Nigerian workers have claimed that their living conditions were better under the previous minimum wage regime, despite the increase in the minimum wage in 2019. The current minimum wage of N30,000 is worth less than the N18,000 paid to the least-paid Nigerian workers from 2011 to 2018, according to reports. Workers have noted that the inflation rate was between 8% and 18% during that period, with single-digit inflation from 2013 to 2015.
This stands in contrast to the current consumer price index, which has risen to more than 20% in the past 18 months. The minimum wage was raised when the monthly composite CPI level was 274.6 points in December 2018. However, in the last month, it rose by 90% to 552.4 points, suggesting that Nigerians are spending almost twice as much on general consumption. The price level for food, which accounts for more than half of the CPI basket, has increased by 110%, from 296.4 points to 626.7 points.
According to analysts, the country’s year-on-year changes in prices are over 50%, and some essential items have doubled in price in the past year.
The inflation rate has been compounded by other issues such as the devaluation of the naira, low wages, widespread insecurity, rising living costs, a struggling education sector, a failing healthcare sector, a high unemployment rate, and the “Japa” syndrome, which refers to the emigration of young Nigerians to other countries.
Workers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the current administration and are calling for a reduction in their burden, particularly on May Day. However, they do not expect any real change, as the current president’s term is coming to an end, and the incoming president is yet to take office.
Many workers have bemoaned the fact that their monthly take-home pay has been eroded, making it difficult to afford essential goods and services. The high cost of living has forced some people to borrow money before their next salary arrives. According to Moses Adeleye, life has been tough for workers, and he was happier receiving N18,000 in 2011 than he is now with the N30,000 minimum wage.
Adeleye’s sentiment was shared by Joy Eluma, a level nine civil servant and mother of four, who claimed that her salary was spent on food items before the end of the first or second week of the month.