What is the change? Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has issued an executive order requiring that Nigerian companies be given preference for awards of public contracts in science, engineering and technology and prohibiting the issuance of work permits to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria.

What does the change mean? Companies intending to employ foreign labor and apply for expatriate quotas in the fields of science, engineering and technology should anticipate greater scrutiny of their applications. They should also expect stricter enforcement of existing requirements that they train local understudies to eventually replace expatriate workers.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Companies employing or wishing to employ foreign nationals in Nigeria.
  • Business impact: The order is likely to make it more difficult for companies to hire foreign workers in the targeted industries.
  • Next steps: The Nigerian Immigration Service will be implementing the order and is expected to conduct rigorous scrutiny of work permit applications.  

Background: The executive order calls for the promotion of local Nigerian content in the science, engineering and technology industries and directs all procuring authorities to give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts. The order also prohibits the Nigerian Ministry of Interior from issuing work permits to foreign workers if their skills are available in the local workforce.

The president also ordered that government agencies hire local professionals for the planning, design and execution of any national security projects and that foreign professionals should only be considered “where it is certified that such expertise is not available in Nigeria.”

The Nigerian Immigration Service has confirmed that it is committed to enforcing the order immediately.

BAL Analysis: Companies intending to hire foreign employees in science, technology and engineering should anticipate greater scrutiny when applying for expatriate quotas and plan for stricter enforcement in hiring and training Nigerian employees as understudies to take over the positions occupied by foreign workers.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Nigeria. For additional information, please contact

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