Child labour in Delta State has assumed a dangerous dimension and there is a public outcry and wild condemnation against the state governor Ifeanyi Okowa for pursuing policies that encourage child labour and the inability of his government to put an end to the ugly trend.
The increasing number of children between the ages of 8 to 14, hawking sachet water, biscuits, solid palp (Agidi), Cassava (Akpu or Fufu), fish, groundnut, pepper, okro, cry-fish and among others at ever busy Ibusa junction and the popular Ogbeogonogo market in Asaba, forced public spirited individuals to heap the blame on the state government.
A Human Right Lawyer, Lawrence Okpokri, has criticised Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for scrapping the task-force on education, called Edu-Mashal set up by former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, without enforcing the law on Child’s Right Bill saying that the state has lost bearing on the menace, and has blamed the Delta State government for pursuing policies that encourage child labour.
Mr Okpokri said the trend has taken a new twist in Agbor, Sapele, Ughelli, Uvwie, Kwale and other major towns in the state, since the task-force was disbanded. According to him, “a visit to Ogbeogonogo market will confirm my stand on this threat. The picture will be clearer to you that the state government has abandoned its responsibility, just as parents and guardians have refused to educate their children.”
A teacher in Asaba, who pleaded anonymity for fear of the unknown, wondered why the Oshimili South Local Government Area was issuing N50.00 daily receipts to children who are supposed to be in school but hawking cold sachet water and other things.
But the Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Child Rights Advocacy, Barrister Bridget Anyafulu, who spoke on the matter, denied the claim that Governor Okowa’s led administration was encouraging child labour.
Barrister Anyafulu said several mobile courts have been inaugurated to handle cases of child labour, saying “ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Any child caught will be arrested to appear before a mobile court and their parents consequently prosecuted. The Governor is enforcing the law on Child Rights, and has done everything within the ambit of law to halt the ugly trend.”
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