Research Report: Nigeria – Human Rights & Child Labor

Jarred Boyer | Policy Group Intern

[Reviewed By | Dr. Neet Shikha, Expert]

Overview/Current Situation:

Nigeria:                                                                                                                                              

The country sits on the west coast of the African continent and is the only the 14th largest country on the continent by area.[1] Yet Nigeria is massive in population, with far and away the largest amount of people in Africa. Nigeria’s current population is 186,053,386 with 42.79% falling in the 0-14 years of age group or 79,615,259 total children.[2]  The country’s economy if looked at only through national numbers tends to look impressive. Their GDP is constantly the top GDP in the Africa and in 2016 was in the top 25 GDP’s in the world.[3] Though the economy is inflated by their oil production the massive amount of people and the wealth is unequally distributed and results in the majority of the country not having the same standard of living as most the other countries in the world’s top 25 GDP. In short, Nigeria is the largest African country by population and because it sits on the largest oil reserves in the continent it exports revenues are massive. But this does not mean that individuals’ everyday lives are in any way immune to many of the same problems that plague citizens of other African countries. Things such as corruption, failing legislation, failing education system, massive poverty, and massive crime have all lead to the issue that is focused on in this report: child labor and child trafficking. Many factors and conditions have led to a perfect storm in the country where the environment and impoverish conditions allows for criminals who want to undertake in crimes involving using children to make money to thrive without much push back from the families, communities, government and even until the 21st century the international community.

Nigerian Child Labor Issue: In the country, an unbelievable 15 million children under the age of 14 are in the labor force. These children are pushed into work to provide for themselves and their families in such an impoverished country.[4] Nigeria is in the bottom 20 countries on median age and this is a major cause for there not to be enough adults to successfully provide for the children. This is one of the factors which fuels the environment where children are forced to work in order to survive. Another factor that leads to the development of this situation in Nigeria is the rampant poverty in the country. The latest statistics from The World Bank are those of 2010 and show that at that time the population of Nigerians in absolute poverty (living on less than $1.90 a day) was 85.2 million people.[5] This amount of absolute poverty has been caused by an economic crisis that has been harming the country since the 1980’s. Because of the large amount of people who are struggling to find decent job opportunities and are struggling as they try to have enough food to make it through the day, in many cases the poor in Nigeria disregard the national or international laws on labor, especially child labor as they fight for their lives. These people, families and children lack the resources to be able to give the children the life the western world expected in the making of international laws on child labor. Education for the children is neglected as they are forced by their parents to help support the family, many times threatened to be ousted of the house if not. This does not mean that child labor is not an issue that should be addressed and stopped in the country. Instead it calls for an understanding of the layers of issues which have come together to develop the situation in which these families and children are currently occupying. Only a deeper understanding of these issues will enable national and international leaders and policymakers to effectively combat and solve the issue at hand. Other factors that lead to this extreme amount of child labor is HIV/AIDS which causes their parents’ early death forcing the children to find means for survival. Corruption in the government is another major factor as corrupt officials misuse aid given to children in need and mismanage the countries resources, in turn hindering the economic ability of the country as a whole to help the children. Lastly, ignorance and lack of parental supervision leave children unaware of the consequences. Children are left to make their own decisions who without complete understanding and information often become vulnerable to persuasion of those who employ these children for their gains.

