Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, marked the country’s 63rd independence day anniversary on Sunday by announcing a temporary minimum wage increase for lower-paid workers, just two days before major labor unions planned to begin an indefinite strike on October 3 in protest against the rising cost of living.
“Based upon our talks with labor, business, and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage award to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation for the next six months,” Tinubu stated. The average low-grade worker will receive an additional 25,000 naira ($32), taking their salaries to $71.
The move aims to mitigate the impact of economic reforms that the government deems essential to revive Nigeria’s economy. Tinubu emphasized his commitment to reshaping and modernizing the economy and securing the lives, liberty, and property of the people.
Since Tinubu’s election in May, his government ended a long-standing fuel subsidy and liberalized the naira currency to attract more foreign investment. While these reforms were applauded by investors, the country is grappling with a 25% inflation rate and soaring fuel prices, making it challenging for citizens to make ends meet.
Petrol, widely used in Nigeria for vehicles and by small businesses and households to power generators due to inadequate electricity production, has become more expensive. The minimum wage increase, however, falls short of expectations, with the monthly salary much lower than the $260 demanded by unions.
Reactions on the street were mixed, with some seeing the increase as potentially helpful in the current economic state, while others expressed concern that it is insufficient to meet basic needs.
President Tinubu made no reference to the looming indefinite strike by unions during his address.