The figures are troubling and child labour is steadily become a unifying social economic problem amongst developed and developing countries. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), reports that based on a nation-wide survey of child trafficking, approximately 19 percent (%) of school children and 40 percent (%) of street children have been forced into child labour.

According to the Save Our Soul (SOS)-a Nigerian NGO, there are over 15 million Nigerian working children -7.9 million boys and 7.3 million girls are currently being dragged into working long hours and in inhumane conditions

A University Professor, Sarah Oloko says that the tradition of forcing children to work goes back many years and that most adults in the country today have been victims at one time or the other.

She says this is having a negative effect on the education of many young people living in Nigeria and that there is a thin line between children helping their parents out and being forced to work in dangerous conditions.

“When children, especially young ones are exposed to long hours of work in harsh and dangerous environments, which threatens their lives and limbs as well as jeopardize their normal physical, mental, emotional and moral development, it is termed child labour” the Professor concluded

In the eastern part of Nigeria and some Southern states such as Cross River and Akwa-Ibom, child trafficking has been the focus of intense media attention

It must be emphasized that child trafficking is the end product of child labour. Most children are either abducted or leave home with traffickers who promise their captives educational opportunities and other enticing incentives. They are taken to neighbouring African countries, principally Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’ Ivoire and Gabon-all transit points before they are sold off into servitude in agriculture, domestic labour or worse still end up as commercial sex slaves

Okeke Sandra, GUEST AUTHOR

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