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Child labour in Nigeria Child labour remains a major source of concern in Nigeria today, in spite of legislative measures taken

by government at various levels. In 1998, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that 24.6 per cent of children between the ages of 10 14 in Nigeria were working (World Development Indicators 2000). It Is sad to note that one of the touching reminders that we are a poor country is the deluge of children on our streets selling different items to passerby, children under the age of 18, through circumstances beyond their control, are left to fend for themselves, and often for their parents as well, through the money they make working on the streets. (Publication of Wednesday 23, 2010, BusinessDay Newspaper). Research has it that parents and guardians who push their wards towards paid and unpaid labour do not do so as a matter of preference, but usually do so because they are left with no choice. It is indeed a ridiculous sight in most big cities in Nigeria as well as rural villages to see children of school age trading food on the streets, herding animals, fetching water for commercial purpose, washing dishes at restaurants, among others. According to the International Labour Organisation, the number of working children under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. Research has shown that these children display very poor educational achievements and they suffer from fatigue, irregular attendance at school, lack of comprehension and motivation, improper socialisation, exposure to risk of sexual abuse, high likelihood of being involved in crime. The rise in child labour in Nigeria The rise in child labour in Nigeria today is alarming. Research has it that increase in poverty in the country has driven millions of children into exploitative and hazardous labour. It is not far from the truth if one concludes that the rise of child labour in the country is associated with poverty, rapid urbanisation, breakdown in extended family affiliations, high school drop out rates, and lack of enforcement of legal instrument meant to protect the children, and until concrete measures to tackle and reduce poverty in Nigeria are carried out, child labour will continue to stare us in the face. It has also been discovered that, the death of one or both parents of some children has also brought rural-urban migration, which has forced these children into doing all sorts of jobs. We must admit that the prevailing abject poverty faced by most parents is the major factor that forces parents to send their children to hawk on the streets or to be involved in other forms of hard labour instead of allowing such children to go to school. The truth is that as much as some parents appreciate the importance of education, these parents are so poor that they cannot afford to buy school uniforms and other necessary learning materials like books for their children. Again the problem of high rate of joblessness in the country amongst parents has also been pointed out as a major factor causing the rise in child labour today, because it leaves the parents with no choice than sending these children out on the streets.

A research jointly conducted sometime by three world bodies concerned with the promotion of children welfare has indicted Nigeria for not doing enough to discourage child labour. According to the joint investigation carried out by United Nations International Childrens Fund (UNICEF), United State Agency for International Development (USAID), disclosed that 39 per cent of children aged between 5 and 14 years in Nigeria are engaged in child labour. (www.ipledge2nigeria.com). The research which involved interviews with children living or working on the streets indicated that 40 per cent of them may have been given out to such forced labour or trafficked by their parents or relations. Also about 40 per cent of the children do not attend primary school. It is indeed a sad commentary that the Nigerian child appears to have been sentenced to a perpetual suffering, deprivation and wanton neglect due to acts, omission or commission by various governments over the years. The point is that not much attention has been given to our children by the countrys policy makers. In 2006, UNICEF in its report on child labour in Nigeria, reveals that a staggering 15 million children under the age of 14 were working across Nigeria and that many were exposed to long hours of work in dangerous and unhealthy environments. These children, according to report carried too much responsibility for their age. The report states that about 6 million working children in Nigeria, equally split between boys and girls, do not attend school at all, while one million are forced to drop out due to poverty. Over 8 million children manage to stay in school and work in their spare time to pay educational fees. Due to high demand at work these children often skip classes for one form of job or the other (Nigeria Tribune, Wednesday, June 16, 2010) (This day Newspaper 03,August 2010). Effect and implications of child labour in Nigeria Child labour in Nigeria has been accepted by many as part of normal life, but the practice is only an aberration which takes away the innocence of millions of children, it is a threat to the future of the country. It is important to note that these working children are prone to abuse and exploitation. They are often victims of their employers. Many children today who are destined for greatness have had their dreams and bright future often ruined by the compulsion to earn little money. In some cases they are rendered unhealthy and uneducated. Many of these child labourers would have died (many of them have been knocked down by vehicles) before reaching the age of 18, and not even have made any impact on the nations future. On the economy of Nigeria, child labours may affect the nations economy in a negative way, because job positions that require an education may go unfilled. It is vastly assumed that in the long run, child labour will not help promote and aid economic growth. While child labour may not have much effect now on the nations economy, they will play a role in shaping the country when they grow up. This is a major reason why the menace of child labour should be tackled now. In order to have educated, healthy, contributing member of the society later, hence, it is necessary to eliminate child labour now before the economic effects start to show up.

Furthermore, child labour exposes these children to various hazard ranging from risk of accident, kidnapping, physical violence, they are also exposed to different kinds of weather (extreme cold or heat), insect bites, hunger and deprivation. Some are even sexually exploited and forced into prostitution with risk of unwanted pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted infections Curbing child labour in Nigeria Going by the current trend at which child labour is on the rise in Nigeria, if serious and adequate measures are not taken to curb the situation, Nigeria may lose her vital part of its population to the menace. To solve the problem of child labour, it has been suggested that government must be committed to progress in some key areas. The government of the day should be very interested in the cause of reducing child labour in this country to its lowest ebb. The governments at all level should endeavor to reverse this ugly trend by putting in place effective measures, which should include judicious use of public funds and the creation of economic opportunities to reduce poverty and to empower Nigerians. This will enable parents to have adequate resources not only to feed their children but also to send them to school, thus eliminating the need for child labour. The government should also make provision for compulsory free education, free medical services for these children. If these measures are adopted and properly implemented, they will go a long way in reducing child labour and giving our children good health and consequently provide a more future for them and the country. Conclusion The essence of this work is to create awareness to the government of the day, that the future and economy of the nation may be at risk if adequate measures are not taking to reduce the rapid increase of child labour in the country. Following the statistics of the number of children on our streets doing one menial job or the other, this has becomes worrisome. It the responsibility of the government to ensure that laws prohibiting any form of child labour is implemented. The government should also ensure that it implements all the measures stated above to curb the rise of child labour in Nigeria.