To read this content please select one of the options below:

The good, the bad, and the ugly in the melting pot: The challenges of Nigerianising diversity management

Olusoji George (Department of Business Administration, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)
Kolawole M. Yusuff (School of Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour, University of Reading, Reading, UK)
Nelarine Cornelius (School of Management, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK) (School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 18 April 2017




Taking a clue from the aftermaths of colonisation and the need to manage an “unholy marriage” created by the British colonial masters, the purpose of this paper is to examine the peculiar challenges of managing Nigeria’s unique diversity in the public sector through the critical lens of the Federal Character Principle (FCP) with specific focus on how this invented model of diversity management ended up creating more serious problems than it was meant to solve in the Nigerian public administration.


The paper is essentially a review, and it relies on previous studies and real-world evidence on the subject. The paper systematically traces the evolution of diversity management in Nigerian public administration through the critical lens of the FCP with specific focus on how problematic it is to management Nigeria’s unique diversity with more serious problems being created by the FCP application in the public sector.


The paper reveals that the constitutional provisions of the “Federal Character Principle” ended up in creating more problems than it set out to solve, reflecting in the “melting pot” allegory. It reveals how problematic it is to manage the country’s diversity, and highlights some of the problems created by the FCP. The review makes a case for an urgent need to intensify empirical research on the subject in order to fashion out a better way of managing Nigeria’s diversity in the public sector.

Research limitations/implications

One major limitation of this paper is rooted in lack of empirical research such as survey to further explore the topic. Few real life examples and cases provided are considered insufficient to justify some of the assertions. Thus, a call for more systematic and empirical research is made.

Practical implications

The implication of the finding is that the model for managing workforce diversity especially in the Nigerian public sector (not limited to the public administration) must be “Nigerianised” such that the unique socio-cultural realities of the Nigeria’s society as well as benefits accrued to diversity can be fully explored in driving the growth of the country and survival of the “unity-in-diversity” goal.


The paper will benefit the government, all stakeholders, and the Nigerian society at large. It offers some useful insights into public administration. It stimulates an interest to conduct further research on diversity management with a view to producing some useful findings that could lead to a better management of diversity in the country.



Conflict of interest: the authors have not received any funding or benefits from any individual, organisation, industry or government. Therefore, all the statements and opinions expressed in the paper are devoid of any intentionally imposed or externally influenced bias or prejudice. The authors did everything ethically and professionally possible to dispense any form of this prejudice.

The current affiliation for Nelarine Cornelius is School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.


George, O., Yusuff, K.M. and Cornelius, N. (2017), "The good, the bad, and the ugly in the melting pot: The challenges of Nigerianising diversity management", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 238-254.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles