Over 26 need not apply

There is something I have noticed with job advertisements in Nigeria that absolutely winds me up. It is the blatant age discrimination displayed by both National and Multinational firms.

In adverts placed on dailies and on these companies websites, you are likely to find “over 26 years need not apply”. This is ironic in a country like Nigeria where the average student leaves secondary school aged 17, writes the university matriculation exams once or twice and if he is fortunate gets into university at 19. Now if he puts in for a four year course, he should graduate at 23 discounting any academic palaver.

Considering that on average, the Nigerian undergraduate loses one year to strikes and shutdowns due to cult violence. This mean our model student would graduate at 24 and then has to reckon with NYSC. There is a lot to be said for our NYSC, it is a national icon of which I am very proud. I benefited from it immensely by way of friends, travel, experience and community. However, the fact that the graduate is not guaranteed a place in the service corps as soon as they leave school and have to wait for sometimes up to year to serve is ridiculous and time-wasting.

Now our model student is 25 years old and is just starting a year long service. Through no fault of his own, he does not arrive at the job market until he is 26. Imagine his frustration when NNPC, CHEVRON, Intercontinental Bank, First Bank, Zenith, TOTAL et al. tells him not to bother submitting his CV because he is over 26! And we wonder at the increase in armed robberies, kidnappings, internet scams, cult violence and the general malaise stealing our youth. This article in no way justifies these behaviours but as a people, we need to identify the roots of our problem.

The aspect the bugs me the most is these multinationals would not dare place such adverts in the west with age as criteria. They would be immediately slammed with a lawsuit.

I think it is about time we have legislation protecting this aspect of our work life and maybe a lawsuit or two would not be a bad place to start

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