Nigeria’s minimum wage of N30, 000 cannot meet the needs of average Nigerians, especially workers or those in the fixed income bracket.

The spiralling inflation is hurting several Nigerian workers as many struggle to afford basic items such as food, shelter and clothing.

According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, the food inflation rate in September 2022 was 23.34 per cent on a year-on-year basis, marking an uptick from the 23.12 per cent recorded in the previous month. The increase in the food index was attributed to the increases in prices of bread and other food products. On a monthly basis, food prices went up by 1.43 per cent, slowing from a 1.98 per cent rise in the previous month, attributed to a reduction in prices of some food items.

The annual inflation rate in Nigeria accelerated for the eighth straight month to 20.77 per cent in September of 2022 from 20.52 per cent in the previous month.

It was the highest reading since September of 2005, even after a recent 150 basis point interest rate hike by the Central Bank of Nigeria, largely due to a weaker currency that has raised the prices of imported products. According to the report, this was the highest inflation rate in the last 17 years. The major rise in the cost of products and the poor state of the economy presently have imposed hardship on Nigerians and threaten to raise the level of poverty among citizens in the country.

The minimum wage in Nigeria has remained unchanged at N30, 000 monthly in 2022. According to the NBS, the maximum rate of the minimum wage for employees is N30,000 monthly while minimum is N18,000 monthly. In April 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed a new minimum wage bill. The law ushered in a new pay structure for Nigerian workers with the Federal government commencing implementation almost immediately. The bill makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay their workers the sum of N30, 000.

Some state governors opposed the N30,000 minimum wage, with many of them saying they would be unable to pay their workers. On the other hand, private entities have refused to implement the law.

The law, however, excluded persons who are employing fewer than 25 workers; persons who work in a ship that sails out of Nigeria’s jurisdiction, and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.

However, workers are the hardest hit, with many of them struggling to afford the basic things of life.

A Lagos-based civil servant, Ope Oni said “ Recently, the Lagos State government said it will increase salaries of workers by a 100 per cent. I can assure you that 34 states will not be able to cope with that. Some states are still paying N18, 000 as the minimum wage and are lamenting that they cannot afford to pay N30,000. It is only Lagos State that has the capacity to pull that string. I really do not agree that the government should increase it by 100 per cent. They can increase it by 20-30 per cent or at a maximum by 50 per cent. I doubt they will survive if they want to increase by a 100 per cent.”

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