President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria has announced a six-month increase to the minimum wage as workers in the country are preparing for an indefinite strike.
Unions have been demanding a raise in the monthly wage to $255 to cope with the significant rise in the cost of living since Mr. Tinubu assumed office in May.
However, the president’s decision to raise the minimum wage by only $32 falls far short of the unions’ demands. The new monthly minimum salary will now stand at $70. Despite this, President Tinubu has also promised to expedite the rollout of inexpensive gas-powered buses to assist with the recent three-fold increase in fuel prices.
The surge in fuel prices came as a result of Mr. Tinubu’s removal of a fuel subsidy that had kept petrol prices low for many years in Africa’s largest economy. The decision was accompanied by the country’s abandonment of its currency peg, allowing the Nigerian naira to trade freely for the first time. Unfortunately, this move resulted in one of the biggest falls in the naira’s value in history.
As a consequence of these economic changes, life has become increasingly difficult for struggling Nigerians. Inflation rates, which were already high, soared due to the increased cost of imports. This has placed a heavy burden on the people.
In a nationwide televised address on the occasion of Nigeria’s 63rd year of independence from the UK, President Tinubu outlined a series of measures aimed at mitigating the current economic hardships faced by citizens.
The president expressed his regret at the challenges faced by the nation and stated that he wished these circumstances did not exist. However, he asserted that enduring the hardships was necessary to pave the way for a brighter future.
The 71-year-old reiterated the importance of reform, acknowledging that it may come with its share of challenges. However, the potential benefits are significant as the government can now redirect the billions saved from fuel subsidies towards projects such as establishing a compressed natural gas bus network.
He emphasised the vision of a future where Nigeria’s abundance and prosperity are shared equitably among all citizens, rather than being concentrated in the hands of a select few driven by greed. The goal is to build a Nigeria where hunger, poverty, and hardship become remnants of an increasingly distant past.
Despite these aspirations, the main labour unions – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) – stand firm on their decision to proceed with an indefinite strike starting on Tuesday. Union leaders argue that the government has not adequately addressed the suffering caused by the removal of fuel subsidies.
While recognizing this impasse, the government has urged them to consider suspending their strike in order to allow more time for negotiations.