National minimum wage is the lowest amount or wage that employers can legally pay employees in a particular country by collective agreement or an individual contract.

Collective agreement is the product of collective bargaining, which is, the process in which working people, through their unions, negotiate contracts with their employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family, and more.

This government detests consultation and participation of the people in the decision making process of this administration, which is against the express provision of Section 14(2)(c) of the 1999 Constitution which states that “the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured”. Tinubu, as is with all his ill-advised policies, single handedly, removed oil subsidy without consulting with labour unions even when he understood, or should have understood that this will affect the value and purchasing power of the working class citizens because the resultant hyper inflation will affect the value of their wages. He depreciated the value of the naira to almost N2000 to a dollar, without consulting the workers, which effectively reduced the value of their N30,000 minimum wage from about $60 which the regime inherited, when about N500 was equivalent to $1, to about $15 when this regime incompetently and unilaterally depreciated naira from N500 to almost about N2,000 to a $1. Today’s worth of $60 at the price of N2,000 to $1 will be equal to N120,000. Even if the government insists that they do not have enough money to increase the national minimum wage for workers but will pay them the equivalent of what they were earning when it got into office, the least amount it will offer to pay to the labour union is N120,000.

It’s only on the issues that concern the welfare of the people that this government becomes an apostle of consultation and participation. The change in the national anthem lasted less than one week, while the issue of negotiating a new minimum wage is lasting more than one year. This is a classical definition of a government that is anti people. All the decisions so unilaterally made had already hit the rocks because the regime is back to paying subsidies deceptively, naira is dancing breakdance of rise and fall everyday in the hands of this visionless government, which is deploying every policy to use borrowed funds to shore up the value of naira.

There has never been any concession this government made to the people that was made voluntarily. The people had to fight to compel the government, whether on the issue of cyber security levy, expatriate employment levy, high electricity tariff, etc. After one year of negotiation of the new national minimum wage and with the government exhausting all its tricks of delay and deferment, labour unions set a deadline. As usual, this government called the bluff of labour and rather than getting into the negotiation in good faith, this government decided to indulge in unfruitful craft of politicisation of a welfare issue with workers. To underscore its insincerity, it made the first proposal to pay about N48,000 as new minimum wage in a country where it takes more than N50,000 to fill up the fuel tank of an average suv vehicle.

This is notwithstanding the fact that when labour issued the first ultimatum after 29th May, 2023, when oil subsidy was fully removed, that this government granted a wage award of N35,000 on top of the N30,000 national minimum wage. This meant that the least amount earned by the least federal government worker was N65,000. It’s then preposterous for the same government to offer N48,000 as national minimum wage, an amount quite smaller than what it was already paying. The government ended its negotiation at N60,000 and stopped, even with the looming expiration of the deadline. Labour unions started with N615,000 minimum wage which they themselves repeatedly said was not cast in stone. Seeing the crawling nature of the ascent of the government in its addition to the minimum wage, labour decided to also crawl down to N415,000.

It’s not right to say that this amount is unrealistic. Is it realistic that bag of rice that was about N19,000 when this government came in, is now about N80,000.00; that the price of fuel immediately jumped from N195.00 to almost N700.00 from the inception of this regime; that electricity tariff, among many others, has illegally increased by 300%; that naira was depreciated by 400%, going down from about N500.00 when this government came in, to about almost N2,000.00 at a certain time; that this government’s first budget provided for N6b for car parks for the members of the National Assembly to enable them park the imported N165m prado jeep which this government bought for each one of 469 of them, budgeted the sum of N15b to build a house for the Vice-President and N20b to build the house of the Chief of Staff to the President, and billions to the unelected first lady, notwithstanding that these men were already living in comfortable houses while many Nigerians are rendered homeless because of poverty; that this government awarded one contract to construct a coastal road at N15.6 trillion to its friend; that since inception, this government has borrowed about $17.5b within a year to feed its profligacy, yet the minimum wage is still N30,000.

A better submission should have been that N497,000 is unaffordable, but it’s not unrealistic, checking the reasons that labour unions gave for their suggestion. A family of six catering for the food, clothing, shelter, education, health, etc, everyday for its members. If you make provision for feeding them with $1 per day, this will amount to six dollars per day and $180 per month which is about N288,000 on feeding alone.
Add clothing, shelter, housing, education, health etc., it will give you an amount more than what they are asking for. The total neglect of labour unions and the condescending manner government treated the issue of deadline, invoked the highest level of resistance in the protest of the labour unions which led to the greatest shut down in the economy since independence including the shut down of the national grid and airports.
This was only when the government woke up from the slumber and decided to promise that it will shift from the N60,000 promised. Must a government wait for the shutdown of its country before doing the right thing?

Labour unions should reach a compromise with the government on this new minimum wage. The unions must recognise that there are three different entities with three different capacities to pay – the federal government, state government, and the private sector.
The problems that led to all these disequilibrium were caused by the federal government, and they have the highest capacity to pay. Labour has the right to insist on any amount above N120,000. The state government, with increased revenue, should think seriously about paying amounts up to N100,000.
The local government should consider amount up to N70,000, while the private sector should ponder on an amount not less than N65,000. I do not think that most private sectors can afford to pay more than N65,000 to their security guards or domestic staff, because the private sector is also a victim of the incompetent leadership of this administration.
These different minimums should be negotiated at the same time to avoid this federal government hiding under the incapacity of the private sector to pay more than N65,000 to pay lesser amount to workers. There’s no law that forbids paying more than the minimum wage, it forbids paying less.

The most disgusting aspect of this negotiation is the disingenuous attempt by some of the truth-challenged presidential media aides, like Bayo Onanuga, to inject political motives into a genuine quest for a living wage for workers.
It’s disheartening to realise that he must have some of his own relatives who will benefit from a living wage after labour unions succeed in their fight for a long overdue pay raise for workers. When one remembers how this same Onanuga brought down the Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, by labelling him the “face of a liar”, because he lied about his University of Toronto certificate and his age, and compares how the same Onanuga now serves a man who has no primary, or secondary school mates, and whose claimed University of Chicago certificate has been disowned by the University, dubbing it an INEC Certificate, one understands that Onanuga has chosen to be the signboard of a liar.
He lied that MAERSK Shipping Company has pledged to invest $600m in Nigeria, and quickly deleted it when he couldn’t deceive Nigerians with this lie.

Onanuga lied again when he said, concerning the ongoing negotiations between the labour unions and his government on the issue of minimum wage, that “It appears labour is playing politics by other means. Many of the affiliates of the two central unions, NLC and TUC are members and supporters of the Labour Party. They logically bear ill-will and grudges against the Tinubu administration.” Maybe this signboard of a liar forgot that some state chapters of the NLC and TUC supported Tinubu during the 2023 presidential election.
Maybe he forgot that no Nigerian worker is with his incompetent government on the issue of further pauperizing the Nigerian worker by paying them a non-living wage. What has politics to do with the welfare of workers? Onanuga should advise his government to revert back to the old fuel price they met, the old naira valve they met, the old price of rice they met and so on, and we will be the first to pressure labour to stick to the N30,000 minimum wage.
It’s despicable to be playing politics with the lives and welfare of Nigerian workers by deceitful human beings like Onanuga. If he doesn’t know what to say, he can at least keep quiet and stop exposing his ignorance and mischief.