On April 18th 2019, President Buhari did the damn thing and signed the 30 000 minimum wage bill into law. Nevermind that this bill is coming in 3 years too late from the earmarked review period of 2016; we have a new minimum wage — glory to the highest.
To understand what all the fuss is about, let’s have a little understanding of what constitutes a minimum wage.
The Minimum wage.
The minimum wage is the lowest remuneration an employer can pay workers, as permitted by the laws of the land.
Ideally, what this means is, every working citizen of the state, while encouraged to receive a monthly income above the stated wage, should not, by law — have a take-home salary less than the minimum wage.
As seen with Nigeria’s recent feat, It becomes necessary to review a minimum wage, as the cost of living and inflation are put into consideration. Nigeria’s minimum wage review period is every five years.
Now, while Nigerians everywhere are lauding the president on the feat of a 30,000 minimum wage, which, can we just add translates to about 1000 a day, here are a few truths you’re going to have to keep at the back of your mind.
Sorry private sector workers, this kind of doesn’t apply to you.
It’s not you, it’s the government. Despite the minimum wage experiencing exponential leaps since the very first wage fix of 125 in 1981, to ₦250 in 1989, then ₦3000 and subsequent rises, the private sector has somehow always been excluded from the wage increase narrative.
This is due to the failure of the government to impose sanctions on private businesses that fail to comply with the wage limits.
It doesn’t matter that only private sector businesses with less than 50 employees and those employed on a part-time basis being exempt from wage requirements, as stipulated by the Minimum National Wage Act of 1999, the majority of private sector workers will remain at the mercy of their employers where minimum wage comes in, unless stricter measures are put in place to govern monthly pay.
Informal workers, that means you too.
Seeing as the informal sector of Nigeria remains largely unregulated, the same goes for their pay structures.The minimum wage might, by mouth alone apply to working Nigerians, but someone must not have informed the government that bricklayers and plumbers make the cut, because their pay remains largely exempted from this pay rise.
Actually, you might want to check your state before you applaud the new minimum wage.
This is because for states that aren’t Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and maybe Anambra, there has been widely publicised difficulty in meeting the wage requirements.
While 2011 saw the implementation of the ₦18,000 minimum wage, about 27 states have found it consistently difficult to pay the salaries. Last year alone, states like Osun, Oyo and even the National Assembly embarked on strike actions to pay salaries that translated to about ₦600 per day.
How these same states will find resources to shell out ₦30,000 to pay salaries is a mystery we’ll have to watch unfold.
But for the lucky few…
For those in states that will be able to pay out the stated amounts, while you will not be able to live in Yahaya Bello’s mansion, or have a living room big enough to house a car like Dino Melaye, at least you will be fulfilling the president’s wishes of living within your means. Nothing like surviving on 1000 a day, plus tithe, Zakat, feeding, clothing and housing to whittle your needs to the barest minimum.