During Senate plenary on Wednesday, there was a dramatic scenario when Senator Adams Oshiomhole disagreed with a motion by Senator Abba Moro, against what he termed perceived discrimination against Nigerians on account of age by government agencies and the private sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that 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 Edo Governor 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, 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.
The Senate, accordingly, urged 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.