Presidential Aide Onanuga Attributes South Africa’s Higher Minimum Wage to Nigeria’s Greater Poverty

Bayo Onanuga, a media aide to Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, has candidly expressed concerns over Nigeria’s economic status, emphasizing the stark disparity between the country’s national minimum wage and that of South Africa. In a revealing interview with ARISE TV, Onanuga depicted Nigeria as “a very, very poor country,” challenging the widespread perception of Nigeria’s wealth as exaggerated.

“Nigeria is a poor nation with exaggerated wealth,” Onanuga remarked, pointing out the significant gap in minimum wage levels when compared to South Africa. “South Africa’s minimum wage is about $240 per month, whereas Nigeria’s N33,000 minimum wage equates to just about $39. Look at the gap. And you can see this reflects in other wages,” he added, shedding light on the economic disparities that underline the so-called giant of Africa’s struggle with abject poverty.

The statement from the presidential spokesman comes at a time when the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has publicly criticized President Tinubu for what it perceives as a disregard for workers’ welfare. The criticism aligns with the broader context of the NLC’s demands for a minimum wage review, amidst rising inflation and the diminishing value of the naira, which have collectively eroded workers’ purchasing power.

In a further escalation of tensions, the NLC, along with the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, has issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Tinubu administration. This drastic step underscores the unions’ frustration over the government’s failure to implement a 16-point agreement reached with organized labour on October 2, 2023. The agreement, which was supposed to address various labour concerns following the controversial removal of the fuel subsidy, has yet to be actioned, leading to increased hardship for workers and citizens alike.

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