Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, has frowned at the prevalence of child labour in the state, warning parents to desist from the act or face the wrath of the law.
The Governor gave the warning yesterday when he hosted Amarachi Uchendu, a Senior Secondary School 2 student of New Era College, and her parents at the Government House.
The Student, Amarachi, had spilled the beans on the poor attitude of some teachers to work, prompting the state government to audit public school teachers. The audit had revealed a can of worms on the attitude to work and qualifications of many public school teachers in the state.
The Governor who expressed sadness at seeing Amarachi hawking plantain chips during one of his inspections of ongoing projects in the state told her parents during the visit that, “first, it is a violation of the law and child labour is prohibited worldwide. I am shocked that you put her on the road selling fried plantain and all sorts of things on the road. All these are violation of child labour and child right law. For a young girl like her all she needs is support for her to go to school.
“If she has health challenges, the more reason, she should not be exposed to all sorts of health hazards. Parents in the state should give their children the enabling environment to study. I know you are going to tell me you are poor, but you become poorer if you fail to give your children the best education they deserve.
“All these hawking you expose her to even with her health challenges, when she is supposed to be at home doing revision of her school work worsens her health condition. Poverty is not an excuse to impoverish your own daughter and that is very dehumanizing”, he said.
He remarked “the condition I saw her was bad and so I decided that I should invite you on why you should be doing so. I wonder why you should allow your daughter to be subjected to the action of hawking to fend for the family”.
While calling on parents in the state to be wary of using their children in violation of the child rights law warned that any parent caught would be made to face the full weight of the law.
Explaining the circumstance that led to Amarachi hawking on the street, the mother said “the father is jobless and I do the work to support the family. But when our daughter is on holidays she helps in hawking to assist the family.”
On his part the father of the girl, Mr Uchendu said he had health challenges and was not able to do hard work, adding that he was doing his best to provide for his family.
Amarachi Uchendu had, last year, exposed the poor work ethics of some teachers in the state and the Governor had also visited her parents in their home, last year, when he was told the girl was ill and directed that she be taken to the state Central Hospital for treatment.