What Children in The Work Force Do: Children in Nigeria have the possibility and availability to work in many different employment sectors because of the fact that child labor is so prevalent. It is reasonable to say that in many ways child labor is a norm for the impoverished areas of the country. Many children face some type of abuse or harassment in the work place due to the nature of the jobs which they are allowed to hold in their communities. The breakdown of jobs and prevalence of each job looks like: “Public- Street Vendors (64%), Beggars (13%), Feet Washer (8%), Car Services (6%), Scavenging (5%), Shoe Shiners (4%), Business/Industry- Mechanical Apprentices (24%), Barber (18%), Transportation Conductors (17%), Tailor (14%), Catering (8%), Metal Worker (6%), Private/In-House- Domestic Servants, Agricultural- Farm and Quarry workers.”[6] In many instances these jobs can be unsafe not only because of the children lack the ability to protect themselves from abuse or harassment, but also because many of these jobs are hazardous and dangerous for any adult workers and hence definitely not idea for children. Working in quarries, in metal factories or in mechanics jobs are high risk jobs that can cause injuries from inexperience or lack of attentiveness, making them unideal places for children to be. Agricultural work can take place in the country or in other countries in the region. It is common practice for boys to be trafficked out of Nigeria to work on plantations or in quarries in other African nations. Girls work mostly in domestic roles and these positions are most likely to have sexual abuse cases as the majority or even all the work is done out of the public eye. Boys are more common on the streets in the begging and vendors roles, where they largely experience verbal or physical abuse. Even those child labors who work in legal industries that are harmful to children but the jobs themselves can be done in a reasonable manner, children are also often used in/forced into many illegal industries in the country such as slavery, drug trafficking, prostitution, pornography and forced recruitment into armed conflict.[7] These types of child labor jobs are much more harmful to the child and are done in many cases out of force instead of necessity. In many cases, these children are trafficking into neighboring countries and to different regions of the world where the price for drugs and sexual activities are higher. Children, mostly young girls from Nigeria end up working in prostitution houses in Europe or Gulf countries, taken there by criminal organizations who are constantly moving and trafficking children.

The Effect on the Children:

Education: The most problematic outcome of children in the work force is the amount of education they miss out on because of work. In today’s work place, education is a major factor in employment, salary, success and opportunity. With the lack of education, these children are already at a disadvantage when it comes to their futures and their ability to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.[8] UNICEF reports that out of the 15 million children in the work force in Nigeria around 6 million will not attend school at all because of a lack of resources or time to do so, another 1 million of the children will end up dropping out of school sometime during their youth because of their jobs or financial situation and the other 8 million that are in school and stay in school often have to skip class and miss important learning opportunities because of their jobs and the demands that are put on to them because of the job.[9]This cycle is problematic because as the corruption in the government blocks outside assistance, the job to fix the issues are left to the citizens themselves and without education and resources they are left unable to do anything of substance to start any movement for a change in their community, markets, way of lives or governmental system leaving the next generation to fall into the same issues. The cycle of poverty continues and is even strengthened as generations pass and education becomes more pertinent everywhere on the globe to be able to be successful and profitable.

Health Problems: Putting these children into the work force can also be harmful to the children’s health, both mental and physical.[10] Some health issues cause by labor “include stunting, breathing problems owing to exposure to toxic substances, accident proneness, contamination of cuts and wounds”[11]. Children also retain mental health problems which include “isolation of working children from their families and peer-groups, stigmatization of work by peers, lowering of self-esteem of children and perception of relative deprivation”[12]. All these issues lead to problems in gaining meaningful employment down the road to help these children once they become adults break the poverty cycle. Sexual and physical abuse is also a common issue when it comes to children in the work force as they are unable to fight back or protect themselves from their attackers. In cases of domestic work sexual abuse is most common, where physical abuse is possible and prevalent to children in many different work environments. All these conditions hinder a child’s ability to fully develop into a well-rounded adult that can be useful and/or successful in the community.

Child Labor Migration: In Nigeria, child migration is a major cause of the child labor and child trafficking issues within the country. Child migration is very common in the country as many move to the urban centers in search for education and work. This is because in Nigeria there is a cultural practice of “fostering” or sending children to live with relatives in the cities to be able to have a better chance to find upper ward economic mobility through nonagricultural work and better education, but as the economic crisis in the country continues to wage on these children find less education and opportunity, and instead are forced into begging or the jobs mentioned above.[13] Fostering has turned troublesome in the nation as the amount of impoverished people and wealth inequality grows, parents no longer send their children off to live with relatives. For mostly economic reasons, the parents no longer wish to take care of these children they send them off with any adult who promises to help them find successful job opportunities elsewhere.  An issue with the case of migration is that the lines between voluntary migration and force migration or trafficking has become a rather confusing line for many researchers and statisticians. One reason for this is because it is possible for consented migration to turn into forced labor during their journey or soon after the children’s arrival to someone where new. In the case of prostitution emigration to Europe, the girls in many cases know what they are going for but there has been cases in Italy or Spain where they are forced into working in much worse conditions or much longer than they anticipated. Another way the lines become blurred for migration records in and out of Nigeria is that in many cases the parents’ consent to the children going to the cities or to other countries, since they are unable or unwilling to care for the child any longer.

