Nigeria: President Tinubu offers wage rise to workers as labour strike looms

President Bola Tinubu

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has offered a temporary wage increase for government workers, a three-month income subsidy for 15 million poor households and a pause in a value-added tax on diesel as the government sought to prevent an indefinite strike in two days.

The president made the announcement on Sunday, October 1, 2023, to mark Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day celebration.

But after meeting with the government on Sunday, unions will on Monday take the proposals to their affiliates, who will decide whether to press on with the strike or suspend it, Joe Ajaero, president of the largest labour federation, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), told reporters.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said government workers would receive an additional 25,000 naira ($32) a month for the next six months, a smaller raise than the 200,000 naira that unions demanded. Tinubu said this was necessary to avoid pushing up double-digit inflation.

That would mean the lowest-paid government worker in Nigeria will now earn 55,000 naira a month, up from 30,000 naira.

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Poor households would also receive 25,000 naira a month for three months and a value-added tax on diesel will be paused for the same period, the president said.

The government also announced that mass transit buses would begin running on compressed natural gas.

Reuters reports that at his inauguration in May, the president scrapped a decades-old fuel subsidy and ended foreign exchange restrictions, which has led to soaring cost of living, angering unions.

In a national broadcast earlier on Sunday marking 63 years of independence, Tinubu defended the reforms as necessary to put Africa’s biggest economy on the path to recovery.

“I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future,” said Tinubu.