The federal government last night approved a pay rise of between 25 and 35 per cent for civil servants across various consolidated salary structures.

The announcement was made on the eve of May Day, or Labour Day, which is celebrated worldwide to recognise and honour the achievements and contributions of the working class.

The announcement came ahead of the submission of the report of the 37-member tripartite committee on national minimum wage, led by Bukar Goni Aji, a former Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HoCS), which was inaugurated in January this year.

A statement signed by the Head of Press, National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Emmanuel Njoku, said the increases took effect from January 1, 2024.


But the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said the announcement was “a waste of time.”

In an interview with Daily Trust last night, the NLC Assistant General Secretary, Chris Onyeka, said the commission does not have powers to fix national minimum wage.

“What they pretend to have done is a waste of time. It does not amount to anything for us and those in the federal civil service,” Onyeka told one of our correspondents.

He did not make further comments on the matter despite prodding by our reporter. Other senior officials of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) could not be reached up to press time last night.

Njoku’s statement said that the augmentation applies to the six remaining consolidated salary structures, namely the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure (CONPSS), Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Structure (CONRAISS), Consolidated Police Salary Structure (CONPOSS), Consolidated Paramilitary Salary Structure (CONPASS), Consolidated Intelligence Community Salary Structure (CONICCS), and Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure (CONAFSS).

It added that the federal government had also approved pension increases ranging from 20% to 28% for pensioners enrolled in the Defined Benefits Scheme within the aforementioned consolidated salary structures, with the same effective date.

Before the latest development, salary increases were implemented for tertiary education and health, among them the Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS), Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure (CONTISS), Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Salary Structure (CONPCASS), Consolidated Tertiary Educational Institutions Salary Structure (CONTEDISS), Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), and Consolidated Health Sector Salary Structure (CONHESS).

When contacted to shed more light on the statement he issued hours to the May Day, Njoku told Daily Trust that there was no wrong time for workers to benefit from government policies.

He also confirmed that the government would pay the arrears of the backlogs from January.

Njoku added that the increment was different from the multi-stakeholders committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume.

However, some senior government functionaries and security officials, who spoke in confidence, told Daily Trust that the announcement by NSIWC was to avert an impending embarrassment.

One of them said that the government was aware of alleged plans by the organised labour to use today’s event to call out political leaders.

One of the sources said that government officials and security agencies could not locate union leaders for dialogue to prevent likely violent protests, as they were either in hiding or deliberately avoided contacts yesterday.

Another source said that a meeting of the organised labour with SGF Akume and leadership of security agencies ended on Friday without a tangible outcome.

Earlier Tuesday, some workers who spoke to correspondents in some states, called on the Bola Tinubu-led federal government to approve a living wage that will make life better for workers.

The workers, who said this is necessary considering the rising cost of living in the country, added that it is now about living wage and not minimum wage.

They said it has been a tumultuous journey for them in Nigeria, considering the rising cost of living after the removal of fuel subsidy among other measures.

Many civil servants said their take home pay is not in tune with the reality because they struggle to survive and rarely meet up with the demands of their families.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2019 assented to the N30, 000 minimum wage bill, which ushered in a new pay structure for workers. While the policy is being implemented at the national level, many states are yet to key into the policy.

In Lagos, the Chairperson of the NLC, Comrade Funmi Sessi saidt that it would be a disappointment if there was no announcement from the government.

“We are all anxious about the living wage,” she said, adding: “Our major demand is the living wage. We know it would be a very difficult thing because the tripartite committee has not concluded work on it but it would be a disappointment for workers if by tomorrow (today) there is no announcement of a new minimum wage.

“You can see that there is no free movement of vehicles anywhere because there is no petrol. So, if this continues tomorrow, I don’t know how our members will go and celebrate the Workers’ Day.”

Speaking to one of our correspondents in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, the leadership of the NLC in the state said failure to implement minimum wage will meet workers’ anger, stressing that Nigerians had been expecting the tripartite committee to have concluded their job before May 1.

Chairman of the NLC in Yobe State, Comrade Muktari Musa Tarbutu, said:  “We are expecting to hear something from both federal and state governments, but if he (the president) didn’t talk about the new minimum wage, we would wait for the response of the national body.”

In Oyo State, the NLC Chairman, Comrade Kayode Martins, criticised the government over its “habitual dishonouring of agreements” with workers. “Every time we have agreements, they never honour it”, he said.

In Ondo, the leadership of the NLC and TUC entered into a meeting yesterday to push for better wages for the state’s workforce.

In Delta, a labour activist, Ambassador Edewor Egedegbe said that Nigerian workers are becoming more miserable by the day.

Egedegbe, a member of the Civil Society Leaders on Social Protection and Sustainable Development, said it was pertinent for those in positions of authority to look inwards.

In Bauchi, the Comrade Dauda Shuaibu-led NLC called on Governor Bala Mohammed to sustain the N10,000 wage award.

Comrade Kabiru Inuwa, who is the NLC chairman in Kano, called on the committee set up by the federal government to be steadfast in their work for the benefit of all.

In Kwara State, the Acting Chairman of TUC, Comrade Tunde Joseph, wondered why it was difficult for the federal government to make the new national wage a reality when it was not difficult to announce subsidy withdrawal on fuel.

On his part, the Benue State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Terungwa Igbe, said they would be demanding the full implementation of the N35,000 wage award and salary arrears from the government.


States await Tinubu’s decision

Findings by Daily Trust showed that many state governors are waiting for the federal government to conclude its move on the new minimum wage so that they would follow suit.

Currently, only the Edo State government has announced N70,000 as minimum wage.

The Chairman of the NLC in Borno State, Comrade Yusuf Inuwa, said the implementation of the new minimum wage in the state depends on the federal government.

Inuwa said Governor Babagana Zulum had assured them that he would pay the minimum wage once the federal government takes a decision on the issue.

C’ttee yet to submit report

It was gathered last night that the tripartite committee inaugurated recently has yet to conclude its deliberations on the matter.

Earlier, at a pre-May Day briefing, the President of TUC, Festus Osifo, had said that the much-awaited new minimum wage might not be announced today (May 1).

“The negotiation by the Tripartite Committee is still ongoing. If you remember, the TUC earlier submitted N447,000 as the new minimum wage but we have harmonised our figure with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

“It is now N615,000. Regarding the new minimum wage, the committee is still working. So, certainly, May 1 will not work for the pronouncement of the new minimum wage, except if the federal government wants to pay the minimum wage of N500,000 to workers,” he said.

Worst time for workers, says Atiku

Meanwhile, former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, alleged that no government in the history of the country had trampled upon the rights of workers like the present administration.

Atiku, in a statement to commemorate the International Workers’ Day, described present development as “Sobering truth that the plight of the Nigerian worker remains dire.”

The PDP chieftain noted that despite pledges by the government, “The much talked-about prospects of wage increment for the Nigerian worker remains a mirage. Every dawn unveils renewed hardships and harsh living conditions.”

He said even though the government said the “Petrol subsidy is purportedly gone; yet its impact lingers – revealing the ineptitude of the current federal government.”

Atiku said, “Since the days of legend Pa Michael Imoudu, to later day fire brands such as Pascal Bafyau and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the Nigerian worker has been at the forefront of the fight against tyranny and bad governance.

“No administration in our history has trampled workers’ rights like this one. Daily, workers face uncertainty over skyrocketing prices of essential goods. The Nigerian worker has had it so rough under this current administration and it is unfortunate that while the living conditions of the Nigerian worker remain at a miserably low ebb, the Nigerian government continues to regale its international audiences with tales of how the masses are being weaned of their wasteful dependence on government”, he said.