ILO Urges FG to Invest More in Social Protection
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has appealed to the Nigeria government to increase investment in social protection through improved fiscal space, legal framework to make the right to social protection a reality for all Nigerians including children, establishment of universal child and family benefit and extension of social protection to the informal and rural economy.
ILO Country Director in charge of Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Sieria Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, made this call at the media engagement held at the United Nations House Abuja in commemoration of the 2022 World Day Against Child Labour, warning that governments across the world were facing a serious situation.
She said about 1.5 billion children worldwide, aged 0-14, received no family or child cash benefits while more than 160 million children (that’s 1 in 10 children aged 5-17) are still engaged in child labour.
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Ms Phala said: “Although in Nigeria, social protection has grown to take a prominent role in various national and state-level policy documents, development plans and budgetary allocations. Coverage remains low.
“The latest ILO Social Security Inquiry performed in collaboration with the government of Nigeria in 2019 showed that only 12 per cent of children benefit from social protection through the Home Grown School Feeding programme, with no income support in the form of child or family benefit.
“Working with our tripartite partners and a wider range of stakeholders on the Dutch Government funded ACCEL Africa Project has shown us first hand, the plight of vulnerable Nigerian children pressured by economic realities, to work and support their families especially after huge job losses resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In our cocoa producing and Artisanal Gold Mining communities, we have observed the exposure of children to drug abuse, sexual exploitation and other social vices that could put children in conflict with the law and restrict their growth.
She added that “We must realize that if we do not set and sustain the agenda on the dangers of child labour, stakeholders may delay in taking urgent and active steps required to stop it, thereby prolonging concerns on insecurity over extended periods.
“The Media is the magic bullet we need for renewed awakening today.
“You must take the lead in the global coordinated campaign to eliminate all forms of child labour by consistently informing and educating the public on prevalence of child labour and the various interventions of Government and other non-state stakeholders. Information on citizens’ rights especially as related to the international labour standards and fundamental rights at work.
“It is also important that you consistently monitor our production and supply chains, investigate sharp practices and report ethically, considering the best interest of the child as your contribution to social protection and the campaign against child labour.”
To the employers of labour, she said: “For employers of labour, we recommend that employers continue to honor the right of workers to social protection by constantly remitting the employer’s contribution for the workers social protection including but not limited to health protection, old age benefits, employment injury scheme.
“We also request an increase in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to focus on reducing the vulnerability of children, increased funding for existing interventions, ensuring continuity in executing policies related to child labour, supporting school to work transition, and encouraging child participation especially of children within the legal working age.
“In addition, we must strengthen the capacity of children within the legal working age, rehabilitate existing school structures and provide learning tools or alternatives especially for children who require skills trainings in the informal sector.”