Nigeria’s economy – Africa’s largest – exited recession with a 3.4% GDP growth rate in 2021 following a contraction of 1.9% the previous year. The IMF forecasts growth rates of under 3% in 2022 and 2023 while the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics predicts a more robust 4.2% growth rate in 2022. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has prioritized diversification of Nigeria’s economy beyond oil and gas, with the stated goals of building a competitive manufacturing sector, expanding agricultural output, and capitalizing on Nigeria’s technological and innovative advantages. With the largest population in Africa, Nigeria is an attractive consumer market for investors and traders, and offering abundant natural resources and a low-cost labor pool.
The government has undertaken reforms to help improve the business environment, including by facilitating faster business start-up by allowing electronic stamping of registration documents and making it easier to obtain construction permits, register property, obtain credit, and pay taxes. Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows nevertheless declined from roughly $1 billion in 2020 to $699 million in 2021 as persistent challenges remain.
Corruption is a serious obstacle to Nigeria’s economic growth and is often cited by domestic and foreign investors as a significant barrier to doing business. Nigeria’s ranking in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index fell slightly from its 2020 score of 149 out of 175 countries to154 of 180 in 2021. Businesses report that corruption by customs and port officials often leads to extended delays in port clearance processes and to other issues importing goods.
Nigeria’s trade regime is protectionist in key areas. High tariffs, restricted foreign exchange availability for 44 categories of imports, and prohibitions on many other import items have the aim of spurring domestic agricultural and manufacturing sector growth. The government provides tax incentives and customs duty exemptions for pioneer industries including renewable energy. A decline in oil exports, rising prices for imported goods, an overvalued currency, and Nigeria’s expensive fuel subsidy regime continued to exert pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserves in 2021. Domestic and foreign businesses frequently cite lack of access to foreign currency as a significant impediment to doing business.
Nigeria’s underdeveloped power sector is a bottleneck to broad-based economic development and forces most businesses to generate a significant portion of their own electricity. Reform of Nigeria’s power sector is ongoing, but investor confidence continues to be weakened by regulatory uncertainty and limited domestic natural gas supply.
Security remains a concern to investors in Nigeria due to violent crime, kidnappings for ransom, and terrorism in certain parts of the country. The ongoing Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISIS-WA) insurgencies have included attacks against civilian and military targets in the northeast of the country. Nigeria has experienced a rise in kidnappings for ransom and attacks on villages by armed gangs in the North West and North Central regions. Criminal attacks on oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta region that restricted oil production in 2016 have eased, but a significant rise in illegal bunkering and oil theft has left the sector in a similar state of decreased output.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2021||154 of 180||http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview|
|Global Innovation Index||2021||118 of 132||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2020||$6,811||https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2020||$2,000||https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD|
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
Nigeria belongs to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a free trade area comprising 15 countries located in West Africa. Nigeria signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) – a free trade agreement consisting of 54 African countries, which became operational on January 1, 2021 – but its legislature has yet to ratify it and implementation of the agreement remains nascent. Nigeria has bilateral investment agreements with: Algeria, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. Fifteen of these treaties (those with China, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom) have been ratified by both parties.
The government signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States in 2000. U.S. and Nigerian officials held their latest round of TIFA talks in 2016. In 2017, Nigeria and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding to formally establish the U.S.–Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue (CID). The ministerial-level meeting with private sector representatives was last held in February 2020. The CID coordinates bilateral private sector-to-private sector, government-to-government, and private sector-to-government discussions on policy and regulatory reforms to promote increased, diverse, and sustained trade and investment between the United States and Nigeria, with an initial focus on infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy, investment, and regulatory reform.