Child Trafficking: Trafficking by definition is “the transfer of persons by fraudulent means for exploitative purposes”[14]. The UN Anti-trafficking Protocol, it goes on to say that a case can also be considered trafficking without fraudulent means if the person or persons being transferred or moved are children. Child trafficking is an important issue because both internationally and nationally with Nigeria, the event is an abuse against the human rights of children on its own, before the child gets to a place where they are put into a child labor issue. For the illegal jobs listed above, under The Effect on The Children subheading, child trafficking has become a significant way in which to obtain and move children for these jobs. Child trafficking in terms of Nigeria is both used as an internal and external work force. According to UNICEF, 40% of children in the work force in the country are at risk to be trafficked to a different part of the country or externally to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Spain, Niger, Cameroon, Gabon, Italy and Benin Republic.[15] With the country almost completely bordered by Benin on the west, Niger to the north and Cameroon to the east and child trafficking being an issue to each of the countries, the country has a hard time at deciding how and where to combat the problem first as this issue is continuous all around the country. Human trafficking in Nigeria is major issue, ranking third in their crime statistics.[16] One of the biggest issues with being able to slow or stop this crime is the ease in which a trafficker can take children. With the amount of children working in public settings, the amount of extremely poor families and the overpopulated urban areas the perfect storm has been created for an environment ripe for traffickers. For external trafficking in many cases the exchange is usual set up through a family member, who wishes the child will be able to go somewhere profitable and send home money or is paid to let the child go wherever the trafficker is going to take her. When going to Europe, many of the young women know they are going into prostitution, but wish to pay off their debt or to get some upper ward movement within the organization that brought them there.[17] Child trafficking has become such an issue that the government has set up an agency that is specifically tasked with incidents related to trafficking and matters like trafficking. In most cases, girls are trafficking for more domestic/sexual jobs, where boys are trafficking to work labor intensive jobs in agricultural industries.

Child Labor, Migration and Child Trafficking: Part of this problem in Nigeria is that all three of the events, child labor, child migration and child trafficking are too large to put together and try to solve at once, but at the same time they are all too intertwined to try to look at and solve separately. To truly understand why and how child labor is so abundant in the country, one must be able to understand the migration patterns of children, why and how they migrate as well as how this puts them in high risk for child labor no matter if they get to where they plan to go or not. Also, for policy to be made to hinder the ability of child traffickers then the policy must also transform the atmosphere in which children are working and migrating in. Just like with many international issues, the conglomeration of these severe issues in Nigeria all root from governmental ineptness with resources and finances, Nigeria is one of the most economically rich African nations when one looks at natural and human resources yet corrupt governments and inept financial policies have put their citizens in these type of dyer situations that in turn breed this type of criminal and inhuman behavior. The issues taking place in Nigeria are very personal issues, with terrible things happening to people because of people but also are top down issues where the organizations and agencies in place to make sure things such as this do not happen have completely failed the people. Also, some of the fall happens to come down on the families and the culture which these children are born into. Poor parents who are struggling to be able make enough money to keep themselves alive have trouble to teach and look after their children, labor in some way is a way which to keep their children busy so they have more time to make money on their own. The culture of sending your children off to the cities be able to make a better life for themselves in the current world which we live in does not work in the way in which it used to in the past. The changing norms within the world cause for children to be looked after more than ever, parents are held more accountable for their children and to let children migrate on their own and putting them at risk for child labor and child trafficking falls on the total responsibility of the parents.

Laws and Regulations:

National Laws to Combat Child Labor: In 2003, Nigeria began to take its first steps for governmental legislation and commitments to be able to start creating solutions for these problems. The government in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO) began to set a minimum working age for children in certain job categories, such as at sea, industrial, and underground mining.[18] This cooperation along with implementing of other ILO programs gave a base to protecting children in the country. Also in 2003, the Nigerian government passed the Child’s Right Act which was to serve as national legal protection for children rights and to make sure that citizens of the country act in the best interest of children.[19] This Act included many loop holes and problematic wording, such as failing to describe the use and limitations of the term “light work”.[20] In many other cases, though the laws were now on the books they did little to change the conditions in the cities and in the work force for working children. Ten years later in 2013, the government adopted a plan to completely eradicate child labor by 2020 after being urged by the ILO that they would not be able move out of the Developing Country classification in 2020 unless they eliminated the child labor problem.[21] Currently, it seems that their laws in the books are not strict enough on criminals that are charged with these offenses and have not properly lowered the amount of child laborers in the country as the Nigeria and the international community would have hoped.

