The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday, 17th February “directed all states where the national minimum wage of N30,000 is yet to be paid to immediately proceed on industrial action.” The NEC viewed “the refusal to pay the new national minimum wage by state governments… as an act of criminality, betrayal of the oath of office sworn by state chief executives and a dangerous adventure in anarchy.” The states involved include Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Osun, Rivers, Zamfara and eight others.

Some people claim that the trade unions in general and the NLC in particular have become a toothless guard dog. But remember, the NLC represents millions of workers. Each local government has teachers, nurses and other workers. Most of these workers are members of the NLC. If we can persuade their leaders to lead a fight then together they can be the most powerful weapon in the land.

The increase of the minimum wage to N30,000 became law in April 2019, so half the states have been operating illegally for nearly two years. Why have the police not been arresting the governors of these states rather than extorting the public at their road blocks or arresting people who are exercising their Constitutional right to protest at Lekki Toll Gates and other places?

The states claim that they cannot afford to pay the minimum wage – as the bosses always do. But as usual this is just not true and they always have enough money to pay for the Governor and the House of Assembly! During 2020 the states received 93% of the amount for the previous year, despite Covid-19, and now they are getting even more. This year the monthly FAAC allocations to the states have been higher each month and this trend is expected to continue as the international price of crude oil is now back to its pre-Covid levels. The price is now over $60 a barrel or over 50% higher than the bench-mark price included in the 2021 Federal budget of only $40.

It is workers that cannot afford to do without the full minimum wage. Prices have increased massively since the minimum wage was last increased in 2011. It should have been increased every five years – unlike electricity prices that are reviewed twice a year. The official inflation rate indicates that on average prices are now three times higher than they were a decade ago. That is why all workers need a minimum wage of at least N30,000 with another large increase this year. This would still only enable them to buy the same amount of food as they used to be able to afford a decade ago.

Despite having the money to pay, many states will not pay up without a fight. We will need to push many NLC state secretariats to organise the necessary action. All socialists should be arguing for their trade union branches to demand action now and sending delegations to their NLC state offices to support the call for strike action. We need to take delegations from our work places to talk to the local officials of the NLC to demand that they lead and mobilise proper strike action and call on public support.

We also need to know what is happening in each state. Send news and photographs of developments and protests to our WhatsApp group or to

Send solidarity messages to the NLC – email: or call 09-627 6042 and to the NLC offices in your state.


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