Nigeria has 14 ratified double taxation agreements, including: Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Nigeria does not have such an agreement with the United States. Nigeria’s Finance Act of 2021 empowered the FIRS to collect corporate taxes from digital firms at a “fair and reasonable turnover” rate, which translates to 6% of turnover generated in Nigeria. This will address the profit attribution issues raised following the ambiguity of the Finance Act of 2019 which subjected non-resident companies with significant economic presence to corporate and sales taxes. Most of the affected companies are digital firms, many with U.S. headquarters. Nigeria enacted the Petroleum Industry Act (2021) which overhauled the institutional, regulatory, administrative, and fiscal arrangements for the oil and gas industry. While the legislation provides long-awaited additional clarity and updates Nigeria’s governance structures and fiscal terms for the traditional energy sector, U.S. oil companies contend that it has not increased Nigeria’s competitiveness relative to other oil producing countries and may fail to attract significant new investments in the sector.
Nigeria is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Sharing but declined to sign the two-pillar solution to global tax challenges in October 2021.
3. Legal Regime
4. Industrial Policies
5. Protection of Property Rights
6. Financial Sector
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The government does not have an established practice consistent with the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), but SOEs have respective enabling legislations that govern their ownership. To legalize the existence of state-owned enterprises, provisions have been made in the Nigerian constitution relating to socio-economic development and in section 16 (1). The government has privatized many former SOEs to encourage more efficient operations, such as state-owned telecommunications company Nigerian Telecommunications and mobile subsidiary Mobile Telecommunications in 2014. SOEs operate in a variety of sectors ranging from information and communication; power; oil and gas; transportation including rail, maritime, and airports; and finance.
Nigeria does not operate a centralized ownership system for its state-owned enterprises. Most SOEs are 100% government owned. Others are owned by the government through the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) or solely or jointly by MOFI and various agencies of government. The enabling legislation for each SOE also stipulates its governance structure. The boards of directors are appointed by the president and occasionally on the recommendation of the relevant minister. The boards operate and are appointed in line with the enabling legislation which usually stipulates the criteria for appointing board members. Directors are appointed by the board within the relevant sector. In a few cases, however, appointments have been viewed as a reward to political allies. Operational autonomy varies amongst SOEs. Most SOEs are parastatals of a supervising ministry or the presidency with minimal autonomy. SOEs with regulatory or industry oversight functions are often technically independent of ministerial supervision; however, ministers and other political appointees often interfere in their operations.
All SOEs are required to remit a share of their profits or operational surpluses to the federal government. This “independent revenue” more than doubled from 2020 to 1.1 trillion naira ($2.6 billion) in 2021 and exceeded budget projections by 13%. This was as a result of the government’s drive to increase non-oil revenues as well as increasingly stringent oversight of SOE remittances. The 60 largest SOEs (excluding the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)) generated a combined 1.2 trillion naira ($2.9 billion) in revenues and spent a total 410 billion naira ($983 million) in the first eleven months of 2021. The government often provides certain grants to SOEs that are inefficiently run and/or loss-making. For example, and over the past five years, the government has allocated 102 billion naira ($245 million) to the Transmission Company of Nigeria, 402 billion naira ($964 million) to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company, 154 billion naira ($369 million) to the Nigerian Railway Corporation, and 24 billion naira ($58 million) to the Ajaokuta Steel Company. These SOEs wereall ostensibly established to generate and remit revenue.
NNPC is Nigeria’s most prominent state-owned enterprise. Under the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, NNPC was incorporated as a limited liability company in September 2021, although the incorporation process does not appear to have led to a de facto change in the company’s operations and the government maintains 100% ownership. NNPC Board appointments are made by the presidency, but day-to-day management is overseen by the Group Managing Director (GMD). The GMD reports to the Minister of Petroleum Resources. In the current administration, the President has retained that ministerial role for himself, and the appointed Minister of State for Petroleum Resources acts as the de facto Minister of Petroleum in the president’s stead with certain limitations.