National Laws to Combat Child Trafficking: As the government was passing laws on child labor in 2003, they also passed the “Trafficking in Persons Prohibition and Administration Act”. Then to enforce the law, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related matters (NAPTIP) was created in the same year. Put together, the Act and the agency above have completely outlawed trafficking of persons in the country and the organizations tied to this sort of crime, as well as, put into place an investigative force strictly focused on this epidemic in the country, catching and prosecuting the criminals.[22] The agency is also tasked with finding and getting victims affected by child trafficking to some help, such as rehabilitation.[23]In 2015, the “Trafficking in Persons Prohibition and Administration Act” was repealed and replaced by “Trafficking in Persons Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration Act”. This in turn helped the country update and strengthen the legislation and enforcement tools, in the hope of giving the agency a better chance to fix a problem that was and is still growing in Nigeria.

International Laws on Child Labor:

U.N. General Council: The initial document laying out of the idea that children had separate rights and responsibilities than adults was in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. This document is the first documentation to specifically say that children enjoy special protections and entitlements and that acts by courts, governments, and parents should be made “in the best interest of the child”[24]. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child is used as the bases of all other children’s rights conventions and documents in the international community. As times changed and the international community felt that the declaration was too narrow in what it explicitly stated, the U.N. General Council then moved to expand on these protections and entitlements by creating the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was then adopted in 1989. This is the most extensive human rights document currently on the books, the reason it is so long and also a unique legal writing is that children’s rights in both war and peace time are address in the document.[25] This document is now used to expand the reach of organizations such as the U.N. and groups within the U.N., like the International Labour Organization (ILO), in writing and defining legislation and conventions that protect children from events such as, child labor and child trafficking that blatantly infringe on the rights of a child expressed in the document.

International Labour Organization: In 1973, the International Labour Organization held Convention 138 which was on minimum age for employment. Out of this convention came the regulations that the minimum age for any possible hazardous employment is 18 or occasionally 16 under the right controlled conditions, the minimum age to work in a legal capacity is 15 with exceptions for some developing countries for the age to be 14, and lastly light work not affecting children’s health or ability to get an education can be done by 13 to 15 year olds in developed countries and by 12 to 14 year olds in developing countries.[26] As these rules and regulations set during 1973 were still continuously broken despite the convention and only 84 countries had ratified by 1999. The ILO then set out to first define and work to stop the worst forms of child labor before taking on the large goal of ending all child labor. With this decision, the ILO held another convention, Convention 182 in 1999. During this convention, the ILO explicitly stated that a child was anyone under 18 years of age and explained that the worst forms of child labor were slavery, trafficking, child soldiers, prostitution, pornography, using children for production and trafficking of drugs and lastly any work that is harmful to the child’s mental or physical health.[27] The convention also mentioned the importance of education in children’s development and gained traction in the international community much quicker than Convention 138. By 2002, Convention 182 had been ratified by more countries than Convention 138 with 132 to 122 countries ratified respectively. Currently the ratifying countries count is 179 to 166 respectively.

Compliance with International Laws: Though Nigeria was not yet a country during the ratification of the Declaration of the Rights of Children and has never done so, the government has successfully ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in April of 1991[28] and then in 2002 Nigeria ratified both the International Labour Organization’s Convention 138 on minimum wage[29] and Convention 182 on worst forms of child labor[30]. As explained above, the government did implement multiple new laws, regulations and even the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related matters (NAPTIP) has tried and fall in line with international norms. This was very much in response to international pressure. It is evident that the Nigerian government does not hold these values to be as important as the international community does though, because even with these new laws and legislations in place the Nigerian government made no motion to allocate anywhere close to the amount of resources needed to help NAPTIP or other governmental agencies start to combat the situation. Also after there was evidence the current laws and approach was not working the Nigerian government made no notion or movement to start to reform the agencies and laws or tighten the legislation until the International Labor Organization pressured them to do so in 2010.

