As part of efforts to eliminate the menace of child labour in the country, the Federal Government has revealed that it spent about $100 million in feeding 10 million pupils under the National School Feeding Programme.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who made the disclosure when the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leornard and officials of the Department of State paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja, said the Nigerian government had introduced the school feeding programme under its social security programme to lure children engaged in child labour back to school.
Ngige, in a statement issued by the Head of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Olajide Oshundun, noted that as of today the federal government has spent nearly $100 million to feed 10 million children across the country.
According to him, the government has also taken more schools to areas prone to child labour and made education free in the whole country through the Universal Basic Education and the Child Rights Acts.
For people with disabilities, he pointed out that the government introduced Disability Peoples Commission, to give them full and comprehensive aid, adding that the effort was to encourage inclusiveness of disabled people because they need the support most.
He said the federal government also introduced social protection programmes to fight poverty, which is the major contributory factor to the prevalence of child labour in Nigeria.
According to him, “we have introduced the national school feeding programme under our social security, to lure children back to school.”
On her part, Leonard said the US Government was worried to see that Nigerian children were subjected to the worst forms of child labour in quarries, granite and other mining sites.
She however assured that her country would continue to work with the Nigerian Government in addressing the scourge and appealed to the remaining seven states yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act to do so without further delay.
The Envoy said, “the US government was pleased to see a new programme in Nigeria that provides seed capital to vulnerable people to pursue programmes in areas with a high prevalence of child labour.”
The minister, while commending the US Government for the recent technical assistance of the Department of Labour to West Africa, said it was in the area of fighting violence and harassment at work under Convention 190 of the International Labour Organisation.
“Nigeria and Liberia are listed there and the fund is $5 million, estimated to be spent on the project. We think that it is a step in the right direction.
“Just last week, we got information of another $4 million for anti-child labour activities in Nigeria, and Ondo State was chosen as the pilot state for the fight against child labour in the area of cocoa farming. We think this is a good step in the right direction,” the labour minister said.
The minister also said that vulnerable families send their underaged children to work in cocoa farms, mining sites, street hawking and petty trading because the family’s income is not enough, owing to underemployment or unemployment.
Ngige told the US envoy that from the time they visited for the African Growth and Opportunities(AGOA) conference under the Department of Labour and Trade in Washington in 2017, “we had made it clear that the US Government has to take practical steps for us to follow.”
This article was originally published on Naija News