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Nigeria’s Minimum Wage: A History of Incremental Increases


Jul 2, 2024

Minimum wage policies are crucial for ensuring a basic standard of living for workers.

In Nigeria, the national minimum wage has been a subject of significant debate and numerous adjustments over the years, reflecting economic conditions, inflation, and the cost of living.

As of now, there are ongoing discussions and pressures from labour unions for a further increase in the minimum wage, citing the continued devaluation of the naira and an unprecedented rise in the cost of living due to inflation and economic caused by global economic pressures and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The labour unions argue that the current minimum wage is insufficient to meet the basic needs of Nigerian workers.

The organised labour consisting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have insisted that the Federal Government and State Government must pay  ₦250,000 for workers in the country.

However, state Governors, on their part, rejected the stand of organised labour, pointing out that state governments can not afford the required amount.

Here’s a detailed look at the history of minimum wage increments in Nigeria, including dates and amounts:

1. 1981 –  ₦125 per month

The first official minimum wage in Nigeria was established in 1981, under President Shehu Shagari. The economy was relatively stable, and this wage was deemed acceptable for the living standards of the time.

2. 1991 –  ₦250 per month

A decade later, the minimum wage was revised to  ₦250 per month during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. This increment was part of broader economic reforms aimed at addressing inflation and other economic challenges.

3. 1998 –  ₦3,000 per month

Under General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the minimum wage saw a significant jump to  ₦3,000 per month. This increase was in response to the devaluation of the naira and the general increase in the cost of living over the previous years.

4. 2000 –  ₦5,500 per month

In the democratic era, under President Olusegun Obasanjo, the minimum wage was increased to  ₦5,500 per month in 2000. This was part of a series of policies aimed at improving the welfare of Nigerian workers following decades of military rule.

5. 2004 –  ₦7,500 per month

Continuing the trend of gradual increases, the minimum wage was raised to  ₦7,500 per month in 2004. This increment was still under President Obasanjo’s administration and followed extensive negotiations with labour unions.

6. 2011 –  ₦18,000 per month

After a long period of negotiations and strikes by various labour unions, the minimum wage was increased to  ₦18,000 per month in 2011 under President Goodluck Jonathan. This significant increase was a response to the global economic situation and the rise in domestic inflation.

7. 2019 –  ₦30,000 per month

The most recent adjustment came under President Muhammadu Buhari, who signed a new minimum wage bill into law in April 2019, setting the minimum wage at  ₦30,000 per month. This came after several months of negotiations and was seen as a move to appease workers amidst growing inflation and dissatisfaction with economic policies.

The evolution of the minimum wage in Nigeria reflects the country’s economic challenges and the government’s attempts to balance fiscal capabilities with the need to ensure a livable income for its workers.


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