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Minimum wage does not cover basic food needs

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By Usman Oladimeji

The cost of a basic food basket in Nigeria nears N48,130 as of January 2023.

The increasing food price due to inflation in the country has induced intense worry for Nigerians, as a report by an international e-commerce platform, Picodi reveals that the country’s monthly minimum net wage is unable to cater for basic food needs required for survival by an average Nigerian family. As of the beginning of January 2023, the reported cost of a “basic food basket” was N48,130, up from N40,980 the previous year and 60.4% more than the country’s monthly minimum net income of N30,000.

This shows that food costs are rising faster than the lowest-paid workers in the nation. The report includes milk, bread, rice, eggs, cheese, steak, fruits, and vegetables in the basket. In January, 10 liters of milk cost N12,960, 10 loaves of bread cost N5,390, 1.5 kilograms of rice cost N1,670, 20 eggs cost N1,400, and 1 kilogram of cheese cost N1,990, as revealed by the report. Additionally, 6 kilograms of meat cost N12,310, 5 kilograms of fruit cost N5,520, and 8 kilograms of vegetables cost N7,040.

Nigeria ranked 60th on the basic food price index list.

Further review of the data indicated that the 60.4 percent is the highest in five years when compared with the same period in 2022, which was 36.6 percent, 17.7 percent in 2021, 8.1 percent in 2020, and 5.1 percent in the same period in 2019. The 2023 Minimum Wages report by Picodi shows that the basic foodstuff basket price in January 2023 of N48,130 surged by an amount of N16,594 when compared to the 2019 price of N31,536

Seven of the 67 nations surveyed in the research did not raise their minimum wage from January 2022 levels. Nigeria was one of these countries. In terms of the basic food price index, the survey placed Nigeria at the 60th best spot. The Nigerian inflation hit a 17-year high, fueled in part by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The country’s inflation rate reached 21.34 percent in December 2022, the highest level in 17 years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), down from 21.47 percent (Nov 2022) the month before.

Accelerated inflation growth has eroded the N30,000 minimum wage.

However, food inflation, which accounts for half of the overall inflation rate, was at 23.34 percent year over year. The NBS stated that the cost of staples like bread and cereals, as well as foods like potatoes, yams, and other tubers, oil, and fat, all went up, which contributed to the overall rise in the food price index. Nigeria’s accelerated inflation growth has eroded the N30,000 minimum wage by 55 percent and widened the poverty net with an estimated five million people in 2022, according to the World Bank report on Nigeria Development Updates.

Severe inflation in 2022 is thought to have driven an extra five million Nigerians into poverty between January and September 2022, owing mostly to higher costs of local staples like rice, bread, yam, and wheat, particularly in non-rural regions. An estimated 15 million Nigerians fell into poverty between 2020 and 2022 as a direct result of the price shock. The World Bank research noted a decline from $82 in 2019 to $26 in 2020 (N19,355) for the minimum wage.

There are still options for enacting crucial macroeconomic changes.

Nigeria, which has been heavily reliant and prosperous primarily to the oil industry, is currently in a difficult position, according to Shubham Chaudhuri, country director for Nigeria at the World Bank. According to Chaudhuri, Nigeria has options for enacting crucial macroeconomic and structural changes that would reduce the country’s vulnerabilities and spur growth and development. If Nigeria succeeds in this endeavor, as Chaudhuri claims it would, then the country’s per capita incomes will rise, poverty will be reduced in a lasting way, and the lives of many Nigerians will improve.

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