Why Nigeria is failing at solving the Issue: Even though the government has implemented agencies and laws to crack down on human rights abuses against child, especially in the forms of labor and trafficking, the lack of money, resources and man power allows the organizations and people committing these abuses to continue to get away with it. Starting the analysis with the main agency that was put into place to combat the child trafficking, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related matters (NAPTIP), it is seen that faces many obstacles when trying to fight a very large issue within the country. The issue of inadequate penalties has been tried to be fix with the repeal of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition and Administration Act, as the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration Act was enacted in 2015, but it is too early to see if this was an adequate solution. A chief investigator with NAPTIP was quoting saying that the new law still “requires further amendment. [and that the law] focuses too much on pure human trafficking offence, which is very difficult to prove”[31]. The changed law only focused on one issue plaguing the agency, other issues such as attitudes of victims, lack of funding and slow judiciary systems still hinder the ability of NAPTIP as child trafficking and child labor issues grow throughout the country[32]. At the same conference in 2017, NAPTIP’s Chief Legal Officer was quoted stating that their current issues included “the clandestine nature of the crime, interagency rivalry, porous borders, relationship ties, tender age of victims, insufficient funds, lack of training for investigators and prosecutors, unwillingness of victims to testify in court, oath taking in shrines and delay in the criminal justice system”[33]. The Nigerian government uses the actions against child labor as more of a way to please the rest of the world, who finds child labor to be a major issue, than as a way to actually solve the issue themselves. The government only half-heartedly funds the agency leaving it mainly inept to do the duty it was put in place for, as child labor and child trafficking crimes run rampant all over the country and flow children out of the country into every single bordering country. As long as the government refuses to give the time, money and resources that need to be allocated to try to solve this epidemic Nigeria will fail to comply with international laws and treaties to which they have signed and ratified.

Domestic Court Cases on Child Labor and Child Trafficking: In 2010, The National Assembly of The Federal Republic of Nigeria attempted to fix issues with which courts had jurisdiction and oversight on certain issued passed the Constitution Act of 2010. This Act in turn gave the National Industrial Court the sole jurisdiction over any issues “connected with or related to child labor, child abuse, human trafficking or any matter connected therewith or related thereto”[34]. The National Industrial Court was also given the ability to reference and sight international laws and standards in their decisions, as well as national law. This is an important progressive step for the country to try and charge and convict people who are infringing on children’s rights. Prior to this in 2008, the Supreme Court had ruled during Registered Trustees of National Association of Community Health Practitioners of Nigeria v. Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria that any international law or convention that had not yet been passed by the National Assembly had no force on legal decisions in the country and in turn could not be referenced as part of court decisions. The decision for the National Industrial Court to be allowed to use international laws and standards during their cases will allow them to have a much larger scope in which to try and convict individuals who use Nigeria as a base station for child labor and child trafficking activities. The largest issues with the court system in Nigeria is that very few cases involving child labor make it through the court system all the way up to the national courts. Without court cases reaching national levels, the importance of the cases are weakened as they are only enforceable and meaningful in the region which they are made. The National Industrial Court also fails to have an appellate court, which makes many scholar skeptical of their decisions. Other issues with the Nigerian court system is that it is possible for cases to go undecided for lengthy periods of time, in some cases up to 25 years pass before a ruling is handed out.[35] As of late the most important arrest and trails are focused in the area of child trafficking, as NAPTIP is working together with court system to make sure the convictions they seek for criminals they apprehend stick.

Sentencing of Nneka Ebelechukwu: This court case, which took place in a Federal High Court of Nigeria in Abuja and came to an end in October of 2014 was essential for those who are in the effort to combat child trafficking as the Courts became proactive, giving lengthier, stiffer penalties for child trafficking offenses. This court decision predates and even helps urge the General Assembly to pass the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration Act of 2015. The woman, Nneka Ebelechukwu, was captured by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters and charged with three accounts of organizing foreign travels which promotes prostitution. The woman had been in charge of the organization of external trafficking of young women for sexual favors and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The heightened penalties for child trafficking convictions was seen as a way to help deter the amount of these types of activities in the country and later was put into law with the act mentioned above that was passed in 2015. During the reading of the decision, the judge plead to parents that some of the fault of these incidents falls onto their shoulders and they must refuse to send their children off in search of a profitable employment with child traffickers.[36]This was also a landmark court case as it set a precedent of lengthier sentencings for future court cases to use during their rulings on foreign trafficking convictions. Before this in these types of court cases the rulings fell strictly under the weaker penalties laid out in the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition and Administration Act.

