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CONFLICT AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA (A CRITICAL ANALTYSIS OF NIGER DELTA REGION 2000-2007)

 

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CONFLICT AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA (A CRITICAL ANALTYSIS OF NIGER DELTA REGION 2000-2007)

 

 

ABSTRACT

One of the major problems facing Nigeria and indeed, Africa is intra and inter-ethnic conflicts. The conflicts in some of these nations have, in very recent times degenerated into serious violence, a number of which have developed into intractable armed struggle. These situations have, to a large extent threatened the corporate existence of many African states, especially against the backdrop of the divergent cultures of the various ethnic nationalities; Rwanda, Congo Democratic Republic, Sudan and Somalia to mention some of them. And the Niger Delta question in Nigeria is one that has remained a vexed area for which no answer seems to be sufficient. What therefore, is the way forward? It is in line with the various attempts in the past that this essay proposes the theatrical approach.

The conflict in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has become global as it is wont to,given the fact that the major actors in the crisis are transnational-the multinational oilcorporations play very critical and fundamental roles in the crisis as a result of their insatiable quest to make profit and their inability to behave appropriately towards the people of theregion. This situation has made them relate with the people as they would in any other business venture where they would not want to lose out but to continuallymake profit. In the process, the people decide to come up in arms to claim their right and thus ensues conflict between the two, because the Niger Delta is at the crossroads of Nigeria’s political economy presently. In this paper, we are of the opinion that it is only when the government takes a serious look into the affairs of the multinationals inthe Niger Delta with a proven effort to treat the indigenes right that the problem can beabated.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

1.0      INTRODUCTION   

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

In Nigeria, ethnic conflicts have contributed to the social and political dislocation of the Nigerian society. This situation has often led to stagnation in social and economic growth of the country. Of late, the seeming intractable conflict in the Niger Delta has assumed a much dangerous dimension resulting in the wanton destruction of state properties and loss of lives and private properties of inestimable value. There has been reported cases of armed militia groups that have taken root in the creeks of Niger Delta, particularly in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States, whole activities ranges from bunkering, through piracy to kidnapping and blowing up of oil installations. All these have caused irreparable damage and loss to the Nigerian state. What for instance, is the reason for some of these conflicts?

A number of factors may have contributed to the conflict situation in the Niger Delta: anger, hatred, greed, lust jealousy, selfish ambition and break breakdown in communication etc. These according to Hagher (1997) are some of the reasons responsible for the conflict in most countries. While this may be true to some degree, on a global level he contends that conflicts and other wars are a result of “Social Injustice, insecurity of life and property, territorial ambition, national pride, religious intolerance, ideological differences….” These, he aptly describes as the “oils igniting the flames of war all over”. Through these conflicts, the economic, political and social life of the people have been dislocated and destroyed.

Nevertheless, the government in an attempt to stem these conflicts has enlisted a number of measures, including workshops and conferences aimed at resolving the conflict situation in the Niger Delta. But despite the several measures fashioned by the government and its agencies, there do not seem any end in sight in the conflicts, if anything; there seem to be a steady rise in the activities of the various militia groups. The reason for this may be a bit contentious, but with all intent and purpose, one can say that some of the measures taken have been too elitist in approach and design. To this extent, majority of the people (masses) are excluded in the process of peace building. It is in this regard that the medium of theatre is being advocated as a tool in conflict resolution and management.

In the so called era of globalization and global village, it is anachronistic to talk about nationalism, autonomy, and development. Punditries have declared the end of history. Development is passé and autonomy is out-dated… Politicians talk about win and win situations, not winners and looser…. Nationalism becomes cultural relativism at best, or fundamentalism at worst. While autonomy is a pipe dream, all fads have their days (Shivji, 2009:117).

The principles of democracy are generally known and universally acceptable. Yet their precise application very much depends on the historical context of the country and the people concerned. A set of principles is one thing and its application is another. There is no universally acceptable model of democracy though there are universally recognized principles of democracy… there are certain unavoidable implications in working democracies. They produce winners and losers. And each one of these has obligation to make the system work (Mohiddin, 2009:171).    

                The above two quotations suggests that globalization, democracy and development form a vicious circle. These suggestions imply that in application, democracy is driven in the globalized world with capitalism at its fulcrum. Largely, this interaction depends on the history of a specific country and people. Thus different nations resort to varying methods to nurture their democracy.

