Nigerian Presidency Warns Against Massive Wage Hike, Citing Severe Economic Risks

The Nigerian Presidency has issued a cautionary statement regarding the demands by organized Labour for a substantial increase in the national minimum wage, warning that such a move could have severe and far-reaching consequences for the country’s economy.

Speaking on Sunday, Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to improving the welfare of Nigerians. However, he emphasized that the current economic conditions in Nigeria do not support Labour’s demands.

Ngelale explained that if Labour’s proposal for a significant wage hike is implemented, it would impact not only the federal civil service but also the entire economy, including small businesses and the informal sector. He warned that a 20-fold increase in wages could result in massive job losses, business closures, and unsustainable price increases for goods and services.

The Presidential aide urged Labour to consider the practical implications of their demands, which could worsen the struggles of Nigerian citizens, including rising school fees and food prices. He stressed that President Tinubu, while empathetic and concerned about the people’s suffering, is also pragmatic and will not allow Labour to push the government into making an unachievable decision.

“President Bola Tinubu would love to see a minimum wage in this country that is even worth N1 million per month for every Nigerian,” Ngelale said. “He believes our people deserve the best. However, the economic realities and fundamentals within the country right now do not support what the organized Labour movement is advocating for.”

He clarified that the minimum wage conversation involves a new national minimum wage for every Nigerian citizen, in both the formal and informal economies. When asked if the President would be willing to compromise, Ngelale reiterated Tinubu’s pragmatic approach, citing his past efforts to support indigent families in Lagos State when he was governor.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have called on their members to begin an indefinite nationwide industrial strike starting Monday, due to the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage’s failure to reach an agreement. Despite President Tinubu’s empathy and commitment to improving Nigerians’ welfare, Ngelale stressed that any wage increase must be sustainable to avoid mass retrenchments and economic instability.

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