FG to Workers: New Minimum Wage Coming Next Year

The Federal Government has assured workers that a new minimum wage would come into effect in 2024.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, who disclosed this at the end-of-year world press conference in Abuja, yesterday, said government was working with organised labour leaders on the proposed new minimum wage.

He, however, did not disclose how much the new minimum wage would be.

But Benson Upah spokesman of the NLC denied knowledge of talks with organized Labour.

“We are finalising the process for payment of a Cash Transfer of N25,000 monthly to 15 million of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria, for three months (which has already started).

“The Federal Government is also working on a new minimum wage for workers, which will come into effect next year”, the minister said.

He added that the government had also finalised plans for a single digit interest rate for manufacturing firms across the country, worth N75 billion, while implementation of the proposed student loan scheme would take off in 2024.

“By January 2024, we will be rolling out the new federal student loan programmr that was announced a few months ago. A presidential directive has been given for the release of 200,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to moderate prices, and 225,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser, seedlings and other inputs to farmers.

“Also, an access-to-credit programme for startups and MSMEs, providing N50 billion in Conditional Grants to 1 million nano-businesses across Nigeria between now and March 2024, and a new single-digit interest-rate fund to provide N75 billion to support manufacturing enterprises, among others.

“We have launched the 3MTT programme that aims to develop three million technical talents by 2025, in line with the President’s vision for making Nigeria a global hub for digital jobs.

“Still in line with the jobs agenda, we launched the National Talent Export Programme, to create one million service-export jobs over the next five years, and make Nigeria a global business outsourcing hub”, he said.

The minister disclosed that the launch of the National Philanthropy Office (NPO) would mobilise $200 million in private investments on behalf of the federal government, to support MSMEs in Nigeria.

Idris added that the launch of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, with Sterling Bank would establish a five-billion single-digit-interest fund.

“As we stand at the threshold of a new year, the reforms initiated by President Bola Tinubu, across the various sectors of our economy are sowing the seeds of transformative change, and as we enter 2024, we can anticipate the fruits of these efforts beginning to blossom. These reforms are not instantaneous miracles, but deliberate steps towards building a stronger and a more prosperous Nigeria.

“In the economic realm, initiatives aimed at creating jobs, attracting investments, and fostering sustainable growth are taking root. As we move forward, we can expect to witness the tangible outcomes of these efforts, with increased economic opportunities, improved infrastructure, and a business environment conducive to innovation and prosperity,” the minister declared.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has refuted claims that it was in talks with the Federal Government over the implementation of a new minimum wage.

Spokesperson of the NLC, Mr Benson Upah, told the Daily Sun in a phone chat that, though the government had indicated interest to work with the labour centre on the issue, discussions were yet to begin.

He noted that statutorily, the minimum wage has a four-year circle after which it is supposed to be reviewed.

“The government has signified interest to work with us, but that work is yet to start; certainly not later than early next year. It is a statutory thing with a four-year cycle based on participatory stakeholders’ consultations, including labour, government and employers.”

On how much the union intends to negotiate for workers as new minimum wage, Upah said: “We would not jump the gun. That will not be fair. Nonetheless, the facts are very much in the open – inflation rate, exchange rate, cost of living; the entire basket will influence demands and possibly, outcomes.”

Efforts to get the side of the TUC failed as its General Secretary, Mr Nuhu Toro, responded with a message, saying, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now,” when Daily Sun tried to get his response to the matter.

The TUC President, Festus Osifo, did not pick his call, while the number of the Deputy President, Tommy Okon, was unreachable. (Daily Sun)