Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has announced a six-month increase to the minimum wage, but unions have said they will proceed with a planned indefinite strike from Tuesday.
The president’s announcement came on Sunday, the 63rd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from the UK. He said the increase was necessary to cushion people from the current economic hardship.
The increase will bring the monthly minimum wage to $70, but unions are demanding a monthly wage of $255 to help deal with the sharp rise in the cost of living since Mr Tinubu took office in May.
In a televised national address, Mr Tinubu outlined measures he said would cushion people from the current economic hardship.
“There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago,” Mr Tinubu said.
“I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.”
The 71-year-old reiterated that while reform would be painful, it would be worth it as the government could now plough the billions saved from the fuel subsidy into projects like the compressed natural gas bus network.
“We now carry the costs of reaching a future in Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few,” he said.
“A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past.”
However, the main labour unions – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) – said they would proceed with the planned indefinite strike from Tuesday.
The union leaders insisted the government had failed to address the suffering caused by the removal of fuel subsidy.
The government had appealed to them to suspend the strike to allow more time for negotiations.
It remains to be seen whether the government’s announcement will be enough to avert the strike, which could have a significant impact on Nigeria’s economy.