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As Nigeria marked its 63rd independence day anniversary on Sunday, President Bola Tinubu offered a temporary minimum wage hike for lower-paid workers.
“Based upon our talks with labour, business, and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage award, increment, to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation,” he said
For the next six months, the average low-grade worker will receive an additional 25,000 naira ($32) taking their salaries to $71.
The move aims to help offset the impact is economic reforms are having, changes his government says are essential to revive Nigeria’s flagging economy.
“At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this nation. Among those promises were pledges to reshape and modernise our economy and to secure the lives, liberty, and property of the people,” he said.
Following Tinubu’s election in May, he ended a long-standing fuel subsidy and liberalised the naira currency in a bid to attract more foreign investment.
His government said the reforms, applauded by investors, were necessary to revive the flagging Nigerian economy.
But with inflation now at 25 per cent and fuel prices soaring, people are struggling to make ends meet.
In addition to its use in vehicles, petrol is widely used in Nigeria by millions of small businesses and households to power generators as the country does not produce enough electricity to meet the needs of citizens.
And the increase to the minimum wage announced on Sunday is less than hoped for. The monthly salary falls far short of the $260 unions had demanded.
Reaction on the street to the news was mixed.
“Considering the present economic state right now, the 25,000 might go a long way considering how judiciously we put it into use. At least, we should go for our needs and not our wants,” said make-up artist, Olabimpe Ibrahim.
But civil servant, Joseph Ioryem, disagreed saying an average person can live on that kind of money.
“How much is even a bag of rice? A bag of rice is almost 35-38,000 naira. A family of three or four can’t live within a month period, he can’t live with 55,000 naira ($71),” he said.
During Tinubu’s address, he made no reference to the looming indefinite strike by unions which is due to start on Tuesday.