By Chika Otuchikere
Fifty-one per cent of children in Nigeria aged between five to 17 years are engaged in child labour. This is the finding of a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The survey was conducted in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
According to the report, the North Central region has the highest burden of child labour at 56.8 per cent followed by North-West which accounts for 55.1 per cent. South- South has 48.7 per cent; South-East 46.6 per cent, and South-West 38 per cent, respectively.
A UNICEF’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Maureen Zubie-Okolo, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) lamented that the figure was alarming and worrisome in spite of all legislation.
Zubie-Okolo also frowned at the number of children working in hazardous conditions in the country and identified North Central as accounting for the highest number with 49.6 per cent.
The UNICEF official also identified the North West zone as accounting 41.9 per cent of children working in hard conditions, followed by South-South 37.9 per cent; South East zone 36.1 per cent; North East zone 34.1 per cent and South West region 25.4 per cent in that order.
Zubie-Okolo identified the major causes of child labour as poverty, rapid urbanisation, breakdown in extended family affiliations, rate of high school drop-out and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children.
She identified one of the most common practices of child labour as the use of children as child domestics.
Zubie-Okolo, who described the 2017 MIC survey as fifth in the series, noted that it helped to expose the country’s progress and lapses in key areas of development, among others.
According to her, the survey provides opportunity for strengthening national statistical capacity, by providing technical guidance on data gathering.
“The high level of diverse and tedious jobs that children execute in dangerous circumstances is particularly worrying.
“These jobs include being street vendors, beggars, car washers or watchers and shoe shiners.
“Others work as apprentice mechanics, hairdressers and bus conductors, while a large number work as domestic servants and farm hands.
“Traditionally, children have worked with their families, but today children are forced to work for their own and their family’s survival,” she said.