As election nears, Nigeria recommends 50 pct minimum wage rise

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Nigeria’s government is recommending a 50 percent rise in the minimum wage weeks before a presidential election where the cost of living has become a major issue.

Labour Minister Chris Ngige said the government would send a bill to parliament proposing an increase in the minimum monthly salary to 27,000 naira ($88) from 18,000 now.

Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation relies on crude sales for around two-thirds of government revenue, but lower prices pushed it into recession in 2016.

Though it emerged from the downturn in early 2017, growth remains weak and inflation hit a seven-month high of 11.44 percent in December.

Unions went on strike last year over the minimum wage, initially demanding a rise to 50,000 naira a month.

President Muhammadu Buhari, whose bid for re-election on Feb. 16 faces a strong challenge from main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar, said in January he would increase the minimum wage but had not specified by how much.

“The National Council of State has approved a minimum wage of 27,000 monthly. A bill to this effect is to be forwarded to the National Assembly,” Ngige told reporters in Abuja.

Some government workers could receive a higher salary of 30,000 naira a month, the labour minister added.

He did not say when the bill would be sent to lawmakers.