NNPC is Nigeria’s biggest and arguably most important state-owned enterprise and is involved in exploration, refining, petrochemicals, products transportation, and marketing. It owns and operates Nigeria’s four refineries (one each in Warri and Kaduna and two in Port Harcourt), all of which are currently and largely inoperable. NNPC remits proceeds from the sale of crude oil less operational expenses to the federation account which is managed by the federal government on behalf of all tiers of government. It is also expected to pay corporate and petroleum profits taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). NNPC began publishing audited financial statements in 2020 for the three prior fiscal years, a significant step toward improving transparency of NNPC operations. The government generated crude oil net revenue of 1.5 trillion naira ($3.6 billion) in 2020 in large part due to NNPC’s $10 billion gross revenue and the government’s removal of the gasoline subsidy for half of 2020 in the face of low global oil prices. However, despite higher oil prices, crude oil revenue fell to 970 billion naira ($2.3 billion) in the first eleven months of 2021. This is largely due to declining crude production and the significant subsidy costs which NNPC deducts from revenue before remitting the balance to the government.
NNPC’s dual role as industry operator and unofficial regulator as well as its proximity to government lends it certain advantages its competitors lack. For instance, the CBN often prioritizes NNPC’s foreign exchange requests and has offered the corporation a subsidized exchange rate for its importation of petroleum products in the past. In addition, its proximity to government affords it high-level influence. NNPC’s inputs formed a critical part of the government’s position during the drafting of the Petroleum Industry Act of 2021. NNPC’s objection to the sale of an international oil company’s subsidiary with which it operates a joint venture has stayed the government approval required for the divestment.
The government also owns equity in some private-sector-run entities. It retained 60% and 40% equity in the generation and distribution companies, respectively, that emerged from the power sector privatization exercise in 2013. Despite being privately-run, revenues across the power sector value chain are hindered by the overall inefficiencies and illiquidity in the sector. Consequently, a government facility finances a sizeable portion of the sector’s activities. The Transmission Company of Nigeria, of which the government retained full ownership, is largely financed by the government. The government owns 49% of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited (NLNG) with the balance held by several international oil companies. NLNG is one of Nigeria’s most profitable companies and the dividends paid to the government accounted for nearly 3% of federal government revenues in 2021.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
There is no specific Responsible Business Conduct law in Nigeria. Several legislative acts incorporate within their provisions certain expectations that directly or indirectly regulate the observance or practice of corporate social responsibility. In order to reinforce responsible behavior, various laws have been put in place for the protection of the environment. These laws stipulate criminal sanctions for non-compliance but are not consistently enforced. There are also regulating agencies which exist to protect the rights of consumers. Additionally, the Nigerian government has no specific action plan regarding OECD Responsible Business Conduct guidelines.
Nigeria participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and is an EITI compliant country. Specifically, in February 2019 the EITI Board determined that Nigeria had made satisfactory progress overall with implementing the EITI Standard after having fully addressed the corrective actions from the country’s first Validation in 2017. The next EITI Validation study of Nigeria will occur in 2022.
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (the Commission) also ensure comprehensive standards and guidelines to direct the execution of projects with proper consideration for the environment. These two agencies replaced the now defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and its Environmental Guidelines and Standards of 1991 for the petroleum industry. These two agencies aim to continue the DPR’s mission to preserve and protect the environmental issues of the Niger Delta.
The Nigerian government provides oversight relating to the competition, consumer rights, and environmental protection issues. The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the Standards Organization of Nigeria, and other entities have the authority to impose fines and ensure the destruction of harmful substances that otherwise may be sold to the general public. The main regulators and enforcers of corporate governance are the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Corporate Affairs Commission (which register all incorporated companies). Nigeria has adopted multiple reforms on corporate governance.
The Companies Allied Matter Act 2020 and the Investment Securities Act provide basic guidelines on company listing. More detailed regulations are covered in the NSX Listing rules. Publicly listed companies are expected to disclose their level of compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance in their Annual Financial Reports.
Domestic and foreign observers identify corruption as a serious obstacle to economic growth and poverty reduction. Nigeria ranked 154 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index.
Businesses report that bribery of customs and port officials remains common and often necessary to avoid extended delays in the port clearance process, and that smuggled goods routinely enter Nigeria’s seaports and cross its land borders.
