For a country that still has its minimum wage at ₦30k in 2023, many 9-5ers in Nigeria must be used to their salaries not matching the level of work they put in at their job.

But how does it feel to realise you’re earning far less than your colleagues in the same workplace, and how do you handle it? These young professionals share their experiences.

“I threatened to leave… and they fixed up”

— Funmi*, 24, Content marketer

In 2022, a recruitment agency hired me as a content marketing intern with a ₦40k salary. It was low, but I figured I was just an intern and wouldn’t do much. I was wrong. It turned out the content marketer I was supposed to intern with had already put in his notice. So two weeks after I resumed, I worked as the content marketer while I was still an intern on paper.

I handled email marketing, social media management, video production, script writing and even helped recruit for the different companies we serviced. I did all that for four months without complaining because I was “going above and beyond”. But I somehow stumbled on the former content marketer’s payslip one day and saw that they paid him ₦90k. More than double my salary, and I was doing even more work than he did.

I emailed the MD explaining that I wasn’t being compensated enough (they didn’t know I saw the payslip) and said I’d like to put in a two-month notice. They called me immediately, and we talked through it. They increased my salary to ₦95k and officially updated my title to content marketer.

“I asked for a raise and never got it”

Jonah*, 29, Lawyer

My first job was with this legal firm in 2015, and my salary was ₦50k. The work was crazy. I worked all week, including Saturdays. I also had to go to court almost on a daily basis and provide legal drafts. On top of that, they always delayed salary by at least two weeks.

During one of those salary delays, I was complaining about it to a colleague, and she went, “They’ll still hold someone’s money on top of the ₦70k they’re paying”. I was confused and asked more questions about the salary. This colleague and I were hired on the same day, yet they were paying her ₦20k more.

I spoke to my bosses and noted that I was the lowest-paid lawyer there, without mentioning where I got the information. They promised to give me a raise after three months, but it never happened till I left them two years later.

“I just looked for another job”

— Regina*, 23, Social media manager

I got a job managing the three social media accounts of a lifestyle coach in 2021, and my salary was ₦60k. She paid for my internet subscription, but I almost always had to buy more data to supplement it. She was aware of this but didn’t increase the data allowance.

During an appraisal call six months into working with her, she mentioned that she was actually willing to pay me ₦100k when she first hired me, but I didn’t “defend my value”. She expected me to take it as a lesson to always negotiate my salary and not just accept the first amount the recruiter offers. It was funny because this same woman refused to add ₦10k for a higher data plan. I just took her advice and looked for another job.


The Nigerian Millennial’s Guide to Earning What You Deserve

“I’ve stopped overdoing”

— Omolade, 25, Business analyst

I got my current job in 2022, and I was so excited about the salary (it’s double my previous salary) that I didn’t even think about negotiating. 

A couple of months back, I realised I could’ve gotten more. The budget for the role was three times what I was offered. I guess it’s not their fault I didn’t ask for more, but I can now see why the budget was so high. The workload is a lot, and when I first got in, I was working round the clock. Now, I’ve stopped overdoing. If I’m unable to complete a task, I move it to the next day. But I don’t know if I’ll bring up the possibility of a salary review anytime soon because they use “outstanding performance” as a yardstick for salary increases.

“There was nothing I could do”

— Idowu, 27, Writer

I worked with a book publisher for about six months in 2019, and I only got paid twice during that time.

I did a whole lot for the ₦50k that was supposed to be my monthly salary. I was a ghostwriter, editor and ebook designer for about four authors. The editor-in-chief kept blaming the unpaid salaries on delayed client payments. When they missed payments the fourth time, I decided to start working from home because I could no longer afford the transport fare. That was when I found out my colleague was making ₦10k extra, even though we were doing the same thing. There was nothing I could do, so I just kept working from home. 

They eventually laid us off, citing financial challenges. They promised to pay their debt when they got money. I’m still waiting.

“I’m hoping for a raise”

— Yinka*, 26, Executive assistant

My official job description says “executive assistant,” but in reality, I’m a content creator, social media manager, customer service agent, travel agent, email marketer, photographer and whatever else my CEO decides he wants me to do.

I got this job three years ago, and my salary is still the same: ₦80k. It’s nothing compared to how much money this company makes. My boss goes on holiday every market day, yet I only earn ₦20k more than the office cleaner. I’ve suggested a raise to my boss, and I’m hoping it comes soon. I’m also on the lookout for better opportunities, but I haven’t seen any yet.

*Some names have been changed to protect their identity.

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