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Adams Oshiomhole Tackles Abba Moro As Senate Warns Govt Agencies, Private Sector Against Age Discrimination For Employment

There was mild drama during senate plenary on Wednesday when lawmakers were debating a motion by Senator Abba Moro, Benue South, against what he termed perceived discrimination against Nigerians on account of age by government agencies and the private sector.

Part of the motion urged Ministries and Agencies of the government to prohibit and discourage both public and private employers in the country from putting up job adverts with inherent undertone calculated to deprive any qualified Nigerian of being gainfully employed merely by reason of his or her age.

While contributing to the debate, Senator Oyekanchi Nwebonyi, Ebonyi North, urged employers to put a stop to the age limit.

But senator Adams Oshiomhole, Edo North, disagreed with the motion,saying, “I appreciate the intention of senator Moro but this motion is not enforceable.

“You cannot under the Nigerian laws impose on an employer, policies with regard to age.

“However in the Nigerian labour statute, it’s clear that once you are up to the age of 18 you are employable.

“But the decision to employ whether you are 18, 19, 20 or 40 is the discretion of the employer.

“And this Senate must not be seen to pass resolutions in the manner that will portray us as if we are devaluing the essence of the conclusion that we reach in this house.

“There’s no law prohibiting employment of people who are 30 or 40 or 50 but the employer depending on the kind of job they have, the skill required for that job, the strength and all the other things that the average employer looks at, in making a decision.

“I do not think with profound respect to my distinguished Senators, brothers and sisters that we should interfere on that.”

Oshiomhole’s contribution was obviously seen as strong, and the presiding officer asked, “in essence you are opposed to this motion?” To which the former labour leader said, “I’m opposed to this motion with profound respect.”

Senator Osita Ngwu, Enugu West, criticized Oshiomhole for not allowing those in support to make their own contributions before shutting it down.

Ngwu, who was in support of the motion, then recalled how one of his friends named Goddy, who graduated with him and studied mechanical engineering, had to repeatedly falsified his age in order to  be qualified for a job.

He said while “I got a job immediately after youth service but Goddy did not get a job. Goddy continued to amend his age on his cv until it got to a point he did not even go to primary school.

“He had to remove primary school completely because he’s trying to amend his age to be young to be able to get a job.

“Now Goddy has joined politics but Goddy is in dilemma because he has forged his age so many times because of job opportunity he was trying to get but now Goddy has his CVs with different ages.”

He added that it has become a source of petition against Goddy.

The contribution surprised his colleagues with the presiding officer, Godswill Akpabio saying, “you are saying that your friend was forging. Because of this situation, your friend has remained a forger and you have not corrected him that forgery is a crime.

“He has forged his age that he has now eliminated his (true date of birth).He was born after his primary school. That was what you said.

“I don’t know what you did as a distinguished member of this society to correct the continuous forgery.

But the senator again rose to defend himself saying, “that’s why senator Abba moro moved this motion. This motion would help us to correct that.

“What did you do when you noticed that he had forged his age declaration to the point where he was now born after his primary school education? What did you do?, Akpabio further probed.

“Of course Mr president, I advised against it because I know the implication. I can’t support such,” he responded.

“Thank you for your contribution that you are in sympathy with the motion,” Akpabio added.

Senator Wasiu Eshinlokun, Lagos Central, while supporting the motion said the development “portends very grave danger for our society because of age people can be discriminated against.”

He called for continuous interrogation and advice  that government agencies should not discriminate, especially against someone that is qualified for employment.

Earlier, Abba Moro’s motion was seconded by Senator Neda Imasuen , Edo South.

In moving the motion Moro said, “The Senate notes the uproar within the public over the unabated violation of chapter four section 42 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended which guarantees every citizen the right to freedom from discrimination.”

He said “discrimination as defined in the dictionary is a different treatment, especially a failure to treat all persons equally when no reasonable distinction can be found between those favoured and those not favoured.

He added that “the international labour organisation defines employment discrimination in economic terms as a violation of human rights that entails waste of human talent with detrimental effect on productivity and economic growth and generates socioeconomic inequality that undermines social cohesion and solidarity and acts as a brake on the reduction of poverty.”

He added that, “it’s pathetic that a graduate in Nigeria who could not get a job upon graduation and decided to go back to school with the hope that a higher qualification vis a vis a second or master 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’s now above the age of employment and therefore not unemployable by the sole reason of age.

“It’s ironic that a graduate in this country can serve in the national Youth Service Corps programme at age 30 but cannot be gainfully employed thereafter on the fact that he or she is above thirty years, a situation that’s a flagrant breach of his fundamental human rights.”

He further noted that “the circumstances described in the foregoing presents the predicament of the Nigerian youths who have the prerequisite qualification, knowledge , skills and is ready to work but disqualified or excluded on the sole and unjustifiable ground that he or she is above the age limit by reason of his or her birth and this sad situation has left many to commit age fraud by going all the way out of  their age to remain within the age limit of employability to the Nigeria Civil service and of course all other employers of labour in the country.”

The Senate accordingly resolved by urging the federal ministry of labour and employment to immediately draw up policies that relate to equality, opportunity and treatment of access to employment at all levels.

First Bank

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