Organised Labour had some hard knocks for the Federal Government on Workers’ Day, an international holiday set aside to celebrate the achievements of workers, which is marked on May 1 every year.

The misgivings this time dwelt upon perceptions of an equitable minimum wage for Nigerian workers, as well as upon just and affordable electricity tariffs. The roll-out of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) driven buses and haulage trucks, sufficient to bring about a significant reduction in food prices and the cost of commuting for the general public also came into the frame.

Labour and Government differed on much of these scores.

However, both the Federal Government and Labour are agreed that the adoption of Compressed Natural Gas-powered vehicles offers a cheaper route to transporting man and material, as against the more expensive petrol and diesel fuels. This is because the price of CNG is approximately 35 percent that of petrol and diesel.

While petrol typically sells for about N620 per litre and diesel, about N1,200 per litre in some government retail outlets, CNG costs N213 per scm (standard cubic meter).


In the course of the Workers’ Day, Joe Ajaero, president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), dismissed the recent wage increase of between 25 percent and 35 percent for civil servants announced on Wednesday by the Federal Government, calling the move mischievous and insisting that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu fulfil his promise of paying “living wages” to Nigerian workers.

For his part, Festus Usifo, President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), said increasing the minimum wage for civil servants from N30,000 to N615,000 would not worsen Nigeria’s inflation rate, which stood at 33.20 percent as of March 2024.

In the same breath, both Ajaero and Osifo urged the Federal Government to also enthrone a service reflective electricity tariff and stop the segregation of customers.

In the 18-item demands presented by the Labour leaders, they said the electricity privatisation exercise in the country should be reviewed and reversed.

They further asked the government to immediately roll out the promised Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered buses nationwide as agreed.

Additionally, they called for a one-year moratorium on all forms of taxes, levies and dues collectible from the informal economy by state and local governments.

Related News

Meanwhile, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, had announced last week that the ‘Presidential CNG initiative was set for rollout.’

Onanuga said the Federal Government was set to launch about 2,700 CNG-powered buses and tricycles into the country’s transport system before May 29, when President Bola Tinubu turns one year in office.

According to him, about 2,500 of the tricycles would be ready before May 29, 2024…working towards delivering 200 units before the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration.

He stated that over 600 buses are targeted for production in the first phase, which will be accomplished in 2024, while 100 CNG conversion workshops and 60 refuelling sites spread across 18 states would be set up before the end of 2024.

Presently, about 40,000 trucks flood Nigeria’s roads and cities, but, only about 20-25,000 trucks are required for haulage business, experts say.

Analysts say that food prices would begin to noticeably trend downwards when up to 25 percent of haulage trucks in the country are CNG-powered and that the downward progression in food prices would follow incrementally as the volume grows, reducing the burden of high food costs on the wallets of teeming Nigerians, then freeing up disposable income for other pressing needs.

Clearly, the initial stipulated roll out of CNG trucks does not meet this mark but some progress is being made, evidence of work in progress.

Some politics watchers say that Labour’s request for a N615,000 minimum wage, which is viewed by a large body of economists as absurd, is a deliberate overhang ploy by the workers representatives and that they are making the request with a view to getting a sum closer to their actual and unstated expectations from government. This is ascribed to misgivings concerning sincerity across the table, between Labour and the Federal Government.

Politics watchers say that in its transactions with Labour, the Government has often deployed the alternating interface strategy, by way of presenting different groups or individuals to negotiate with Labour at intervals, on the same issues.

This, they say, has been a ploy to slow down progress on talks, force delays and buy time.

Such conduct, they say, breeds wariness and suspicion that impede transparency, trust and forthrightness going forward.

It is critical that both parties be more transparent and forthright in their interactions as teeming Nigerians whom they represent look up to them for the resolution of some of the telling challenges that they encounter daily.