By Gift Olivia Samuel
ABUJA: In a bid to contribute to quality reportage by journalists in the area of forced labour and fair recruitment, the International Labour Organization (ILO) developed a media toolkit which identifies concrete tips for improving and supporting production of quality reporting on forced labour and fair recruitment issues.
Adapted for Nigeria within the framework of the FAIRWAY Programme, being implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Nigeria’s country office Abuja, with the support of Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), the project is an inter-regional initiative aimed at enhancing the capacities of stakeholders to protect the rights of all migrant workers, especially women and other vulnerable groups along the labour migration cycle, with specific focus of the labour migration corridor between Africa and the Arab States.
The toolkit which has five modules—Understanding the story; Finding the story; Getting the story; Telling the story; and Following up, also has a glossary of key terminologies for media reporting in Nigeria.
Speaking at a two-day workshop convened by the ILO to review and validate the toolkit, the Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, stated that the media plays a critical role in sensitization and awareness raising of huge populations, adding that this line of work is designed to go a long way in reducing abusive practices that impede on the human and labour rights of migrant workers.
Phala, who was represented by Erameh Augustine, said more specifically, through collaboration, ILO is determined to continue strengthening networks of specialized journalists as well as building partnerships with relevant institutions who have the capacity and mandate to take forward media training and outreach.
The Director, speaking further at the workshop which brought Journalists, Civil Society Organisations and the government under one roof, stated that country adaptation and subsequent delivery of trainings on the ILO toolkit for Journalists and CSOs on reporting on forced labour and fair recruitment has been identified as a means through which stakeholders can be supported to report and engage more effectively in the area of fair recruitment and forced labour in Nigeria.
Furthermore, she pointed out that, “The objectives of the two-day meeting include; A presentation of ILO’s Media Toolkit on Forced Labour Reporting and Fair Recruitment adapted for use in Nigeria; Strengthening capacity of media and Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria to better understand, engage and report more factual and accurately in areas related to labour migration and forced labour using ILO’s media toolkit; and Validation of the media toolkit”.
While noting that the ILO appreciates the continued consultative and participatory engagement stakeholders have provided in bringing the line of work thus far in Nigeria, she added that they [ILO] will continue to provide the platforms and technical guidance in this regard.
For his part, the representative of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Sunday Onazi who is the Chief Labour Officer, said the Ministry is particularly happy with the launching of the Media toolkit and its adaptation for use in Nigeria, adding that the importance of the toolkit to good governance of organized labour migration management in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.
He therefore stated that the usage of the toolkit in the labour sector of the Nigerian economy will contribute immensely to quality reportage by Journalists in the area of forced labour and recruitment aimed at reducing unfair and abusive labour practices that impede on the human, economic and labour rights of migrant workers in Nigeria.
Consequently, he enjoined all stakeholders in the Nigerian migratory space to support the Media in their effort to operationalize the toolkit on forced labour reportage and fair recruitment, in order to achieve its overarching objective in Nigeria.
“The Ministry will continue to encourage collaboration between state and non-state actors in the national context to promote safe, fair and regular labour migration in a bid to combat the increasing challenges of irregular migration, exploitative practices, forced labour, smuggling and human trafficking, thereby making migration a win-win situation for all parties involved”, he stated.
In the interactive session, he noted that international instruments on labour migration which hitherto had not been ratified, such as the 1975- Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention 1975 (No. 143) and the 1997-Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No.181) have been recommended for ratification and the process is ongoing, adding that the provisions of the conventions are already operational in Nigeria, although they have not been ratified.
He, however, pointed out that, “The 2011 Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) was not recommended for ratification for now, as most African countries are having challenges with that particular convention. There is a need to have data to measure the domestic workers Convention and with time, attention will be given to it”.
Also speaking, Adenike Adebayo Ajala, the representative of the Director General, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Timothy Olawale, said the media plays a very important and sensitive role in reporting migration issues, adding that NECA will continue to collaborate with the media to ensure that advocacy for fair recruitment and the elimination of forced labour is on the front burner.
The NECA boss urged journalists to balance their reportage from both the sides of the employer and the employee, and to also create awareness about the best way to migrate to other countries.
The ILO Media Toolkit was adapted to Nigeria’s context by Emeka Xris Obiezu and Tunde Salman Jimoh. The toolkit was originally developed by Charles Autheman, Kevin Burden, Jane Colombini, Maria Gallotti and Lou Tessier based on the lessons learned from several media engagement Programmes of the ILO and other agencies as well as building on the wealth of experience of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The two-day workshop was attended by Journalists and other organizations such as; The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Centre for Youths Integrated Development (CYID), and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), amongst others.