Labour pay rise deal sealed weeks before Nigeria’s presidential election

The Nigerian government has  recommended a fifty percent rise in the minimum wage of public sector workers, weeks before a crucial presidential election where the cost of living has become a major campaign item. 

Labour Minister, Chris Ngige said in Abuja that the government would send a bill to parliament proposing an increase in the minimum monthly salary to 27,000 naira from 18,000 now, as approved by the powerful National Council of States, a constitutional body made up of President Muhammadu Buhari’s top officials, regional governors, heads of the National Assembly and past presidents. 

Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation relies on crude sales for around two-thirds of government revenue, but lower prices pushed it into recession in 2016.

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Though it emerged from the downturn in early 2017, growth remains weak and inflation hit a seven-month high of 11.44 percent in December.

Unions went on strike last year over the minimum wage, initially demanding a rise to 50,000 naira a month.

President Buhari, whose bid for re-election on February 16 faces a strong challenge from main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar, said in January he would increase the minimum wage but had not specified by how much.

“The National Council of State has approved a minimum wage of 27,000 monthly. A bill to this effect is to be forwarded to the National Assembly,” Ngige told reporters in Abuja, a Reuters report stated. 

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Some government workers could receive a higher salary of 30,000 naira a month, the labour minister added.

He did not say when the bill would be sent to lawmakers.

Ngige announced the bill shortly before the central bank’s monetary policy committee decided to hold its benchmark interest rate at 14 percent.

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