Nigeria President Buhari to Review Proposed New Minimum Wage

(Bloomberg) -- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will review a proposal to increase the minimum wage by 66 percent before making final recommendations to lawmakers for approval, the presidency said.

A committee of government representatives, employers and labor union leaders agreed on a new minimum monthly wage of 30,000 naira ($83) early this week to head off a looming strike threat by workers.

“As the executive arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you in closing any open areas presented,” Buhari said in a statement emailed by his office. “I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future.”

The current minimum wage of 18,000 naira was approved in 2010. Labor unions that had previously argued for a review chose an election season, with a presidential vote due in February, to make more forceful demands. Buhari, who is seeking a second four-year term, pledged to send a bill for approval by lawmakers for passage “within the shortest possible time.”

Buhari, 75, never mentioned any amount as the new minimum wage, Femi Adesina, his spokesman, said Thursday in an emailed statement.

“What he committed himself to was a new minimum wage, and only after the report of the committee has been reviewed by the executive and legislative processes of government and an appropriate bill presented to him for assent,” Adesina said.

The president risks trouble if the deal isn’t approved, according to Cheta Nwanze, head of research at Lagos-based risk advisory SBM Intelligence.

“If he rejects it, the unions will mobilize against him and possibly cost him a lot of votes,” Nwanze said by phone Thursday. “However if he accepts it, he kicks the can down the road and creates a long-term problem because the country’s finances are not in a position to bear a 66 percent increase across the board.”

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