A rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is suggesting how the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari can fund the proposed national new minimum wage of 65,000 Naira. 

The group believes it is achievable. 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had demanded for 65,000 Naira as minimum wage, but economists are sceptical about the ability of the government to meet the demand at a period that states are battling to pay the current 18, 000 Naira minimum wage.

Despite this skepticism and realities on ground, SERAP wants President Buhari to “intensify his government's crackdown on corrupt money and recovery of other illicit wealth by public officials and institutions to fund the proposed N65,000 national minimum wage by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), if he is to fulfill the needs of ordinary Nigerians who continue to struggle to make ends meet, and whom he has called his ‘constituency’".

Following the delay in negotiations for a new minimum wage, the NLC had previously directed workers to proceed on a nationwide warning strike.

Buhari had in November 2017, inaugurated a tripartite committee to negotiate a new national minimum wage for the country, assuring workers that the committee, which began sitting in March 2018, would conclude its work by the end of September.

But the committee has yet to finalise its work despite promises by the government.

SERAP's suggestion was contained in a statement on Sunday by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale.

He said: "The minimum wage of 18,000 Naira for Nigerian workers stands in sharp contrast with outrageous and sometimes illegal salaries and allowances of high-ranking public officials who continue to enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity.

"Paid so little, already vulnerable Nigerian workers are left in a precarious situation, unable to ensure a decent standard of living for themselves and their families, with access to water, health, and education seriously undermined".

The organisation in the statement said, “paying workers 18,000 Naira minimum wage is tantamount to labour exploitation and ‘normalisation of poverty’, and if urgent action is not taken to reverse it, will continue to drive Nigeria’s poorest families deeper into poverty.

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"Having an exploited labour force will also exacerbate incidents of bribery and petty corruption and undermine access of marginalised sector of the population to essential public services such as water, health and education".

According to the organisation, “as the government marks Nigeria’s 58th Independence Day, now is the time for it to choose between spending billions of Naira to fund the lavish lifestyles of billionaire politicians or lifting millions of Nigerian workers out of poverty by ensuring that the national minimum wage is set at a level sufficient to provide all workers and their families with a decent standard of living".

SERAP then urged the Nigerian government to move swiftly to end the strike by reaching an agreement with the NLC on the proposed national minimum wage, and pushing for the harmonisation of this across many states of the federation. 

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