With an estimated population of 122 million in 1998, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. It is a country rich in natural and human resources. Nigeria’s population and potential natural and human resource base make it one of the most attractive countries for foreign investment in Africa. With e-commerce, for example, analysts have calculated that Nigeria has a potential 10 million Internet users and a possible 500,000 local web sites (Turner, 2000a). During the 1990s, notwithstanding political upheavals, the uncertain economic climate and erratic power and telecommunications, Nigeria attracted more foreign direct investment than any other African country. The return to democratic rule in May 1999 after a long period of military rule, and with it an active federal government policy of privatisation and liberalisation is likely to increase foreign investments. Under the new policy, more than 1,400 state-owned enterprises are to be privatised.
As foreign firms increase their involvement in Nigeria, they will need to build capabilities and utilise local competencies. Knowledge of human resource management (HRM) and more importantly perhaps, knowledge of the factors that impact on HRM in Nigeria will become increasingly critical to the way they do business in Nigeria and ultimately their success. The way to get things done cannot be divorced from local values, customs, and the overall external cultural environment. In most cases these social, human, and environmental factors are as important as the financial and marketing considerations upon which decisions to undertake multinational ventures depend (Bowling et at., 1999).
HRM policies and practices are carried out within an economic, social, political and legal environment. Thus, there is a need for considerable historical and cultural insight into local conditions to understand the processes, philosophies and problems of national models of HRM (Hofstede, 1993). This chapter, therefore, discusses within a socio-economic context, a number of factors that influence human resource policies and practices in Nigeria and highlights the new trends in human resource management in Nigeria.