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Child labour and human trafficking



At a recent meeting of the National Steering Committee on Child Labour, the Federal Government reiterated its commitment to stopping the social menace of child labour and human trafficking in the country.

The government pledged that Nigeria as a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations ‘should not be found behind but in the forefront of the pursuit of these objectives.’

As far as comments go, the views of the Federal Government are excellent. Sadly, much of this has not been translated into action.


Child labour is rampant across the world at this time of human history. The instability caused by different wars of attrition has not helped matters. Social norms and codes of decent behaviour are routinely discarded.

Millions of children have been deprived of the innocence of childhood because of traumatic experiences and mass migration. In such circumstances kids are sometimes exploited and used as child soldiers. Some have suffered sexual molestation.

In African countries the rate of exploiting children has increased somewhat. Most of the peddlers of petty items in towns and cities are kids of school age.

Some are hired as house helps with their guardians or parents earning money off their labour. Yet some other kids have been ‘exported’ to other lands to work for families or on farms for a pittance. This is dangerous to the survival of nations and the future of humanity.

The use of child soldiers is another dimension of exploitation. In all the wars in Africa, particularly in Libya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Syria too many children were and have been violated.

All such cases should be investigated and punished. Furthermore, human trafficking which has gained further spread and notoriety in the latter part of the 20th Century and the first years of the 21st Century is a serious challenge. Reports of Nigerians traveling through the unsafe routes in the Sahara to Europe have been rather alarming.

Too many young people are disenchanted with the raw deal being given them by the Nigerian state. As a result, they seek to leave the country for any other destination. They then end up taking disastrous decisions.

The relevant local and international laws against child labour should be enforced in Nigeria. No child of school age should be allowed to stay out of school in any disguise. If at Age 2, a child does not have the First School Leaving Certificate the parents/guardians should be questioned. All employers of labour who exploit children should be brought to book. Some states have appropriately set up Education Marshals whose duty it is to ensure that kids of school age are in school. This should be encouraged nationwide.

Furthermore, officials of the relevant agencies should pay unannounced visits to factories, shops and farms across the nation in order to fish out culprits. The laws on abducting children whether for ransom or for parental custody should be strengthened and enforced. The state owes an obligation to all the children within its territorial boundaries because at the age of childhood they are vulnerable.

Some biological parents have been known to exploit their kids too by giving them out on hire. This should stop. Some of the motherless babies homes and orphanages in the country are into the scam of child trafficking. All government bodies charged with the responsibility of supervising them should ensure that these institutions do not abuse their mandate.

A nation that cannot protect and develop its children population is preparing to groom adults who would be of little use to society and thereby, is destroying its future. As a prelude to any action, the Federal Government should stimulate the economy and make life worth living for all Nigerians. The government should speak words and take actions that give hope.

A man who has no hope that things could turn around for the better often ends up doing terrible deeds to himself and to humanity. It is perhaps for this reason that the nation has witnessed an increase in the number of citizens committing suicide.

Social justice is crucial in this endeavour. Too many contradictions have become part of the national psyche. Whereas the Federal Government preaches the doctrine of moral uprightness, its actions do not lend credence to that narrative.

Finally, all Nigerians must be on guard. Parents should live up to their responsibilities and the family values for which all Nigerians are renowned must return.

Any parent or guardian who encourages kids to go into labour of any kind or use them for same should be subjected to the opprobrium of a nation that sees such as an assault on its future.

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