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Country’s minimum wage lowest among other 7

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By Usman Oladimeji

Minimum wage in Nigeria has remained unchanged for six years.

An analysis has revealed that Nigeria has the lowest minimum wage among other seven selected African countries, setting the standard for workers in the continent’s largest economy at ₦30,000. With the average exchange rate of ₦1,500 to a dollar, after 30 days of work, a Nigerian employee only takes home just $20, which is barely sufficient to purchase half a bag of rice in the current economic climate with the country. The minimum wage in Nigeria is based on monthly income with an average working period of 8 hours daily and 5 days weekly

In 2023, the minimum wage for workers in various African countries varies significantly. For the seven selected countries; workers in Seychelles receive $456 monthly, while those in Libya earn $325. Morocco follows with $315, Gabon with $256, South Africa with $242, Mauritius with $240, and Equatorial Guinea with $224. Nigeria’s national minimum wage stood at ₦18,000 for seven years before finally being increased to ₦30,000 in 2018, where it has remained unchanged for the past six years. Nigerian workers are struggling to navigate the turbulent economic conditions faced with skyrocketing inflation rates which reached 31.70 percent in February, along with food costs consuming a large portion of Nigerians’ income at 37.92 percent.

There are signs of hope for Nigerian workers.

Workers had expressed worry over the unrealistic pay amidst the severe economic crisis, with headline inflation reaching a 27-year high. Despite the naira gaining strength against the dollar, the exchange rate remains at approximately ₦1,300/$, causing further concern among the public. In 2018, the value of the naira against the dollar was around ₦400 at the parallel market when the minimum wage of ₦30,000 was revealed. Nonetheless, there are signs of hope for Nigerian workers as rumours suggest that President Bola Tinubu could announce a new minimum wage in his speech on Workers’ Day, May 1st.

At the start of the year, a committee was formed by the Federal Government to discuss the national minimum wage. Vice President Kashim Shettima led the inauguration of the 37-member panel, which included members from the federal and state governments, the private sector, and organized labor. The ultimate mission of the committee is to propose a new minimum wage for the country. With the speculation of a new minimum wage announcement in May, it was gathered that the National Minimum Wage Committee was working to ensure that all negotiations regarding the new rate were finalized before then.

Recommendation for new minimum wage is expected in March.

President Bola Tinubu launched a committee on January 30, 2024, with anticipation to present its recommendations for an executive bill to the National Assembly before the current ₦30,000 minimum wage expires in March 2024. Negotiations on the new minimum wage began as both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) threatened to go on strike due to dissatisfaction with the handling of the fuel subsidy removal compensation, specifically the failure to pay the promised ₦35,000 wage award.

It was stated that the federal government aimed to establish a fair and sustainable minimum wage that would benefit all parties involved. Despite this, the NLC objected to the committee’s formation, claiming that certain members did not adequately represent the workers’ interests. At the zonal public hearings held in various cities across Nigeria, employees from the North-West region specifically asked for a salary of ₦485,000. Meanwhile, the North-East workers pushed for a wage of ₦560,000, while in the North-Central, NLC called for ₦709,000 and TUC requested ₦447,000.

Related Article: NLC proposes ₦709,000 as the new minimum wage

The South-West sought for ₦794,000, the South-South requested ₦850,000, and the South-East asked for ₦540,000 under NLC and ₦447,000 under TUC. However, Adamawa and Bauchi state governments proposed a lower amount of ₦45,000 as the new minimum wage. The NLC issued a statement recently emphasizing that governors must comply with the new minimum wage once it is officially enacted into law. They warned of stricter penalties for governors who fail to abide by the legislation, indicating their commitment to enforcing consequences for non-compliance.

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