimination of Child Labour were calling for increased investment in social protection programmes and schemes.
He added that this would establish solid social protection of children from child labour.
He explained that social protection programmes were essential in the fight against poverty and vulnerability, identified as the causes of child labour.
“Children engaged in this (child labour) are badly endangered and that is why the government, through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, in collaboration with the ILO and other stakeholders, have been working assiduously.
“They are collaborating to ensure the elimination of Child Labour in line with SDG 8.7, and that young workers of legal working age are protected and work in safe conditions,’’he said.
According to the minister, the government is vigorously implementing the National Children School Feeding Programme (NCSFP), which is the major plank of the battle to fight child labour.
He said this was aimed at increasing children school enrollment and preventing them from dropping out of school.
He said the children were being fed with proteins and nutritious food for healthy growth and also to keep them in school, while providing jobs for their parents as farmers, traders and cooks.
According to Ngige, the government is also investing billions of Naira on the Universal Basic Education, which is enabling children to have free primary and junior secondary school education, and curb child labour.
He said poverty was also being addressed through the conditional cash transfer programme, Trader moni and N-power programme.
Ngige said others were the diversification of the economy into agriculture through Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) and the Technical Education Vocational Training (TVET) scheme.
He said the government has been trying to sustain all these programmes in spite of the declining revenue.
“The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) shows that in 2023, if we continue with business as usual, without blocking leakages of oil theft, without functional refineries and removal of oil subsidy, we will have zero capital budget allocation.
“The economy will be prostrate. It is the capital projects aspect of economy that puts money in production. Every money in recurrent is for consumption.
“It doesn’t create jobs. Our earnings before and now are not the same. It calls for concern,’’ he said.
He called on developed countries and the big corporate organisations in Nigeria to support the fight against child labour in Nigeria through investment in social protection.
Also, Ms Vanessa Phala, Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) country office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierrra Leone, described the current situation as very serious.
Phala said recent ILO research, in partnership with UNICEF on the role of “Social Protection in elimination of child labour, revealed that 1.5 billion children worldwide, aged 0-14, received no family or child benefits.
She also noted that more than 160 million children aged five to 17 years, were still engaged in child labour, and progress had stalled since 2016.