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Showdown at Aso Rock: Labour insists on N250,000 minimum wage after crucial talks with Tinubu

Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and Festus Osifo, President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), have affirmed that their demand for a minimum wage of N250,000 remains unchanged, even as the Federal Government and the Organised Private Sector have proposed N62,000.

Following a meeting with President Bola Tinubu on Thursday, the labour leaders stated that the discussions were not a negotiation but rather a conversation about the economic challenges facing Nigerians.

“In the real sense, it wasn’t a negotiation but a discussion; and we have had that discussion. We agreed to look at the real terms probably and reconvene in the next one week. So, that’s where we are. Because we didn’t go down there to talk naira and kobo. At least, there were some basic issues that we agreed on,” Ajaero said.

When asked about the N250,000 minimum wage demand, Ajaero responded, “I remember mentioning that we didn’t go into Naira and kobo discussion. Now the status quo in terms of the amount N250,000 and N62,000 remains until we finish this conversation.”

Osifo echoed Ajaero’s sentiments, emphasizing the gravity of the economic situation. “In the meeting, we tried to put the issues on the table. Issues that are bothering and biting Nigerians today, the economic difficulties and the value of naira, how it has also eroded, how these have affected the prices of commodities and goods in the market.”

He added, “We tried to put these before Mr. President because he is the president of the country and the bulk stops at his table. We have had all the conversations with all his agents, but today, we said let us meet with the father of the country and have this conversation and make the argument that Labour always makes, we made all the arguments, the economic analysis, macro, micro, fiscal and monetary issues.”

The labour leaders conveyed that President Tinubu acknowledged their concerns and promised to consult with other stakeholders before finalizing any decisions.

“So, we put everything forward and at the end, the president made his remarks as the president and we all agreed let’s go back, we internalized it, we had some conversation and by one week’s time, we will come back and we will continue the meeting,” Osifo said.

Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, described the meeting as “a fruitful meeting, father, children meeting.”

She expressed optimism that the issues would soon be resolved, stating, “Of course, when father and children talk you know what it is. That’s just exactly what has happened. It took us almost an hour. I believe that it’s all for good.”

President Tinubu had earlier indicated that he needed time to consult with other stakeholders before sending the bill for the new minimum wage to the National Assembly.

The ongoing discussions reflect the critical need to address the economic difficulties facing the nation and the determination of labour leaders to secure a significant wage increase for Nigerian workers.

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