Who Will End The Regime Of Age Discrimination Against Job Seekers In Nigeria?

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The Nigerian Economic Summit Group recently projected the country’s unemployment rate to grow to 37% in 2023. This projection is four point higher than the 33.3% of unemployment data released by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2020.

A large number of this projected percentage are between the ages of 18-45. That’s the age that make up about 65% of the entire population of Nigeria.

Both government and the private sector have not just created enough jobs for the ever growing population of the country. Universities are producing thousands of graduates every year for the already oversaturated labour market.

Beyond the fact that there are no enough jobs, the Nigerian system too, has been very brutal with its compassionless age discrimination against majority of job seekers.

Almost every job adverts in Nigeria come with age restrictions. Most government jobs are only opened for people between the ages of 18-29. This is not minding the fact that most victims of this discrimination may have started searching for jobs unsuccessfully for years before they crossed the preferred age.

My worry is that, why should the system discriminate against people because of the problem that is never their fault? Why should Nigerians suffer discrimination for what they don’t have control over?

In Nigeria, to get admission to study in the University is a problem. Some people will sit more than four times for tertiary institutions entry exams before they’re finally admitted. Most of them, it’s not because they fail the exams but because the system hardly rewards brilliance. Brilliance most times, is replaced with who you know.

For those who are fortunate to get admitted into tertiary institutions, incessant industrial actions by members of Academic and non-teaching unions, caused by government’s inability to fund education compel them to spend more years than their programmes demand in the University. Four years courses become six years programmes.

When they finally graduate after spending years looking for admission and more years than expected in school, they’ll now spend another countless years looking for unavailable jobs.

Who’s responsible for ensuring qualified people are admitted into the University? Government. Who’s responsible for students graduating in record time from school? Government. Who’s responsible for creating jobs? Government and private sector.

In 2019, the house of representatives passed a bill banning age discrimination against job seekers but almost four years after, nothing has been heard about it. Whether there’s a concurrence from the Senate or not, nobody knows.

Besides, the problem of Nigeria has never been unavailability of laws but implementation. Even if the bill was passed by both houses of the national assembly and assented to by the President, there’s no guarantee that it won’t end like academic exercise as so many.

My appeal to the incoming government of President-elect, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu is that there should be a firm position on this issue with a view to ending the regime of discrimination. If certain ages are considered too old to work in government, there should be alternatives in form of a scheme to provide them with skills and funds to do business.

There should be a clear policy on this because government cannot cause a problem them push the consequences to innocent citizens.

 

By Inyali Peter, who writes from Abuja