Human Resources Management in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions: The Obafemi Awolowo University Experience


Jegede Charles Temitope 



Human Resources are the life blood of an organization. They are endowed with discretionary decision-making power and thus have competitive advantages over other resources. This paper examined human resources management in Nigerian tertiary institutions with a view to examining the challenges facing human resources management in Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife of Nigeria. This study was necessitated by the need to ensure improved organizational performance and attainment of objectives as higher institutions of the 21st century. Both primary and secondary sources of data were utilized for the study. Primary sources of data were collected through structured questionnaires. Secondary sources of data were from internet sources, journals, books, unpublished theses among others on the field of human resources management and higher education administration.  A total of 180 questionnaires were distributed to members of staff drawn from all the four unions in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics The findings from empirical studies revealed that they are many challenges of human resources management in Nigerian tertiary institutions such as inadequate funding, violent trade unionism among staff, ambiguity in policy interpretations, low productivity, poor quality of work life, poor health and safety at work among others. The study concluded that these challenges of human resources management in higher institutions should be addressed in order for Nigerian tertiary institutions to attain their objectives as institutions of the 21st century.

Keywords: Challenges, Human Resources Management, Organizational Performance, Tertiary Institutions.


Human resources are the life-blood of any enterprise or institution. They combine other resources in the right mix to formulate appropriate strategies for the accomplishment of the desired objectives of the enterprise. This important attribute of HR assist the enterprises to make rightful decisions and respond effectively to the threats and opportunities within the environment of the organization (Farant, 1982: Gerald, 1995; Hanif, 2002). Thus the enterprise depends highly on its HR for success and survival. This dependence continuously   increases the complex and turbulent nature of the business environment of this century (Anyim and Ikemoria 2011).

According to Ogunsaju (2006), human resource management is the effective mobilization of human resources based upon appropriate recruitment, selection, training and placement of appointed staff in order to achieve the organizational set down goals and objectives. Human resources are useful tools employed in harmonizing the needs of the employees with goals and objectives of the organization on a continuous basis (Akintoye et al, 2008).

The success of an organization is not only determined by the quality of personnel available but how well these human resources harnessed and coordinated towards, realizing the goals of the organization (Vance, and Paik, Y. 2006).

It is on this note that the study examined human resources management in Nigeria tertiary institutions with a view to understanding the challenges facing human resources management in Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

Objectives of the study

The objectives of the study are to

  1. review literature on human resources management
  2. examine the challenges facing human resources management in Nigeria tertiary institutions; and
  • suggest ameliorative measures to alleviate the challenges of human resources management in Nigeria tertiary institutions.

Literature Review

Nakpodia (2010) defined human resource management as part of management, which is concerned with people at work and with their relationship within the organization. London Institute of personal Management (1963) described human resource management as “the responsibility of those who manage people as well as descriptive specialists in management. This recognition acknowledged that human resource management is a distinction function of management in any public or private organization. The Personnel and Industrial Relations defined human resource management as “the process of developing, applying and evaluating policies, procedures, methods and programmes relating to the individual in an organization.

Human resources are saddled with the responsibility of designing and implementing policies and programmes that will enhance human abilities and improve the organizations overall effectiveness. The human resources practitioners play four critical rules in an organization or institution. They are to

  1. create and implement policies of an organization
  2. offer advice and counsel the employees on matter ordering on productivity, safety at work,

    or career among others.

iii. control of human resources programmes and laid down procedures; and

  1. provide services that assist line managers in performing their job or serving the organizational


Challenges of Human Resources management in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Anyim et al. (2011) identified the major factors militating against effective human resource management in Nigerian higher institutions. They include

  1. Poor productivity of workers in Nigeria
  2. Poor quality of work life
  • Insecurity and hazardous environment
  1. Quota system in employment
  2. Labour dissatisfaction at work
  3. Changing role of government or state in industrial relations
  • Economic recession; and
  • Diversity of workforce

Owojori and Asaolu (2010) maintained that the problems of human resources management in Nigeria higher institutions include inadequate financing, violent trade unionism among staff, disagreement on policy matters, lack of trust and ambiguity in policy interpretations.

From the foregoing discussion, it can be deduced that the problems militating against effective  of human resources management in Nigeria tertiary institutions include the following:

Inadequate finance: – Lack of finance could be responsible for inadequate facilities such as office furniture and fittings, instructional materials, delay in salary delay/non-payment of allowances etc. which could result in face-off taking a variety such as confrontation and strike.

Violent trade unionism among staff: – Misinformation, misinterpretation or lack of good communication network could cause trade unions to be aggressive and get out of hand. This is one of the hindrances to human resource management in Nigeria higher institutions.

