Nigerian workers have lamented eight years of failed promises of Buhari’s government, saying minimum wage value has diminished.
This is coming ahead of the yearly May Day (Workers’ Day) celebration across many countries in the world. The Workers’ Day is the day that commemorates the struggles and gains made by workers and the labour movement.
Workers in Nigerians who have been faced with hardship occasioned by constant rising inflation lamenting said; “The current N30,000 minimum wage is worth less than N18,000 the least paid Nigerian workers received between 2011 and 2018.”
The public employees say their condition of living was better between 2011 and 2018 when the minimum wage regime was N18,000 than when it was raised by 67 percent to N30,000.
That is not far from the truth. The inflation rate was between eight and 18 percent from 2011 to 2018. For much of the period – 2013 to the end of 2015 – the inflation rate remained at a single-digit rate. With the consumer price index consolidating above 20 percent in the past 18 months, single-digit inflation appears like a mirage.S
When President Buhari assumed office, headline inflation stood at 8.7 percent, with a bag of rice (the most common staple food) selling for about N7,000. Eight years later, inflation has jumped to 22.04 percent, while a bag of rice has hit an all-time high of over N45,000 – over sixfold increase.
At the close of 2018 when the minimum wage was raised, the monthly composite CPI level was 274.6 points. Last month, it climbed by 90 per cent to 552.4 points, suggesting that many Nigerians spent almost twice for general consumption. For food, which accounts for over 50 weighted average of the CPI basket, the price level has shot up by 110 per cent, from 296.4 points in December 2018 to 626.7 points.
As bad as this sounds, the official CPI is believed to have been doctored, hence only providing a ‘peek’ understanding of the cost of living crisis. Independent analysts suggest the country’s year-on-year changes in prices are over 50 percent. Some of the essential items, The survey revealed, have doubled in the past year.
Galloping inflation, devaluation of the naira, low wages, widespread insecurity, the rising cost of living, a near-comatose education sector, a failing healthcare sector, a high unemployment rate, and the ‘Japa’ syndrome have affected a lot of Nigerians since 2015.
Buhari is expected to address workers for the last time as president today and possibly reel out the positive impacts the administration has had on their lives in the past eight years. But to many workers, it will just be rhetoric as the living condition has worsened under his watch.
Today, also, the incoming president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will also felicitate with workers and give hints on how he intends to reduce their burden starting from May 29 when he takes over.
Concurrently, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, and his Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) counterpart, Festus Osifo, are expected to hand in workers’ demands at the Eagle Square in Abuja to mark the 2023 edition of May Day.
Ahead of the commemoration, Osifo, who said workers have not fared well in the present administration, bemoaned the government’s many un-kept promises.
He said the rising inflation has eroded workers’ purchasing power and worsened their standard of living.
“What is the value of the minimum wage today? The exchange rate for CBN is N450 to a dollar, while in the parallel market it is N750. If you do the exchange, you will discover that N30,000 against N750 is less than $50 per month.
“When you compare it to where we were in 2015 when this administration came on board, you will see that literally, the value of the naira has eroded. When you now juxtaposed that with the rate of inflation, it shows glaringly that statistics will always trump government’s rhetoric,” he said.
He hinged the issues of unresolved labour issues on having an ineffective labour Minister that has achieved practically nothing during his tenure.