                Most countries in the third world including Nigeria sought to be seen as democratic. The reason for this is in two folds. On the one hand, democracy has attained such a height that to be democratic is a  condition for membership to  international organization like IMF, world Bank, UN and WTO while on the other hand, financial assistance from the global North to South like  borrowing, foreign aid, grants and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)  insists that receiving countries must be democratic..

Remarkably, ethnic differences are often exploited in Africa for various purposes ranging from political power to wealth. Igwe (2003:143) rightly noted that:

Worldwide, the most acute problems of ethnicity are still in Africa where poverty, corrupt and incompetent leadership, the colonial heritage and possibly religion had created terrible civil wars in Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, and many other states including even pogroms, genocide, ethnic cleansing and on almost endless bitterness sometimes leading to succession calls for ethnic self-determination sovereign National conference political restructuring and a like.   Again, Section 14, subsection 3 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria States that:

The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic of other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies. Following the 1967/70 civil war in Nigeria, successive governments in Nigeria has continued to search for peaceful coexistence of the various ethnic groups in Nigeria and achieve integrated national development. In this search, the 1979 Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) reported that  inter- ethnic rivalries in Nigeria between one ethnic group or combination of ethic groups and others are   struggles to secure the domination of government at the exclusion of others. The committee submitted that it is essential to have some provision to ensure that the predominance of persons from a few states or from few ethnic groups is avoided in the composition of government or the appointment or election of persons to high offices in the Nigerian state (CDC, 1979: viii). Nigeria adopted the federal character principle to counteract the national question issue. This paper therefore explores the extent of  application of the federal character principle to solving national question in Nigeria.

1.2 PROBLEM OF THE STUDY

The consequent entrenchment of powerful and centralised institutions of governance in Niger Delta communities has continued to threaten the existential essence of man in his local and national environment. The Igbo were originally free from such centralized and despotic institutions of governance.
   However, to facilitate governance in Niger Delta communities where kingship institutions were few, or to achieve uniformity with the rest of the country, the colonial masters created the "warrant chiefs" with the ordinance of 1916. With the attainment of independence, the warrant chiefs became anachronistic and irrelevant. Perhaps to achieve the same objective as the colonial masters, the military government in 1978 created autonomous communities and decreed that each community be placed under a traditional ruler (Eze or Obi in some areas). The proliferation of kingship institution was thus engineered in an area of Nigeria where the predominant political organization was the "democratic village republic" in which the traditional local institution for governance has been the town union. The situation now is that there exists in most communities in Niger Delta communities two dominant institutions for governance - the town union which is at the apex of the system of unions/assemblies that are part of the democratic village republic and the Eze Institution fostered by the government.
The problem is that social conflict situations have arisen in many communities. There is social conflict over the relationship between the town union (or its president) and the Eze. There is social conflict over accession and succession to the Eze stool, which has tended to destabilize the town union. There is also social conflict over the Eze's area of jurisdiction and the town unions' area of jurisdiction. The gravity of the situation is perhaps evidenced by the numerous litigations on these matters pending in law courts all over Niger Delta communities.

 

     The high rate book haram brought about income inequality, poverty among all but the very top few, lawlessness / selectively lawed, unemployment, poor education system, bastardised healthcare system, and medieval infrastructure have culminated in unlashing a level of hardship and human suffering that have forced many to seek divine intervention through churches and mosques.

Largely, the victims have been the hapless, defenceless common folk, and it is difficult to understand how their deaths could help whatever cause the  Boko Haram sect have been pursuing. Finally, “Boko Haram” is also a cover for criminal activity and political thuggery of all sorts. Anything that turns violent can be blamed on the Islamist movement, whether it has a link to it or not. It is a perfect alibi, one that prevents further questioning. Bank robbery? Boko Haram. Attack on political opponents? Boko Haram.

As such, the name is ceasing to have any meaning at all: Boko Haram is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

The hype in much of the Nigerian media also contributes to the problem, as many media outlets chasing sales seem all too willing to fall for unsubstantiated rumour and outright lies proffered by political trouble-makers -- or by nobody at all. Of course, some international media reporting has also been more scare-mongering than substance, presenting this as a new terrorist threat to the West, when it is fundamentally a Nigerian issue.

The Boko Haram phenomenon, in all its threads, has captured the imagination of the entire nation, filling newspaper pages and air time with fear and misinformation that reaffirms everyone’s core understanding of their deeply dysfunctional state: Nigeria is broken and headed toward the brink.

