A big step against age discrimination was taken today after Nigerian lawmakers moved to ban age limits for Government employment.

We reported last year on the passage of an age discrimination bill in Nigeria. This week, the bill was finally passed.

The House of Representatives in Nigeria today approved banning age discrimination against job seekers in Federal Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs). The new law will apply to all Government bodies, except those security agencies such as the Nigerian Armed Forced, where there may be requirements for high levels of physical ability.

An initial clause contained in the bill added a maximum age limit of 45 years for new Government employees. But, after objections were raised, this clause was deleted from the Bill.

Co-sponsor of the Bill, Sergius Ogun (APC, Edo), said that he hoped private employers would follow MDAs and remove any age limits imposed against jobs seekers, although no legislation against private sector employers is planned at this stage.

It seeks to eradicate age discrimination against those who are seeking employment in Federal Government agencies, to lift age barrier standing against qualified youths from being gainfully employed in Federal Government agencies on the basis of their age.
— Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Mr Edward Pwajok
It is a key responsibility of we parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, to ensure that no Nigerian job seeker is discriminated against with regard to age in employment opportunities in Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)
— Sergius Ogun (APC, Edo)

Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) who co-sponsored the bill, pointed out that more must be done to combat all forms of discrimination. He claims that sex, religion and race discrimination were prevalent in government employment. He called for the removal of any barrier that “deprives qualified, energetic, and patriotic Nigerians the opportunity to fulfil their goals and contribute to societal development.”

The bill was unanimously adopted and passed in its third reading.

University strikes

Calls for change had come after strikes amongst Nigeria universities caused many students to suffer long delays in graduating. When combined with 6 year long degree courses and at least one year in the youth service scheme, an age limit of 30 severely restricted the opportunity for talented individuals to enter into Government employment.