Registered 'yard boy' at Ahmadu Bello University

“Child labor refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.” – Wikipedia.

In certain environments, there are underage people who run errands for visitors and get paid for it. This is very typical in certain ‘borrowed’ environments like tertiary campuses, hospitals, NYSC camps and the likes. I used ‘borrowed environments’ because people merely visit these places for a short period of time and may never go back after they leave.

I’m bringing this up now because Imam Imam, the spokesperson of Sokoto State Governor, posted a photo of a young boy whose job is to run errands for students at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. In this case, the university authorities have registered young people like that as ‘YARD BOYS’, as you can see on the back of his vest. Is this wrong, is this right?

A while ago, Emmanuella, the little comedian famous for her “this is not my real face” video kit, was trending on social media, and some people were asking why she’s not getting endorsement deals. Are they right to ask that for her? Is she supposed to be performing at comedy shows for money in the first place? What’s the difference between her and these ABU yard boys? These questions go from moral burdens, to the actual law on child labor, to human right concerns.

It’s unsettling that our definition of child labor is not very tight. And that’s how we can say no to kids hawking during school hours, but we can afford to remain indifferent when they hawk outside school hours. Who knows, these minors running errands would probably not catch our attention if they weren’t actually registered by the university.

What we need is to clearly define our stance on child labor and answer the question: is it okay for kids to work?


We need a serious reorientation on child labor practices in this country. Too many people have their own grey areas. And the economy isn’t helping matters.

When you say ‘reorientation’, Tan, it presupposes we have one – orientation. I would say that. And you’re right. This economy isn’t helping.

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