The International Labour Organization (ILO) has called on gold users and consumers of cocoa products in Nigeria to be mindful of their patronage of children’s use for work on gold mines and cocoa farms and the consequences on social stability collective development.
Vanessa Phala, the ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, shared this concern during the inaugural National Children’s Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour (NCCECL) themed “Act Now: End Child Labour”.
The inaugural National Children’s Conference commemorates the 2021 World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) organised with support from the Netherlands Government-funded ILO ACCEL Africa Project and Tripartite partners.
Director Phala warned that if Nigeria does not quicken its pace to eliminate child labour, the country may not succeed in meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 8.7, which seeks to eliminate all forms of child labour by 2025.
Director Phala said, “Let us ask ourselves – are we empowering the unfair use of children in cocoa farms, on gold mines, at home, in factories, in marketplaces and society generally? Are we a part of the cure or the disease?.’’
A joint ILO – United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) research released on 10 June puts the number of children trapped in child labour in 2020 at 160 million, with 92 million in Africa – a surge from 152 million in 2016, signalling a potential rise over a short period, owing to the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ILO’s ACCEL Africa Project focuses on accelerating action against child labour in cocoa, and Artisanal Gold Mining (ASGM) supply chains in Ondo and Niger states, specifically where child labour is prevalent through production and supply chains.
This debut NCCECL was coordinated by members of the Nigerian Children’s Parliament, children from public and private schools across Nigeria, ex-child labour victims, and children currently trapped in labour, with support from the ILO and its tripartite partners – the Nigeria Employer’s Consultative Association, The Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and other agencies of government.