The federal government has said almost $100 million was spent in feeding 10 million Nigerian children under the National School Feeding Programme, as part of efforts to eliminate the scourge of child labour in the country.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stated this in his office, yesterday while receiving the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard and officials of the Department of State who paid him a courtesy visit.
Ngige explained that the Nigerian government introduced the school feeding programme under its social security programme, to lure children engaged in child labour, back to school.
In a statement signed by the Head of Press and Public Relations of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, the minister said that the federal government also introduced social protection programmes to fight poverty, which is the major contributory factor to the prevalence of child labour in Nigeria.
Ngige said, “We have introduced the national school feeding programme under our social security, to lure children back to school. As of today, we are feeding 10 million children across the country. We have spent nearly $10 million on this.
“We have also taken more schools into the areas prone to child labour and made education free in the whole country through the Universal Basic Education Act and the Child Rights Act.
“For the people with disability, we introduced Disability Peoples Commission to give them full and comprehensive aid so that they will not feel that they have any disability. If you don’t support someone with a disability, it is outright poverty,” he said.
The minister expressed the gratitude of his ministry to the US government for the recent technical assistance of the United States Department of Labour to West Africa, in the area of fighting violence and harassment at work under Convention 190 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“Nigeria and Liberia are listed there and the fund is $5 million, estimated to be spent on the project. We think that it is a step in the right direction.
“Just last week we got information of another $4 million for anti-child labour activities in Nigeria. Ondo State is chosen as the pilot state for the fight against child labour in the area of cocoa farming. We think this is a good step in the right direction.
Earlier Leornard said the United States Government was worried to see that Nigerian children were subjected to the worst forms of child labour in quarries and granites and mining sites.
She assured that her country would continue to work with the Nigerian Government in addressing the scourge and appealed to the remaining seven states yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act to do so without further delay.
She said the US government was pleased to see a new programme in Nigeria that provides seed capital to vulnerable people to pursue programmes in areas with high prevalence of child labour.