About five million out-of-school children across the nation are forced into child labour, getting into adulthood earlier than their time due to early exposure to the hard world of breadwinners. Yet, poverty is widespread. A UNICEF study accessed November 2008 shows that nine out of 10 Nigerians live on less than $2 a day (that’s about N300).
At about 5: 15 pm, in the busy Zuba Junction, along Abuja-Kaduna Road, Asabe (not real name), a seven year-old girl runs endlessly after buses amidst careless traffic not because she wants to board, but to sell sachet water. Sometimes, she risks being knocked down by vehicles .Sixth in a family of nine, Asabe is among over a staggering 15 million children under the age of 14 who are forced into labour across the country.
She is part of the 40 per cent of Nigerian children who miss out in school and have to work in order to survive.
‘‘I have no one to help me; I was in school but had to stop because my parents have no money. From the little money I make, my mother would buy food stuff for the family.’’ she says.
Asabe carries too much responsibility for her age and she is exposed to long hours of work in dangerous and unhealthy environments.
‘‘I leave home very early in the morning to fetch water in the well and help my mother to wash plates. After that, I go to the shop to buy ice blocks which I use on the water I sell’’, she say notes that her two older brothers and her younger brother have to work for the family to afford to eat.
‘‘My elder brothers push wheelbarrows while my younger brother and I sell pure water but my other brothers and sisters are in school. Whenever they close from school, they join us to sell pure water and also kola nuts. My father said my brother and I will be going to school next year. If we don’t go out to work, we will have nothing to eat at home. My mother has a baby so she cannot go out to sell anything. She sells firewood at home.’’
Asabe explains that like a government...
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