Mother and daughter holding hand together with love in vintage color tone

Mother and daughter holding hand together with love in vintage color tone

June 12 has become a trademark for two very important events in Nigeria. This day was remarkable for the freest and fairest presidential democratic election in the history of Nigeria with the promise of a better life for all Nigerians, which sadly, was truncated in 1993 and later recognized and declared a “Democracy Day” in 2018 by the Federal Government.

Coincidentally, this same day has been marked as the World Day Against Child Labour: a day for global actions against all forms of child exploitation by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and recognized by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

As we commemorate this day, our heart goes to millions of children worldwide and in Nigeria who are enslaved and subjected to hard labour under any guise whatsoever.

Furthermore, Human Development Initiatives (HDI) Foundation is demanding from the current government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a stronger democracy with zero tolerance for all forms of child abuse; and awaiting renewed hope in a democracy that will strengthen the enforcement of local and international legal instruments against all forms of child labour and address its root causes in Nigeria at all levels.

Child labour is one of the globally condemned worst forms of rights abuse of children. It is an act of engaging children in paid and/or unpaid forms of work that are harmful to them and that may compromise their dignity physically, mentally and socially, especially their educational development.

Between the years 2000 and 2016, Nigeria made moderate advancements in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. The government validated the National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour (2021–2025).

The Ministry of Labour and Employment also created a new program to provide vulnerable households with seed capital to fund new businesses in areas with high rates of child labour.

The Child’s Right Act has been adopted by 29 out of Nigeria’s 36 states (including the capital federal territory), leaving the remaining seven states in northern Nigeria with legal statutes that do not meet international standards for the prohibition of children in illicit activities. (The Bureau of International Labour Affairs, 2021).

Sadly, recent reports from ILO and UNICEF have recorded about 168 million children worldwide in child labour with an increase of about 8.4 million children in the last four years.

In Nigeria, more than 1 in every 5 children are involved in child labour. Despite the moderate progress in terms of legal and social interventions by the Nigerian government, the country is experiencing a resurgence in the worst form of child labour in the form of street and highway begging; domestic work; street vending; manufacturing; mining and quarrying gravel, granite, and artisanal gold; and agriculture.

This is largely due to weak laws and policy enforcement, increasing poverty levels and other vulnerability indices. This observation is supported by Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, Trends and the Road Forward report, which alerted and warned the Nigerian government that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, reversing the previous downward trend that saw child labour fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.

Therefore, as we mark this year’s June 12, the Human Development Initiatives (HDI) Foundation is calling on the government at all levels to think about these children and urgently demonstrate zero-tolerance for all forms of child labour; strengthen institutional capacities to enforce relevant laws and policies to combat the growing menace of child labour and root causes in all communities, especially poverty; increase investment in the education sector and remove all barriers to free, quality, equitable and inclusive education for all children in Nigeria.

We also call on all persons, parents, guardians and industries to take adequate measures to resist the temptation to exploit children by engaging them in child labour and challenge any acts that may constitute child rights violations. We believe that in their hands lies the greatness of Nigeria, now and in the future.




Olufunso Owasanoye

Executive Director

Human Development Initiatives (HDI) Foundation


Issued Date: 12th of June 2023.

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