Since taking office in 2015, President Buhari has focused on implementing a campaign pledge to address corruption, though his critics contend his anti-corruption efforts often target political rivals.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act of 2004 established the EFCC to prosecute individuals involved in financial crimes and other acts of economic “sabotage.” Traditionally, the EFCC has achieved the most success in prosecuting low-level internet scam operators. A relatively few high-profile convictions have taken place, such as a former governor of Adamawa State, a former governor of Bayelsa State, a former Inspector General of Police, and a former Chair of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority. The EFCC also arrested a former National Security Advisor (NSA), a former Minister of State for Finance, a former NSA Director of Finance and Administration, and others on charges related to diversion of funds intended for government arms procurement. EFCC investigations have led to 5,562 convictions since 2010, with 2,200 in 2021. In 2020 the EFCC announced that the Buhari administration convicted 1,692 defendants and recovered over $2.6 billion in assets over the previous four-year period. In 2021, EFCC’s investigation of a former petroleum minister resulted in seizure of properties valued more than $80M.
The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act of 2001 established an Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to prosecute individuals, government officials, and businesses for corruption. The Corrupt Practices Act punishes over 19 offenses, including accepting or giving bribes, fraudulent acquisition of property, and concealment of fraud. Nigerian law stipulates that giving and receiving bribes constitute criminal offences and, as such, are not tax deductible. Between 2019-2020 the ICPC filed 178 cases in court and secured convictions in 51 cases. The ICPC announced in early 2022 that it had recovered cash and assets valued at 166.51 billion naira (about $400 million at the official exchange rate) from corrupt persons in the preceding two and half years.
In 2021, the Deputy Commissioner of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and Chief of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Abba Kyari, often publicly referred to as “Nigeria’s Supercop,” was suspended from the NPF and arrested for drug dealing, evidence tampering, and corruption for reportedly accepting bribes from a Nigerian internet fraudster Ramon Abbas, popularly known as “Hushpuppi,” who pleaded guilty to money laundering in the United States. The Nigeria Police Service Commission finalized the suspension of Kyari on July 31, following the release of unsealed court documents filed in a U.S. District Court ordering the arrest of Kyari for his involvement in a $1.1 million fraud scheme with Abbas. Kyari is alleged to have solicited payment for the detainment and arrest of Abbas at Abbas’s behest.
In 2016, Nigeria announced its participation in the Open Government Partnership, a significant step forward on public financial management and fiscal transparency. The Ministry of Justice presented Nigeria’s National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership.
Implementation of its 14 commitments has made some progress, particularly on the issues such as tax transparency, ease of doing business, and asset recovery. The National Action Plan, which ran through 2019, covered five major themes: ensuring citizens’ participation in the budget cycle, implementing open contracting and adoption of open contracting data standards, increasing transparency in the extractive sectors, adopting common reporting standards like the Addis Tax initiative, and improving the ease of doing business. Full implementation of the National Action Plan would be a significant step forward for Nigeria’s fiscal transparency, although Nigeria has not fully completed any commitment to date.
The Buhari administration created a network of agencies intended to work together to achieve anticorruption goals – the EFCC, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) – and which are principally responsible for the recovery of the ill-gotten assets and diverted tax liabilities. The government launched the Financial Transparency Policy and Portal, commonly referred to as Open Treasury Portal, in 2019, to increase transparency and governmental accountability of funds transferred by making the daily treasury statement public. The Open Treasury Portal mandates that all ministries, departments, and agencies publish daily reports of payments in excess of N5m ($13,800). Agencies are also required to publish budget performance reports and other official financial statements monthly. Anticorruption activists demand more reforms and increased transparency in defense, oil and gas, and infrastructure procurement.
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act of 2007 provided for the establishment of the NEITI organization, charged with developing a framework for transparency and accountability in the reporting and disclosure by all extractive industry companies of revenue due to or paid to the Nigerian government. NEITI serves as a member of the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which provides a global standard for revenue transparency for extractive industries like oil and gas and mining. Nigeria is party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Nigeria is not a member of the OECD and not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.
