Nigerian president increases minimum wage by two-thirds

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the two-thirds minimum wage increase

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday signed into law an increase by two-thirds to the minimum wage in Africa's most populous country.

It raises the minimum wage from 18,000 naira ($50, 44 euros) a month to 30,000 naira ($83).

"You can see me smiling on behalf of Nigerian workers," said top presidential assistant, Senator Ita Enang.

"President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Minimum Wage Repeal and Enactment Act 2019."

Many Nigerians struggle to make ends meet amid rising living costs, with inflation in Africa's leading oil producer nudging 11.5 percent.

More than 87 million of Nigeria's 190 million people live in extreme poverty on less than two dollars a day.

The increase follows months of political wrangling and threats of strike action by unions, with state governors last year rejecting the increase to 30,000 naira as "impracticable" given the amount of federal funding they receive.

Nigerian states receive monthly allocations from the federal government coffers, but many states have not paid public sector workers for months, citing the economic downturn.

The last increase was in 2011, when wages were more than doubled, from 7,500 to 18,000 naira.

The new rate, which Enang said comes into law immediately, is applicable to both the private and public sector, but smaller businesses which employ fewer than 25 people would be exempt.

"This is Mr President showing workers the love he has for them," Enang said.