Why gubernatorial efforts to slash civil servants N18,000 minimum wage are a problem

Mr. Ayuba Wada, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), released a statement on Sunday to convey the union’s contention the country’s 36 state governors decision to slash the N18,000 minimum wage which is the financial obligation of the government to civil servants. According to the union, they are shocked at the decision of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum and have mentioned that any attempt to go through with it would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

The governors announced their resolution at a meeting in Aso Rock, on the 19th of November. On behalf of the governors, Chairman Abdulaziz Yari, the governor of Zamfara State, disclosed that they were seeking new ways to cut overhead costs and enhance revenue generation. As a result of this, they emphasized that the salary obligation in the country can no longer be maintained. According to them, the fall in oil prices and struggling state economies led to their decision.

Although labour leaders Nigeria’s economic plight, they stand firm that slashing the minimum wage, which was implemented in 2011, is unacceptable.

This year alone, the NLC requested that the government increase the minimum wage to N46,000 and N50,000 in July and August respectively, citing that the cost of living, amongst other responsibilities, had increased. Additionally, they posited that the government simply needed to manage and appropriate its resources properly, as well as attend to corruption, in order to rectify the situation.

In Nigeria today, N18,000 can probably take the average citizen through a week, if conscious with spending. This does not include expenses from bills, or familial responsibility. But in reality, most people spend that amount on a regular basis, given the expensive nature of the Nigerian economy. Numbeo provides data on the cost of living in Nigeria by presenting figures for day-to-day and monthly living necessities. According to the analysis, a Nigerian earning an average of N118.987.43 will still find it difficult to afford a decent lifestyle. Furtermore- the N18,000 the salary in question is N1,800 less than what Youth Corps members in the country receive as their monthly allowance.

According to President Buhari, the fall in oil prices will not necessarily result in suffering for the country, despite its economic impact. Speaking with company executives in India, Buhari stated that if the government maintained a commitment to implement tight expenditure, fiscal and monetary policies, as well as tackle corruption, the economy will become stable again. In July, he granted all 36 states bailout funds and ordered them to pay all outstanding salaries in September.

However, not all the Nigerian governors are on board with the decision of the forum, as Ekiti and Oyo State governors have openly condemned their decision, calling it callous, and refusing to adhere. According to Governor Fayose, the minimum wage is presently “grossly inadequate” and a further reduction will spell disaster for civil servants and their families.

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