Sentencing of 3 persons in April 2015: After the passing of the law change in 2015 for the trafficking of persons in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters undertook getting three convictions, which the Zonal Commander for the Lagos region of the nation called landmark achievements for the organization.[37] The cases involved an elderly owner of a hotel, where underage girls services were being sold in a prostitution type set up, and his two sisters.[38] The sisters both received seven years and the elderly man received five years for his part in the crime ring.[39] The court decision was vital as it was the first court decision in the region to deal with child labor and child issues after the new law came into action and allowed for the courts and NAPTIP to show the law’s full ability to levy heavier sentences against offenders. The new law had turned changed the atmosphere around NAPTIP and had increased their ability to be an impact on the criminals and organizations who target children. NAPTIP’s Executive Secretary to Director-General was quoted in reference to the new legislation as explaining that it gave the organization the true ability to “bark and bite”[40], referring to their ability to not only make noise with arrest and trails, but to be able to truly punish the persons they apprehend through the ability to level stricter sentencing terms.

Public Interest Litigation: In brief, all around the world Public Interest Litigation is used to bring law suits to the courts for social justice reasons and is usually very useful in achieving an organizations end goals in the long run. In the case of Nigeria, the constitution is written in such a way that it is hard for PIL’s to be brought in front of the court as the courts are not supposed to rule on such matters. The court cannot rule in question of whether an act did or did not conform with the constitution, so the plaintiff must show irrefutable evidence that the act did do so. Next, to be able to put a law suit in motion, one must be able to obtain Locus Standi, an odd legal obscurity which means the courts find your case to be of sufficient interest to both parties and the court itself.[41] Because of these factors along with the fusion of the office of the Attorney-General and the office of the Minister of Justice[42], the path to being able to get a Public Interest Litigation case heard by any courts, much less a national court in Nigeria is an upward battle that has failed to lead to any real instances of cases that challenge laws against child labor or champion reform to the legal system that has allowed these issues to continue to arise.

Recommendations for Future Action: As it is typical with almost all major international issues, the issue of child labor and child trafficking is not solely a Nigerian problem. It is also not solely a problem that you can put on the parents or the government, the issue stems from many levels and is unbelievable complicated with historic causes, societal causes, and individual causes. Because of this, at each level there is individual things to fix but also overlapping issues that they must combat together. To be able to rid Nigeria of this issue that is plaguing most sectors of their nation they must be able to connect with individuals in their own country, as well as in other countries that are affected to have any chance of making a reasonable push against the child labor epidemic.

International Level: This issue spans across many countries, regions and multiple continents. The countries that are recipients of Nigerian children being trafficked out of the country, are as much as fault for the international part of the issue as Nigeria itself. Bordering countries, regional countries, gulf countries and European countries are all intertwined in this trafficking ring. The best thing to do would to bring in an joint task force of multiple of these countries because even when these children start in Nigeria and end up in Saudi Arabia or Spain they travel through many more countries while on their journey. A joint investigative task force of the countries would be the best opportunity in which to be able to understand, capture and prosecute the large criminal organizations that are running these operations. When one country bust one child housing facility or transportation, that is not enough to take down organizations of this size. Nigerian’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons has signed Memoranda of Understanding with countries such as Italy, the U.K. and the Netherlands each separately[43], but these memoranda’s alone have not done enough to truly start to make a difference on the international trafficking taking place. Another way in which the international community has tried to take action is sanctions against Nigeria if they refuse to try to fix the problem, such as the International Labor Organization has done. An important way in which international help could come is through international NGO’s, the best way to solve problems around the world is people helping people. NGO’s can help in two ways, to help inform the masses of the issues going on in the country and by helping to get funds and make plans to fix the issues on the ground, within families and communities that help to grow the environment for this issue.

National Level: Both economic issues and the seeing the lack of importance to this issue are causes to how the Nigerian government continuously fails to combat this issue. Nigeria is the largest African country by population and is top ten in both crude oil reserves[44] and top twelve in production worldwide[45], yet with all of these resources the Nigerian government continuously implements failing policies that hamper the economy and leaves so many of their citizens poor and jobless. The country’ GDP has been on a sharp incline since 2000, yet the amount of impoverished people has risen. This in large part is because of their stagnant job market and growing inequality. The citizens of Nigeria lack the ability to find decent jobs and because of this the amount of people relative poverty growing even faster than people in absolute poverty, both of these issues cause for people to look to other means for family revenues. The Nigerian government must first be able to fix their job market and inequality in the country to stop these finance induced crimes. The economy is rising and the money is in the market, but the lack of regulations and diverse job opportunities are things that the government can work to change.