It is hard to imagine a state that is so much a part of the problem effectively dealing with it. Still, the dozens of security experts, academics and journalists I met with all agreed on the basic elements to address the four interlocking parts of the Boko Haram phenomenon.

     The criminal side of everything claiming to be, or claimed to be, Boko Haram needs to be handled as criminal cases. This requires a non-rapacious police force and independent judiciary. Every aspect of the police needs reforming: recruitment, training and management. With the reputation of the police at rock bottom, even practical intelligence gathering within the community is extremely difficult in the absence of trust. The PDP government is making the country very difficult to stabilise with its rigging pattern.

      One of the key lessons of the current Boko Haram trouble is that there can never be peace in a society where majority are hungry and the minority keep on enjoying all the luxurious things of life.

1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

1. To examine effectiveness of federalism and democracy to foster national unity and security which can also build  the stability of the federation and sustainable development.

2. To arrest degeneration, ethno-religious anomalies e.g insecurity and conflict  must be strategically managed in order to sustain peace and development in Nigeria and the country’s democratic governance.

3. To evaluate the causes of  conflicts and national integration in Nigeria especially in Niger Delta region.

4. To achieve political stability of the country through nation integration.

5. To reduce the challenges and insecurity consciousness in Nigeria through national integration in Niger Delta region.

6. To forter national  unity and oneness through regional and  ethnic integration.

7. To proffer solution to proper management of conflicts in Nigeria especially in Niger Delta region.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION

1. Can one  examine effectiveness of federalism and democracy to foster national unity and security which can also build  the stability of the federation and sustainable development?

2. Is it possible to arrest degeneration, ethno-religious anomalies e.g insecurity and conflict  must be strategically managed in order to sustain peace and development in Nigeria and the country’s democratic governance?

3. What are the causes of  conflicts and national integration in Nigeria especially in Niger Delta region?

4. Can political stability in Nigeria be achieved through nation integration?

5. Can this study reduce the challenges and insecurity consciousness in Nigeria through national integration in Niger Delta region?

6. What are the solution to proper management of conflicts in Nigeria especially in Niger Delta region?

 

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

H0: One cannot examine effectiveness of federalism and democracy to foster national unity and security which can also build  the stability of the federation and sustainable development.

H1: One can examine effectiveness of federalism and democracy to foster national unity and security which can also build  the stability of the federation and sustainable development.

H0: It is impossible to arrest degeneration, ethno-religious anomalies e.g insecurity and conflict  must be strategically managed in order to sustain peace and development in Nigeria and the country’s democratic governance.

H1: It is possible to arrest degeneration, ethno-religious anomalies e.g insecurity and conflict  must be strategically managed in order to sustain peace and development in Nigeria and the country’s democratic governance.

H0: There are no causes of  conflicts and national integration in Nigeria especially in Niger Delta region.

H1: There are  causes of  conflicts and national integration in Nigeria especially in Niger Delta region.

 

H0: Political stability in Nigeria cannot be achieved through nation integration.

H1: Political stability in Nigeria can be achieved through nation integration.

H0: This study cannot reduce the challenges and insecurity consciousness in Nigeria through national integration in Niger Delta region.

H1: This study can reduce the challenges and insecurity consciousness in Nigeria through national integration in Niger Delta region.

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

        This research work  expiores the power struggle, poverty and  terriorism : examining the emergency menace of conflicts in Nigeria  is beneficial to Ombudsman, public administrative structures of these accountability institutions within is relevant to a select group of developing and developed countries, Practitioners as well as students of political science, public administration,  administrative law, public policy decision makers and all other stakeholders engaged in the design and execution of public policy will find this project most valuable.”

 1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study is centered on conflict and national integration in Nigeria (a critical analysis of Niger Delta region 2000-2007.

1.8   LIMITATION OF STUDY

Despite the limited scope of this study certain constraints were encountered during the research of this project.  Some of the constraints experienced by the researcher were given below:

i.      TIME: This was a major constraint on the researcher during the period of the work. Considering the limited time given for this study, there was not much time to give this research the needed attention.

ii.     FINANCE: Owing to the financial difficulty prevalent in the country and it’s resultant prices of commodities, transportation fares, research materials etc. The researcher did not find it easy meeting all his financial obligations.

iii.    INFORMATION CONSTRAINTS: Nigerian researchers have never had it easy when it comes to obtaining necessary information relevant to their area of study from private business organization and even government agencies.  People in Niger Delta region find it difficult to reveal their internal operations. The primary information was collected through face-to-face interview getting the published materials on this topic meant going from one library to other which was not easy.