Foreign companies, whether incorporated in Nigeria or not, may bid on government projects and generally receive national treatment in government procurement, but may also be subject to a local content vehicle (e.g., partnership with a local partner firm or the inclusion of one in a consortium) or other prerequisites which are likely to vary from tender to tender. Corruption and lack of transparency in tender processes have been a far greater concern to U.S. companies than discriminatory policies based on foreign status. Government tenders are published in local newspapers, a “tenders” journal sold at local newspaper outlets, and occasionally in foreign journals and magazines. The Nigerian government has made modest progress on its pledge to conduct open and competitive bidding processes for government procurement with the introduction of the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal in 2017 under the Bureau of Public Procurement.
The Public Procurement Law of 2007 established the Bureau of Public Procurement as the successor agency to the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit. It acts as a clearinghouse for government contracts and procurement and monitors the implementation of projects to ensure compliance with contract terms and budgetary restrictions. Procurements above 100 million naira (approximately $243,000) reportedly undergo full “due process,” but government agencies routinely flout public procurement requirements. Some of the 36 states of the federation have also passed public procurement legislation.
Certain such reforms have also improved transparency in procurement by the state-owned NNPC. Although U.S. companies have won contracts in numerous sectors, difficulties in receiving payment are not uncommon and can deter firms from bidding. Supplier or foreign government subsidized financing arrangements appear in some cases to be a crucial factor in the award of government procurements. Nigeria is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.
10. Political and Security Environment
Political, criminal, and ethnic violence continue to affect Nigeria. Boko Haram and Islamic State – West Africa (ISIS-WA) have waged violent terrorist campaigns, killing of thousands of people in the country’s North East. Boko Haram and ISIS-WA attacked civilians, military, police, humanitarian, and religious targets; recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers; and carried out scores of attacks on population centers in the North East and in neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Abductions by Boko Haram and ISIS-WA continue. These attacks resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, numerous human rights abuses, widespread destruction, the internal displacement of more than three million persons, and the external displacement of at least 327,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries as of the end of 2021. ISIS-WA terrorists demonstrated increased ability to conduct complex attacks against military outposts and formations. During 2021, ISIS-WA terrorists took over significant territory formerly held by Boko Haram. ISIS-WA expanded efforts to implement shadow governance structures in large swaths of Borno State.
President Buhari has sought to address matters of insecurity in Nigeria. While the terrorists maintain the ability to stage forces in rural areas and launch attacks against civilian and military targets across the North East, Nigeria is also facing rural violence in many parts of the country carried out by criminals who raid villages and abduct civilians for ransom. Longstanding disputes between migratory pastoralist and farming communities, exacerbated by increasingly scarce resources and intensified by climate change impacts, also continue to afflict the country.
Due to challenging security dynamics throughout the country, the U.S. Mission to Nigeria has significantly limited official travel in the North East, and travel to other parts of Nigeria requires security precautions. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a political separatist group declared a terrorist organization by the Nigerian government in 2013, established a militant arm in December 2020, the Eastern Security Network (ESN). ESN has been blamed for a surge in attacks in early 2021 against Nigerian police and security installations across the South East, the region in which IPOB claims the most support. Following extradition from Kenya and subsequent arrest of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu in June 2021, IPOB/ESN issued a “stay at home” order on Mondays for the five states of the South East (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo). Residents or visitors to the area who disobey the order have faced violent intimidation, which has led to a near complete shutdown of activity across the South East each Monday and other days significant to Kanu’s trial. The U.S. Mission to Nigeria does not allow official travel in those states on days that a stay-at-home order is in place.
Decades of neglect, persistent poverty, and environmental damage caused by oil spills and illegal refining activities have left Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta region vulnerable to renewed violence. Though each oil-producing state receives a 13% derivation of the oil revenue produced within its borders, and several government agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, are tasked with implementing development projects, bureaucratic mismanagement and corruption have prevented these investments from yielding meaningful economic and social development in the region. Niger Delta criminals have demonstrated their ability to attack and severely damage oil instillations at will, as seen when they cut Nigeria’s production by more than half in 2016. Attacks on oil installations decreased due to a revamped amnesty program and high-level engagement with the region at the time, but the underlying economic woes and historical grievances of the local communities were not addressed. As a result, insecurity in various forms continues to plague the region.
