No fewer than 50 percent of Nigerian children are said to be used for child labour, according to development stakeholders who described it as unacceptable.
Disclosing this at a public lecture organized for women leaders from the various communities in Awka, they identified child labour as the exploitation of children through any form of work that would deprive them of their childhood freedom and interfere with their ability to attend regular school.
Among the stakeholders at the lecture were the former governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy Etiaba, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Ify Obinabo and her counterpart in the Ministry of Information, Mr. Paul Nwosu.
The lecture noted that although exploitations against children were prohibited by legislation worldwide, many of them who should be in school were still subjected to conditions alien to their age or aptitude.
They identified some of the causes of child labour to include poverty, polygamy, lack of family planning, broken homes, tradition and wrong mentality, regretting that despite all government interventions and laws, children were still subjected to all manner of abuse and forced labour.
Wondering why the conditions which make it possible for forced labour to continue to thrive in parts of Nigeria, they said the grave questions must be speedily and correctly answered if Nigeria is to pay the enormous debt it owes her children, especially those betrayed by the spectacular failures of a country that once promised so much.
“Why should Nigeria`s youngest and those who for reason of age bear the torch to a brighter future be subjected to backbreaking work, when they should be in school and getting equipped with all the tools they need to shape a peaceful and prosperous future?,” they asked.
Specifically, Etiaba urged the state governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, to prioritize the welfare of children in his government.