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Minister Ngige urges FG to expand social protection system against COVID-19

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, says countries over the world have to expand their social protection system to adequately respond to the Covid-19 crisis, which he said could reduce numbers of children in child labour.

While speaking at the National Children Conference in commemoration of the 2022 World Day Against Children, held in Banquet Hall, State House recently in Abuja, Ngige noted thus: he has “realized that, social protection is a power-tool in preventing child labour.”

He also observed that, “The outbreak of Covid-19 and its attendant chain reaction caused devastating effects on the long-term development and safety of children worldwide.

“The pandemic has plunged many families into poverty and vulnerable conditions, which made them to employ various means of survival, including children into the streets to earn income and, thereby, exposing them to higher vulnerability than adults,” he said.

The minister explained further that, Nigeria’s child labour has become a scourge where several children find themselves on the streets and are forced to make a living with others employed in the industrial complexes and hazardous environment.

He described this year’s Children Conference with a theme, ‘Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour’ as “an essential call for more investment in social protection system, in order to create a strong protection base that would help to keep children away from the scourge,” adding that, Nigeria had made considerable efforts in dealing with the menace.

Speaking also at the event, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Daju Kachollom S. Mni, had observed that globally, it is accepted that social protection programmes reduce family poverty and vulnerability and, thereby, diminish key drivers of child labour.

He believes that, any society that neglects the child has not only traded off its future but, more importantly, its values and glory, and called on children to flee from actions that promote violence.

She also charged teachers to not only impact knowledge to children but to also help them with character building.

The First Lady (wife of the President), Mrs Aisha Buhari, advocated for a “systemic approach and effective policies to strengthen social protection system, education and decent work opportunities for parents and caregivers to end child labour in the society.”

She was represented by the wife of the Kwara State Governor, who noted that, “The National Children Conference was aimed to provide avenue and a call for increased investment in social protection system and schemes to establish social protection floors and protect children from child labour.”

Goodwill messages were delivered by representatives of ministers and other dignitaries of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Director in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra-Leone and Liberia, Venesaa Phala, who assured working together with social partners and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to eradicate child labour in Nigeria.

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