Living Wages For Nigerian Workers

The controversy surrounding the minimum wage for Nigerian workers is not just unfortunate but also deeply concerning, as it has created further divisions. With inflation reaching 33.20 percent as of March 2024, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics, and the country’s economic challenges negatively impacting workers, it is vital for a responsible and responsive government, as well as employers, to recognize the need for a living wage.

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Regrettably, instead of addressing this issue with the necessary sincerity, many employers and the government, particularly at the federal level, have resorted to political maneuvering, turning a critical matter like the minimum wage into a game.

On May 1, the Federal Government approved salary increases ranging from 25 to 35 percent for civil servants across various consolidated salary structures, raising the new wage from N30,000 to N47,250 and stating that the increments had been in effect since January 1, 2024.

However, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected this so-called wage increase, labeling it as “mischievous.” NLC President, Joe Ajaero, accused the government of insincerity for failing to reconvene the adjourned meeting of the 37-member Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.

Ajaero, estimating the living wage promised to Nigerian workers by President Bola Tinubu to be around N615,000 due to the realities of post-subsidy removal in the country, has drawn another battle line with the Federal Government, setting a deadline of May 31.

Nevertheless, we commend certain state governors who have demonstrated courage and genuine commitment to the welfare of their workers by announcing new wages. Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State deserves particular praise, as he has been leading the way with a minimum wage of N40,000 since 2021, which he has now increased to N70,000 as of May 1, 2024.

Similarly, Governor Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State has added a N10,000 increase for civil servants in the state. During the zonal hearings of the Tripartite Committee, Governor Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State suggested a new minimum wage of N45,000.

More recently, the 36 governors, under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), expressed a different stance from the Federal Government in a statement signed by its Chairman, Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State. While congratulating the workers for their perseverance and dedication, the NGF maintains that despite recent wage adjustments, the 37-member Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage is still in consultation and has yet to conclude its work.

Although it is evident that achieving a living wage of N615,000 will require a fight, we support other labor-friendly stakeholders in calling for a united front between the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to work towards a common goal.

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