More significant in recent years is the region’s shift from attacks against oil infrastructure to illegal oil bunkering and illicit refining. In its July 2021 audit, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) reported that Nigeria lost 42.25 million barrels of crude oil to oil theft in 2019, valued at $2.77 billion. While the Nigerian Navy Eastern Naval Command disclosed that it had deactivated 175 illegal refineries and seized 27 vessels throughout its area of operation over a period of 11 months during 2021, such illegal activities have nonetheless continued, and oil theft remains a significant issue for both the industry and the region’s environment. In 2021, Nigeria reportedly lost $3.5 billion in revenue to crude oil theft, representing approximately 10% of the country’s foreign reserves, and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) still reports hundreds of oil spills each year.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
Nigeria’s skilled labor pool has declined over the past decade due to inadequate educational systems, limited employment opportunities, and the migration of educated Nigerians to other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and South Africa. The low employment capacity of Nigeria’s formal sector means that almost three-quarters of all Nigerians work in the informal and agricultural sectors or are unemployed. Companies involved in formal sector businesses, such as banking and insurance, possess an adequately skilled workforce. Manufacturing and construction sector workers often require on-the-job training. The result is that while individual wages are low, individual productivity is also low, which means overall relative labor costs can be high. The Buhari Administration is pushing reforms in the education sector to improve the supply of skilled workers but this and other efforts run by state governments are in their initial stages.
The labor movement has long been active and influential in Nigeria. Labor organizations remain politically active and are prone to call for strikes on a regular basis against the national and state governments. Since 2000, unions have successfully called eight general strikes. While most labor actions are peaceful, difficult economic conditions fuel the risk that these actions could become violent.
Nigeria’s constitution guarantees the rights of free assembly and association and protects workers’ rights to form or belong to trade unions. Several statutory laws, nonetheless, restrict the rights of workers to associate or disassociate with labor organizations. Nigerian unions belong to one of three trade union federations: the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), which tends to represent junior (i.e., blue collar) workers; the United Labor Congress of Nigeria (ULC), which represents a group of unions that separated from the NLC in 2015; and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), which represents the “senior” (i.e., white collar) workers.
According to figures provided by the Ministry of Labor and Employment, total union membership stands at roughly seven million. A majority of these union members work in the public sector, although unions exist across the private sector. The Trade Union Amendment Act of 2005 allowed non-management senior staff to join unions.
Collective bargaining in the oil and gas industry is relatively efficient compared to other sectors. Issues pertaining to salaries, benefits, health and safety, and working conditions tend to be resolved quickly through negotiations. Workers under collective bargaining agreements cannot participate in strikes unless their unions comply with the requirements of the law, which includes provisions for mandatory mediation and referral of disputes to the Nigerian government. Despite these restrictions on staging strikes, unions occasionally conduct strikes in the private and public sectors without warning. In 2021, localized strikes occurred in the education, government, energy, power, and healthcare sectors. The law forbids employers from granting general wage increases to workers without prior government approval, but the law is not often enforced.
In April 2019, President Buhari signed into law a new minimum wage, increasing it from 18,000 naira ($50 at the 2019 official exchange rate) to 30,000 naira ($73 at the 2021 official exchange rate) per month. More than 15 state governments have yet to commence with the implementation of the new minimum wage. [Note: The federal government has even threatened to sanction the management of the National Assembly over its breach of the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019, for failing to pay its employees at the new minimum rate as of April 18, 2019.] Nigeria’s Labor Act provides for a 40-hour work week, two to four weeks of annual leave, and overtime and holiday pay for all workers except agricultural and domestic workers. No law prohibits compulsory overtime. The Act establishes general health and safety provisions, some of which specifically apply to young or female workers and requires the Ministry of Labor and Employment to inspect factories for compliance with health and safety standards. Under-funding and limited resources undermine the Ministry’s oversight capacity, and construction sites and other non-factory work sites are often ignored. Nigeria’s labor law requires employers to compensate injured workers and dependent survivors of workers killed in industrial accidents.
