Presidency Breaks Silence on Labour’s ₦250,000 Minimum Wage Demand

The presidency has rejected the proposal from the country’s labour unions for a minimum wage of ₦250,000, deeming it “unrealistic” and “unaffordable.” Presidential Advisor Bayo Onanuga stated that such a requirement is beyond the financial capabilities of both the federal government and the private sector.

During a live radio program, Crossfire, on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM Lagos, Onanuga explained, “The amount they’re demanding is unrealistic. It cannot be paid by the Federal Government or the private sector. All of them will shut down. The governors have also said they cannot pay the ₦60,000 that the private sector and the Federal Government were offering before. That’s where we are today. I think that labour should reconsider its position.”

Onanuga further highlighted the budgetary constraints, noting, “If you look at this year’s budget of ₦28 trillion, and you are paying ₦5 trillion on wages alone, what are you going to spend on the other things that the government does?”

The labour unions’ demand stems from weeks of fruitless negotiations on a new minimum wage. On June 3, organized labour initiated an ongoing strike that has shut down vital services and crippled businesses across Nigeria. They argue that the current ₦30,000 minimum wage is insufficient, citing the withdrawal of petrol subsidies and currency unification as exacerbating economic conditions for workers.

Labour unions insist that the Minimum Wage Act of 2019, signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari, should be revisited every five years to align with modern economic needs. As a response, President Bola Tinubu established a tripartite committee in January 2024 to negotiate a new minimum wage.

Initially, labour demanded ₦615,000, then reduced their request to ₦494,000, and finally settled on ₦250,000. On the other hand, workers turned down offers ranging from ₦48,000 to ₦60,000 from both the public and private sectors.

Following a week-long suspension of their walkout, labour unions and the government resumed negotiations. The President directed the Minister of Finance to present a new minimum wage model. Despite these efforts, the government’s offer of ₦62,000 did not meet the labour unions’ demand of ₦250,000, resulting in another deadlock.

The President is now expected to make a decisive move by transmitting an executive bill to the National Assembly to approve a new minimum wage.