The Nigerian Senate, also known as the Red Chamber, on July 19, resolved to remove age limits for jobseekers. If the executive agrees to this, job adverts in Nigeria will be mandated by law to no longer include age requirements. Employers will also not be allowed to screen job seekers based on age.
Online, there have been mixed reactions to this news. Some have hailed the move for removing barriers to employment, while others say it’s a smokescreen that shies away from addressing the root causes of unemployment.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the Senate adopted a motion. It had the title “Age Requirement Pre-condition for Employment in Nigeria, Urgent Need for Intervention.” Abba Moro, a PDP senator from Benue South, sponsored this motion.
Moro argued that age limits were discriminatory and violated Chapter 4, Section 42(2) of the Nigerian Constitution. The section touches on the right to freedom from discrimination.
Moro also cited the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a UN agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice. He argued that economic discrimination fell short of the ILO’s standards.
In Moro’s words, it was pathetic “that a graduate in Nigeria who could not get a job upon graduation and decided to back to school with the hope that a higher qualification, vis-a-vis a second or Masters Degree, could give him a better employment opportunity is thrown into a career paradox when upon completion of his Master’s Degree he comes out to find that he is now above the age of employment and therefore not employable by the sole reason of his age.”
He added, “It is ironical that a graduate in this country can serve in the National Youth Service Corps programme at age 30 but cannot be gainfully employed after that on the fact that he/ she is now above 30 years, a situation that is a flagrant breach of his fundamental rights.”
Moro noted that this discrimination created a breeding ground for age fraud within the Nigerian Civil Service and beyond.
What else should you know?
The Senate is asking the Federal Ministry of Labour, Employment, and Productivity, and other related agencies to dissuade private employers from turning away people based on age. It also wants the ministry to develop policies that grant equal access and treatment in the workplace.
All of this remains tentative. But if it passes into law, older Nigerians of employable age might heave a sigh—even if temporary—of relief.