EditorialLiving Wages For Nigerian Workers

Living Wages For Nigerian Workers

May 5, (THEWILL)- The hullabaloo over the issue of minimum wage for Nigerian workers is not only unfortunate but quite worrisome as another battle line has already been drawn.

With inflation rising to 33.20 percent as at March 2024, according to the  National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) report and the harsh realities of the country’s economic woes impacting negatively on workers, a responsible and responsive government, as well as employers of labour in general, should know that workers really deserve a living wage.

It is, however, sad that rather than confront the issue with all the sincerity it deserves, most employers and the government, especially at the federal level, have resorted to playing smart and turning a very sensitive matter like the minimum wage into politics.

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While it was not difficult for the Federal Government to arrange mouth-watering and juicy incentives for political appointees and National Assembly members, and within a very short notice too, it has been playing games with the issues of minimum wage for workers.

On May 1, the Federal Government approved between 25 and 35 percent salary increases for civil servants across various consolidated salary structures, thus raising the new wage from N30, 000 to N47.250 and saying the increments had taken effect from January 1, 2024.

But the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the so-called wage increase, describing it as ”mischievous.”  NLC President, Joe Ajaero, accused the government of insincerity for failing to reconvene the meeting of the 37-member Tripartite Committee inaugurated on the National Minimum wage that was earlier adjourned.

Ajaero, who had estimated the living wages promised to Nigerian workers by President Bola Tinubu to be about  N615,000, following the post-subsidy removal realities in the country, has therefore drawn another battle line with the Federal Government with May 31 as deadline.

We however commend some state governors who have been courageous enough and demonstrated sincere commitment to their workers’ welfare by announcing a new wage for the workers.

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, deserves every commendation as he had been leading the way with the payment of the highest minimum wage of  N40,000 since 2021 which he has now increased to N70,000 on May 1, 2024.

While his Ebonyi State counterpart, Francis Nwifuru, has also added N10,000 increase for civil servants in the state, Adamawa State governor, Umaru Fintiri and his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, had, during zonal hearings of the Tripartite Committee,  suggested a new minimum wage of N45,000.

Only recently, the 36 governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, also adopted a different position on the issue from the Federal Government.

While congratulating the workers for their perseverance and diligence to duties, NGF maintains that despite recent wage adjustments, “the 37-member Tripartite Committee inaugurated on the National Minimum wage is still in consultation and yet to conclude its work.”

Although we acknowledge the fact that the demand for a living wage of N615,000 cannot be won without a fight, we want to join other labour-friendly stakeholders in calling for a more united front between NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in achieving a common goal.

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