Meet Nigerian Leaders Who Raised Minimum Wage From 1954-2024

The ongoing tripartite committee negotiations on minimum wage has failed to deliver a minimum wage for workers.

The Organised labour, federal government (FG) and organised private sector have reconvened this week after a day of nationwide strike that halted essential services in the country.

The NLC demands N494, 000 while the FG offers N60, 000 as the minimum pay for the lowest cadre in Nigeria.

Meanwhile President Bola Tinubu has said he is willing to pay higher than the disputed N60,000.

In the light of the re-emergence of discussion on the minimum wage, WikkiTimes, presents Nigerian leaders that have put up new minimum wage while they held sway. The monthly take home on the minimum for workers since 1954 are presented here:

Obafemi Awolowo

Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the premier of Western Region, implemented the first minimum wage policy in 1954. This policy initiated a robust discussion on minimum wage in Nigeria after independence.

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According to the Awolowo Foundation, Late Awolowo” introduced and successfully implemented the first minimum wage policy in Nigeria and paid to Western Nigerians in 1954 a minimum wage that doubled the amount paid to workers of the same level in some other parts of Nigeria.”

After Nigeria’s independence in 1960, same Awolowo advanced for a national minimum wage discussion. He made it a prominent campaign issue as the leader of the Action Group. In 1959, Awo, proposed a five-pound minimum wage for federal workers but lost elections to Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

Shehu Shagari

President Shehu Shagari who ruled in Nigeria in the second republic enacted the first National Minimum Wage Law in 1981. The then leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress under Hassan Sunmonu pressed harder before they could agree with the government on a N125 monthly minimum wage. The amount was equal to US$204 at the time.

Abdussalami Abubakar

General Abdussalami Abubakar took over in 1998 after the death of General Sani Abacha. As the transitional head of state, he raised salary to N3,500 from the then N450 minimum wage. He later handed over power to democratically elected president in 1999.

Olusegun Obasanjo

When Obasanjo returned as the president, civil society organisations and labour unions resurfaced. They had been banned during military era.  Shortly after the salary increase by Abdussalami Abubakar, between 2000 to 2001, President Obasanjo at his second stint as a democratic leader, increased minimum wage to N5,500. This raised the standard of many workers in Nigeria, but inflation also surged that it took many years before the government could control it. The minimum wage reached N7,500 around 2007.

Goodluck Jonathan

Around 2010, President Yar’adua /Jonathan administration adjusted the minimum wage to 11,000 from N7,500. Following requests and agitations from workers through their unions, in 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan, raised the minimum wage to N18,000. The labour had proposed the sum of N52,000 naira and later reduced it to N22,000 before finally trimming it to reach an agreement with the government to N18,000.

Muhammadu Buhari

President Buhari took the minimum wage to N30,000 in 2019 with the signing of the new minimum wage Act that same year. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been agitating for salary increment due to doubling of fuel prices and other inflation-related issues. The NLC had proposed N56,000 from the then N18,000 but after tripartite negotiations, N30,000 became the new national minimum wage. N30, 000 remains the minimum wage in Nigeria and was billed to expire in April 2024. The NLC insisted that the new minimum wage must take effect from 31 May 2024, but the Committee failed to deliver.

Bola Tinubu

To mitigate the impact of his policies in fuel subsidy and floating of Nigeria, President Tinubu promised workers a living wage in 2024 that would reflect the current economic reality in the country. Following the expiration of the existing Minimum Wage Act, which is to be reviewed every five years, Tinubu proposed to pay federal civil servants a wage award of N35,000 across board. In January, he inaugurated the tripartite committee, but it failed to reach an agreement on the minimum acceptable wage for the country.

Edo state has unilaterally announced a new minimum wage increase to N70,000 effective May 1, 2024. Lagos State pays a wage award of N35,000 since January 2024. Kano also paid civil servants wage award of N10,000 twice.

Contravening the Act

The Minimum Wage Act always has an enforcement component since it is a part of the Nigeria’s law. Sections 9, 10, and 15 of the Act listed offences that can lead to penalty. Section 10 (2) states that “an employer is liable upon conviction of such offence to a fine not exceeding N75,000.00 and an additional penalty of N10,000.00 or less for everyday that the offence continues”.

Offences in section 15 of the Act attract a maximum fine of N250,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 (six) months or both.

Section 12 empowers the Ministry of Labour and Employment and National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission to monitor the implementation of the NMW in line with the provisions of the Labour Act and the National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commissions Act.

However, BudgIT, in 2023, disclosed that 15 states did not comply with the payment of the N30, 000minimum wage.

WikkiTimes could not conform if any union of aggrieved worker has approached a court for enforcement of the Act.


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