Although these problems placed limitations on the study,  but it did not prevent the researcher from carrying out a detailed and comprehensive research work on the subject matter.

 

1.9  DEFINITION OF TERMS

CONFLICT:   This could be described as a situation or condition of disharmony in an interactional process. Conflict also is when two or more values, perspectives and opinions are contradictory in nature and haven’t been aligned or agreed about yet.

Ethnicity: Ethnicity as a concept is relatively new which can be seen as an intricate phenomenon that describes different perceptions.

According to Osaghae (1992), ethnicity refers to a social formation resting upon culturally specific practices and a unique set

of symbols and cosmology. Ethnicity denotes a group of individuals who consider themselves, or are considered by others, to

share common characteristics which differentiate them from other collectivities within a society.

Political Stability: This means a firmly fixed, needed and desired policies for growth and development or the

policy.

ii.     Free and Fair Election: This refers to the absence of violence in the election stations or polls, the country of votes in the polls immediately after voting and in the presence of both and electoral officer, the representatives of the contestants and also the law enforcement officers, ensuring that the names of all eligible voters are included in the register of voters and also allowed to exercise their franchise no the election day.

iii.    Culture: This refers to arts, social, institutions and belief of a particular group or people.

iv.    Culture Organisation: This refers to an organised group of people who share the same arts, customs and common beliefs together.

v.     Sponsorship: This refers to the advancing money to candidates with which to run the election directly or indirectly and also giving out gift to electorates so as to persuade them to vote for a particular candidates. And also giving their candidates advise on how to campaign and lobby for votes and support from the people.

vi.    Election Outcome: This means the relationship between the political parties and the objectives they aim at.

vi.    Ezinihitte Mbaise League Association: This is a cultural organisation in Ezinihitte Mbaise local government area of Isu local govt in Imo State through which they unite themselves together so as to see to the improvement of the area.

vii.       Old Politicians: This refers to those politicians who does not any longer come out directly to struggle for power still have the influential power in politics.

viii.     Governance: According to Oxford Advancer learners Dictionary it defines governance as the activity of governing a country or controlling a company or an organisation, the way in which a country is governed or a company or instrument is controlled.

Power Struggles: Power struggles refer to people in a relationship fighting about who is in control, with both trying to dominate the relationship in one way or another. In many cases, relationship therapy and coaching can be very beneficial for couples dealing with all the negatives that come with power struggles.

Terrorism: this is the systematic use of terror, often violent, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no legally binding, criminal law definition.[1][2] Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians). Some definitions now include acts of unlawful violence and war. The use of similar tactics by criminal96 organizations for protection rackets or to enforce a code of silence is usually not labeled terrorism though these same actions may be labeled terrorism when done by a politically motivated group. Perhaps,[3] it is less oppressive in itself than through the effects of the precautions taken to protect its likely victims.[4]

The word "terrorism" is politically and emotionally charged,[5] and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. Studies have found over 100 definitions of “terrorism”.[6][7] The concept of terrorism may itself be controversial as it is often used by state authorities (and individuals with access to state support) to delegitimize political or other opponents,[8] and potentially legitimize the state's own use of armed force against opponents (such use of force may itself be described as "terror" by opponents of the state).[8][9]

Terrorism has been practiced by a broad array of political organizations for furthering their objectives. It has been practiced by both right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments.[10] An abiding characteristic is the indiscriminate use of violence against noncombatants for the purpose of gaining publicity for a group, cause, or individual. The symbolism of terrorism can leverage human fear to help achieve these goals. [11]

Conflicts : Conflicts mean different things to different people. For instance, the Chinese see conflicts in a positive direction. In their language, conflicts mean ‘an opportunity or danger’ (Nweke, 2003:2). It is the degree of response to conflict that determines how it turns out. One’s background, attributes, perceptions and environment, among other things, influence the degree of responses to conflicts.  In his own definition, Ihejirika (2001) opines that what usually comes to people’s mind pictures when they hear of conflicts is war, fighting misunderstanding, arguments, anarchy, stress, crisis, aggression and so on between individuals, groups, communities, nations or states. Ihejirika observes that people with negative connotations of conflicts tend to handle them in a destructive manner with negative effects.

 

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