Last week, the International Labour Organization’s ACCEL Africa trained Agriculture Extension Officers and other stakeholders on combatting child labour at the community level. The ongoing training targets – traditional leaders, thought leaders and academics, with the reorientation expected to accelerate the elimination of child labour in Nigeria by 2025.

The International Labour Organization’s ACCEL Africa project is training 80 traditional leaders, opinion moulders and academics in Ondo and Niger states from April 26 to April 29 2021, to help monitor the gold and cocoa value chains and accelerate the elimination of all forms of child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in Nigeria by 2025.

The training is facilitated through the joint efforts of the ILO ACCEL Africa project, the Federal Ministry Labour and Employment, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture, the Niger State Ministry of Mining, and the Child Rights Agency with funding from the Government of the Netherlands.

Actively participating in the interaction which is running simultaneously in both states with Covid-19 preventive protocols in place, are representatives of Galadima, Nakupe, Kakulo, Kpma Kpma, and Kuchiko communities of Niger State, and Bamikemo, Wasimi/Oduwo, Fagbo 1&2, Ipoba 2, Ago Akure/Aponmu, and Oke Agunla communities of Ondo state, where child labour has been identified as a major challenge to social development.

Speaking at the commencement of the four-day interaction on Monday, April 26 2021, the Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, represented by the National Project Coordinator for ACCEL Africa, Dr Kolawole Agatha at Royal Birds Hotel in Akure and Lydia Eke, ACCEL Africa National Project Officer at the Nasfah Hotel in Minna, reaffirmed ILO’s commitment to achieving SDG Target 8.7.

The Director explained that participants would be equipped with the requisite knowledge and be fully involved in developing the operational framework for the monitoring committee to be inaugurated on the final day of the training, 29 April 2021.

Speaking further, the Director expressed optimism that the training would accelerate action at the community level towards the promotion of decent work and total elimination of child labour especially in the Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (A.S.G.M) and Cocoa supply chains in Nigeria by 2025.

In Minna, the Controller, Niger State Ministry of Labour, Inuwa Yakubu Blood, observed that interactions and consultations with community representatives present at the training have held for the past two years, while commending the selection of monitors as intermediaries who will ensure compliance in mining communities.

The Commissioner for Mineral Resources in Niger State, Daniel Sunday Kolo represented by Alhassan Abdul, Director of Administration, Niger State Ministry of Mineral Resources, underscored the importance of paying attention to gender issues and recommended proper mapping to provide clear recommendations by participants.

Also, at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe represented by Amina Isah Kangiwa, the Labour Desk Officer, FMARD, noted that the Ministry has inaugurated the National Gender Steering Committee for the Implementation of Gender Policy in the Agricultural sector.

In the same vein, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has pledged and continuous support to the Cocoa and Horticulture sub-sectors in Nigeria.

The Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture, Sunday Akintomide, ably represented by Adeniyan Babashola, Programme Manager Agricultural Development Programme (A.D.P), acknowledged the existence of child labour in Ondo State, explaining that the state has always frowned at child labour and any misuse of children either in farming and/or other economic ventures.

Babashola further applauded the ILO partnership with the Dutch Government and charged parents to take the education of their children as a priority.

The Ondo State Controller of Labour, O.M Folayan, identified the traditional rulers, community leaders and child monitors as evangelists for the propagation of the message on eliminating all forms of child labour, noting the need for cultural reassessment: “We must realize that whatever deprives our children of quality education, health and advancement, whatever is mortgaging their future, must be reduced to level zero”, he stated.

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