The Nigerian Minister of Labor and Employment may refer unresolved disputes to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and the National Industrial Court (NIC). In 2015, the NIC launched an Alternative Dispute Resolution Center. Union officials question the effectiveness and independence of the NIC, believing it unable to resolve disputes stemming from Nigerian government failure to fulfill contract provisions for public sector employees. Union leaders criticize the arbitration system’s dependence on the Minister of Labor and Employment’s referrals to the IAP.
The issue of child labor remains of great concern in Nigeria, where an estimated 15 million children under the age of 14 are working, and about half this population being exploited as workers in hazardous situations according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Nigeria’s laws regarding minimum age for child labor and hazardous work are inconsistent. Article 59 of the Labor Act of 1974 sets the minimum age of employment at 12, and it is in force throughout Nigeria. The Act also permits children of any age to do light work alongside a family member in agriculture, horticulture, or domestic service.
The Federal 2003 Child Rights Act (CRA) codifies the rights of children in Nigeria and must be ratified by each State to become law in its territory. To date, 28 states and the Federal Capital Territory have ratified the CRA, with all eight of the remaining states located in northern Nigeria. [Note: The legislatures in Kebbi and Yobe States tentatively approved the law and are only awaiting their governors’ signatures to ratify the bills.]
The CRA states that the provisions related to young people in the Labor Act apply to children under the CRA, but also that the CRA supersedes any other legislation related to children. The CRA restricts children under the age of 18 from any work aside from light work for family members; however, Article 59 of the Labor Act applies these restrictions only to children under the age of 12. This language makes it unclear what minimum ages apply for certain types of work in the country.
While the Labor Act forbids the employment of youth under age 18 in work that is dangerous to their health, safety, or morals, it allows children to participate in certain types of work that may be dangerous by setting different age thresholds for various activities. For example, the Labor Act allows children age 16 and older to work at night in gold mining and the manufacturing of iron, steel, paper, raw sugar, and glass. Furthermore, the Labor Act does not extend to children employed in domestic service. Thus, children are vulnerable to dangerous work in industrial undertakings, underground, with machines, and in domestic service. In addition, the prohibitions established by the Labor Act and CRA are not comprehensive or specific enough to facilitate enforcement. In 2013, the National Steering Committee (NSC) for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Nigeria validated the Report on the Identification of Hazardous Child Labor in Nigeria. The report has languished with the Ministry of Labor and Employment and still awaits the promulgation of guidelines for operationalizing the report.
The Nigerian government adopted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition), Enforcement, and Administration Act of 2015. While not specifically directed against child labor, many sections of the law support anti-child labor efforts. The Violence against Persons Prohibition Act was signed into law in 2015 and, while not specifically focused on child labor, it covers related elements such as “depriving a person of his/her liberty,” “forced financial dependence/economic abuse,” and “forced isolation/separation from family and friends” and is applicable to minors.
Draft legislation, such as a new Labor Standards Act which includes provisions on child labor, and an Occupational Safety and Health Act that would regulate hazardous work, have remained under consideration in the National Assembly since 2006.
Admission of foreign workers is overseen by the Ministry of the Interior. Employers must seek the consent of the Ministry in order to employ foreign workers by applying for an “expatriate quota.” The quota allows a company to employ foreign nationals in specifically approved job designations as well as specifying the validity period of the designations provided on the quota.
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
|Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)||2021||$422,240||2020||$432,294|
|Foreign Direct Investment||Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||N/A||N/A||2020||$9,405||BEA data available at BEA : Nigeria –
International Trade and Investment
|Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)||N/A||N/A||2020||$132||BEA data available at BEA : Nigeria –
International Trade and Investment
|Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP||N/A||N/A||2020||0.55%|
* Source for Host Country Data: Nigerian Bureau of Statistics
|Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||$74,256||100%||Total Outward||$13,213||100%|
|Netherlands, The||$13,640||18%||United Kingdom||$2,380||18%|
|United States||$9,405||13%||Netherlands, The||$1,217||9%|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.
14. Contact for More Information
Trade and Investment Officer
Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive
Telephone: +234 (0)9 461 4000