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Poor minimum wage and rising unemployment top agenda as Nigerians commemorate Workers Day

Abuja, Nigeria. May 3rd, 2016 – The 2016 Workers Day was commemorated on the 2nd of May 2016, and declared a public holiday by the Federal government to allow Nigerian workers join their counterparts from all over the world to celebrate the International Workers Day also known as Labour Day.[i] Amidst events to commemorate the day, the leading trade union organisations in the country – the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) – have heightened their call for the Nigerian government to address issues pertaining to the wages and welfare of Nigerian workers. NLC and TUC had on April 27th 20016 proposed a new minimum wage of 56,000 Naira (about $280) up from the current 18,000 Naira ($90), and admonished the government to urgently set up a committee to discuss the proposed new minimum wage.[ii]

Recent figures from NBS put unemployment and underemployment rates at 10.4 percent and 18.7 percent respectively for Q4 2015, representing a steady rise in the level of unemployment from Q4 2014 (6.4 percent) to Q4 2015 (10.4 percent).[iii] Job Creation remains an issue of key concern as it topped the list of issues Nigerians want the government to address, as findings showed from the 2016 New Year Poll conducted by NOIPolls.[iv] NOIPolls, as part of its contribution towards providing relevant data to support decision makers, has in the past conducted public opinion polls on the issue of minimum wage and unemployment. The following present a throwback of those past polls to commemorate the 2016 Labour Day.

Excerpts of Findings from NOIPolls Minimum wage poll:

In 2011 a poll to gauge the opinion of Nigerians on the then recently signed ‘Minimum Wage Act’ intended to pave the way for the implementation of NGN 18,000 minimum wage revealed that the majority of respondents (79 percent) polled at the time thought the minimum wage of less than N20,000 was adequate. There was also 15 percent of respondents who favoured between N21,000 and N30,000; and leaving a meagre 1 percent who had recommended between N41,000 and N50,000 at the time. However, fast-forward 5 years later and the Labour Unions are back to the drawing board, agitating for a new minimum wage of N56,000. With the passing of time, we believe the findings from this poll would be somewhat different if the poll was to be conducted today. NOIPolls would consider conducting a fresh poll on this in the near future.

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Similarly, while unemployment has remained at the front burner in most policy discussions in Nigeria, Labour Unions have also argued that strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector could serve as a panacea to resolving the unemployment crisis in the country. In a recent interview, a Labour leader urged the government to re-invest in all the moribund textile factories and steel rolling mills as a way of kick-starting the nation’s economy back to life. To corroborate this position, trended results from NOIPolls have revealed that Job Creation has ranked amongst the top three key issues Nigerians would like the government to focus its attention on addressing. See chart below.

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Survey Methods

The New Year Special Edition Poll was conducted in the week of 4th January 2016. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. The Minimum Wage Poll was conducted in the week of 3rd August, 2011. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1155 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of these sizes, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise – within a range of approximately plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited is No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at






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