Lack of trust: – There is usually lack of trust between management and members of staff in higher institutions. This could result in poor communication or ambiguity in communication content and selection in our union.

Staff recruitment and selection: – According to Ogunruku (2010), the principle of recruiting the best staffs into higher institutions have been compromised, this has impacted negatively into the human resource management in Nigerian higher institutions.

 Dictation from the political class: – There have been worries over time about this the type of people that are appointed to represent the external community on the governing councils of higher institutions in Nigeria. Often times, they are basically and prepondently politicians without cognate knowledge of the higher institution culture and ethos. This political class could dictate policies to the disinterest staff. This causes internal conflicts in higher institution community.

Disagreement on policy matters:  Policy matters could be source or disagreement. Instances abound when discrepancy in salary/remuneration among staff of different unions (e.g. ASUU and NASU) have created problems for university management.


A total of 180 questionnaires were distributed to members of staff drawn from all the four unions in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. All hand was on deck to ensure that are the accurate number of questionnaires distributed to respondents were collected accordingly.

The results of the findings from general profile of the members or staff and problems of managing human resources are illustrated in table 1 and 2 below.

The results of the findings from Table 2 show that majority of the respondents attest to the fact that human resource management face serious challenges which include inadequate finance, violent trade unionism, lack of trust, politicization of staff recruitment, dictation from the political class, disagreement on policy matters, insecurity and hazardous environment.


The study examined the challenges facing human resources management in Nigerian tertiary institutions. It also reviewed literature on human resources and problems of human resources  management in Nigeria tertiary institutions. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

The study concluded that the problems facing human resources management in higher institution should be addressed in order for them to attain their stipulated objectives as institutions of the 21st century.



In the light of the crucial issues discussed, the paper recommends as follows:

  1. The government should provide adequate funding to higher institutions for proper maintenance of equipment, facilities and other expenditures of emergent need.
  2. There should be democratization of administrative processes in the Nigerian higher institutions.
  • Nigerian higher institutions must employ ICT in order to provide better human resource management service to their constituents and stakeholders.
  1. University autonomy on policy making matters should be encouraged and a consistent and effective communication network should actually be maintained.
  2. Staff welfare should be given priority to enhance greater productivity and cooperation.
  3. Management of higher institutions must ensure that there is good rapport and human relation between heads of the various departments, sections, units and their staff.
  • Higher institutions in Nigeria must look inward on ways of generating or improving on its internally generated revenue to complement government efforts.
  • Regular trainings should be organized for head of the various faculties, directorates, units, institutes, departments and sections in the art of personnel management.
  1. Finally, professional administrators should master their areas competently in order for

 higher institutions to have effective and efficient  human resources management.


[1] Akintoye, I.R., Adidu, F.I. Owojori, A.A. (2008). “Management and organization: A Book of

Reading” Akure: Tonygay Educational Publishers Ltd.      

[2]Anyim, F. C., Ikemefuma, C. O., Mbah, S. E. (2011) “Human Resource Management Challenges in Nigeria Under Published Economy” International Journal of Economics and

Management Sciences, Vol. 1, pp. 01-11.

[3] Farant, J. S. (1982) “Management or Higher Institutions” Lagos: Macmillan Publishers

[4 ]Gerald, P. B. (1995) ‘‘Administration of Higher Education’’ New York: Harper and Row


[5]Hanif, A. and Saba, K. (2002) “A Study of Effectiveness of Human Resources at Elementary

 Levels: Master Degree Thesis, Unpublished, Lahore: University of the Punjab.

[6] London Institute of Personnel Management, (1963) “Human Resource Management:An

Overview” An Address at Golden Jubilee of Institute of Personnel Management London.

[7]Nakpodia, E. D. (2010) “Human Resource Management in School Administration in Delta State,         Nigeria, Journal of Social Science 23 (3): pp-179-187.

[8] Ogunruku, A. O. (2010) “Excellence in University Administration in the 21st century: Nigerian Universities in Perspective” Birthday Lecture in honour of Chief Deji Adegbite (first

Registrar University of Ado-Ekiti).

[9] Ogunsaju, T. O. (2006) “Human Capital Management for Effective Corporate Governance” Paper      presented at a Workshop titled: Corporate Governance for Sustainable and National Development.

[10]Owojori, A.. A.. and Asaolu T .O. (2010), “Critical Evaluation of Personal Management Problems in the Nigerian School System” International Journal of Education Science, 2(1) pp.1-11.

[11] Vance, C.M. and Paik, Y. (2006) “Managing A Global Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities     in International HRM”. New York: Sharpe Publishers.