In 1981, the minimum wage was more than $125; today, it is less than $60 – NLC

more than one-third of the states are not paying new minimum wage
Nigerian Labour Congress

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has slammed Nigerian politicians for being unconcerned about the plight of the country's workforce.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba said the minimum wage in 1981 was more than $125, but that it is now less than $60 in an interview with Channels Television's Sunrise Daily.

“The first minimum wage in 1981by Shagari was more than $125. Today it is less than $60 because of the dwindling fortune of our economy,” he said.

“Instead of even appreciating, celebrating and paying workers, this crop of politicians, those that are not paying are not people that mean for Nigerians and our system.”

According to the NLC chief, Nigeria's current index cannot support an average worker, noting that a bag of rice costs N30,000.

Though acknowledging that workers are in a "very sorry situation," Wabba claims that the welfare of their employees is not a top priority for some state governments.

The labor leader threatened a strike in states where governors have yet to enforce the minimum wage program.

He added,

“Today, more than one-third of the states are not paying. Some actually implemented for Levels 1-6. It is only about lack of resources, it is about whether they are committed to workers’ welfare.

“If not, how can a state like Rivers be talking about workers’ welfare up till now. This is the real issue. Those governors that are good, are not in the same category.

Wabba's comments came just hours after the Minister of Labour and Jobs, Dr Chris Ngige, chastised governors for failing to pay employees in their states the new minimum wage.

During an interview on Channels Television's Sunday Politics, Ngige said that any employer who pays its employees less than N30,000 is breaking the law.

“If you read the Act well, you will see the applicability of the Act. The applicability is that all parts of the Federation (Section II); Section III also says N30,000 shall be paid, the operating word is shall.

“It does not give room for picking and choosing, it is a must. The state governors that are not paying are breaching the law of the land,” the minister said.

On April 18, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019 into law.