Community Level: The largest issue going on at the community/city/town level is the acceptance of the culture they live in. The community leaders and officials must help to change the way the individuals in their community look at their children, their children’s education and their children’s future. Children’s growth and success is a positive for the community as a whole, if children are better educated and can perform and excel at higher level jobs in their adult life then they are able to funnel more money into the community and lift others out of poverty as well. The education of children is one of the most important facets of breaking the poverty cycle. Communities must not accept child labor as a part of life but rather make it a norm and even pressure parents into making sure their children get into the classroom and get the education skills that they direly need. Communities can do this in many ways, by out lawing child labor and enforcing these child labor laws they create, by looking out for one another’s children and by creating organizations or groups to be able to help families make sure their children are getting into the classroom. That could be through transportation needs, financial needs, community food needs, or tutoring needs. Local NGO’s or church communities that can help to lift a little of the burden these families in financial troubles. This could go a long way to changing the way these communities look at education if they could get more children succeeding in the classroom.

Family Level: In the family, the parents must fall on most of the blame. In many cases large family size, lack of funds and lack of supervision all go hand in hand to create a household that pushes their children in the work force at much a young age. In all these cases, the parents are to be blamed, lack of education and lack of availability to contraceptives is also an issue with impoverished adults in most of the country. Educating the parents is important so that they make informed decisions and then once they have children they can properly inform them of contraceptives, the harms of child labor and the need for education throughout their childhood. Parents are responsible in today’s age in failing to protect their children. They fail to help guide them to make sure they are well prepared for adulthood, not to put a financial burden on them at a young age. Adult in Nigeria need to be better informed and make wiser decisions about how many children they can afford to parent in a proper manner. At no time in a child’s life should they be forced with the decision to bring home money to support the family or to be thrown out on the streets and disowned, these are clear violations of children’s rights described by the United Nations. The responsibilities and relationships between children and parents in these impoverished households are completely distorted because of bad decisions on the part of the parents. As it is easy to look in from the outside and say that others are making bad decisions the real issue is the lack of education that leads to these continuous bad decisions by a growing amount of adults within the country. Most of the family and communal issues come back to the fact that children in every country no matter what the financial situation need to be in the class room so they are prepared to make well informed, knowledgeable, sound decisions when they are adults for themselves and their families.

Overlapping Issues: Through all four levels, there is a couple of glaring factors that need to be solved to then be able to start to fix smaller issues to completely get rid of the situation. The three factors that stick out that are lacking in multiple levels are use of resources, management of financials and lack of education. Just as all the issues in Nigeria are tied together and all the countries are tied together, all the failures are tied together as well. In the current global scenario of, high speed, mass technology world that we live in, everything is intertwined. The failure for Nigerian citizens and the Nigerian government to be able to manage their personal and national finances in a fiscally responsible manner is at least in part due to the lack of education. The failure to use resources properly comes from both lack of education to understand what you need and a lack of financial management to be able to afford the funding for different types of resources you may need to use. Then the lack of education has been a legacy that comes from the past generations failures to use the resources and available finances to combat the issue themselves.

Closing Remarks: In closing, education is the key to success of any society. Failure to provide education is cause of several other problems and any solution lies in ensuring that it is provided to one and all. For this case in Nigeria the lack of knowledge of these factors are prevalent in all levels of the issue, from international to family levels. The failure to learn and understand this situation has lead the country to where it is now, and without the capability or drive to start to use the knowledge and resources available to better understand the complex and well-rounded situation that has developed the event will continue to fester. In turn, harming the citizens of the country as well as the nation’s economy, government, law enforcement agencies, and judicial system causing for a major burden on a nation that is diligently try to develop and gain some upward mobility in the international community. Nigeria does have the human and natural resources to make these upward mobility a reality, but being able to show that you are developing in today’s day and age also means that you are striving towards western societal ideas. This is why the ILO will refuse to move them out of the developing country category in 2020 unless the government of Nigeria makes productive steps and shows successful changes in the upcoming years in dealing with the child labor and child trafficking issues that plague the country in every region.

 

© Goeman Bind HTO

Ϯ anyone can quote from this paper but due acknowledgement and reference should be given to Goeman Bind HTO, Think Tank.

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