By Adeniyi Olakunle
Stakeholders on Sustainable Development from the academia, the Judiciary, the Legislature and the mass media have identified bad governance as the root cause of child labour in the country.
The stakeholders made this observation last Thursday (April 26, 2017) at a Roundtable organised by the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE), University of Ilorin Sub-seat.
Prominent among the discussants at the Roundtable, entitled “Child Labour: The Menace of Street Hawking”, were: RCE Focal Person, Prof Albert Olayemi, who also represented the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Prof AbdulGaniyu Ambali; the Director, Legal Services, Kwara State House of Assembly, Mr M. Idris, who represented the Speaker, Rt. Hon, (Dr.) Ali Ahmad; the Director of Civil Litigation in the State, Mr H. A. Gegele, who represented the Kwara State Attorney General; and the Vice-Chancellor of Al Hikmah University, Ilorin, Prof Taofeek Ibrahim.
The tone for the discussion was set by the Vice-Chancellor, Al Hikmah University, Prof Ibrahim, who said, “Resulting effects of cumulative years of neglect and bad governance manifested as child labour, street hawking and several other forms of child abuse”. This position was re-echoed by several other participants.
According to Prof. Ibrahim, “The roles that fathers play as the head of households, working to guarantee better future for their children, is the role of government in the society”. He, however, lamented that “our leaders have not been up and doing and the effect is what we are all seeing manifesting as militancy, terrorism, killings, armed robbery etc”, asking, “What do you expect from multitude of children whose parents are jobless for years?”
He said, “My father struggled to build a house that I cannot live in. My children say my house is outdated for them. Yet, old paradigm has not changed. We still embezzle to build mansions that the next generation won’t need. Money meant to expand the economy, create jobs, and expand our commonwealth is cornered for other uses and we hope to develop”, the Vice-Chancellor further lamented.
Discussants recalled that the National Policy on Education promised free, qualitative and compulsory education for each Nigerian child from age 0-16 years and noted that some states like Kaduna even went further to provide free meals to encourage indigent students to come to school.
They asked, “Why is the policy not being implemented faithfully and requested traditional institutions educationists, students, lecturers, market women leaders, all of whom are represented to demand full implementation of the education policy from their governments.
The Focal Person told the gathering, “We are encouraged by your presence. Our aim is not to have a large audience and end up clapping and clapping. We are to talk and whatever we say shall be in a communiqué to appropriate quarters. If it is noise we have been making, we want to make that noise even louder so that people who have not been listening will begin to listen”.
A documentary on the menace of street hawking, which was shown to stimulate discussion, revealed the dangers of street hawking to include: limitation of children ability to perform educationally, exposure to sexual abuse, illicit drugs, crimes and criminals, accident and injuries and many more. The video counsels stakeholders to consider vocational training in addition to schooling.
Also present at the occasion were the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwara State Chapter, Rev Timothy Opoola; Balogun Agba, Alhaji Mohammed Adebayo Balogun; Mogaji Ngeri, Alhaji Mohammed Jimoh Adebayo; Mogaji, Ilorin, Alhaji Aremu Zubair; Balogun Ajikobi, Alhaji Jimoh Ajikobi; and the Baba Isale of Ilorin, Alhaji Usman S. K. Bello and many more.
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