The Guardian Lagos Abuja Collins Olayinka
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has faulted some aspects of the 2015 child labour report, which indicted Nigeria for engaging in child soldiering.

Reacting to the findings of the report in Abuja while receiving the report from representative of the Department of Labour, Marlin Hardinger, Ngige denied Nigeria employed children as soldiers in her fight against insurgencies.

The Minister attributed the incident to the desperate activities of the Boko Haram insurgents who are terrorists and whose destructive activities cannot in any way be linked to the government of Nigeria.

Reacting further to the findings of the report in other sectors such as agriculture, gold mining, construction as well as begging and scavenging where the reports gave a thumb-down to Nigeria, the Minister re-stated that the involvement of children in these low occupation apart from arising partly from cultural practices, is majorly the consequence of poverty and poor education which African countries are grappling with.

He further explained that the issue of artisanal gold mining by children was a cultural practice based on village groupings, which involved youths and women.

He, therefore, reiterated the resolution of the African nations at the recent Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in Washington D.C for the United States’ direct funding of education and infrastructural development, especially skill acquisition in African rural communities as a sure way to tackle child labour and trafficking.

However, the report, coordinated by the United States Department of Labour (USDOL) commended Nigeria for making significant progress in stemming the scourge of child labour and human trafficking.

In his explanation, Hardinger said the reports reviewed child labour developments in 142 countries and found ‘moderate advancement’ in Nigeria’s efforts to tackle child labour.

« Significant update on the report covering 142 countries listed Nigeria as combating child labour and most of the efforts have to do with the good work Nigeria has made on legislations that work against child labour. This report has been applauded by policy makers all over the world, » Hardinger added.

In the meantime, following the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Employment, the two weeks industrial action embarked upon by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), and the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) of the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) has been suspended.

Consequently, the two unions and the Chairman of the PCC with his commissioners, agreed to suspend the on-going industrial action and return to work immediately.

The Minister assured that the matter was receiving due attention from the Federal Government and that payment of outstanding salaries to all the workers would be given top priority upon the release funds in shortest possible time.

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