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ETHNIC CONFLICTS AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE MANAGEMENT ON THE PLATEAU.


Project topic for Peace Studies department

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY

Ethnic politics, as well as religious relations, have had a primarily direct influence on the internal conflict inherent in Plateau State, a state that serves as a peaceful domicile to a significant number of ethnic and religious groups. The reoccurring violence is a bottleneck for the growth and development of the state and her inhabitants, therefore requiring an effective application of conflict management and methods for peace resolution in order to tackle this cankerworm head-long, with the resolve of restoring peaceful and tolerant cohabitation in the state.

Plateau State, known and revered for her unshakable calm, climate, harmony and hospitability; a hotbed of northern Nigerian Christianity plus a growing Islamic presence and Hausa-Fulani ownership claims that has developed into a growing diversity of religious and   ethnic undertone, fuelling a political disparity which has in turn metamorphosed into an internal crises situation which has led to the crippling of socio-economic activities in the state.

This literature pays attention to the root causes and hushed underpinning of the crises on the Plateau with emphasis on the possibilities of a lasting solution through conflict management and peace resolution.

It is important to point out that the dysfunctional conflict in the state in terms of persistence dates back to the early 1990s, with the Jos riot of April 12, 1994 over the naming of a Hausa-Fulani candidate as caretaker committee Chairman of Jos-North Local Government Authority and the subsequent rejection and disapproval of that appointment by the indigenes, basically the Afizere, Anaguta and Berom. This conflict was seemingly an age-long culmination of struggles between the indigenes and the Hausa-Fulani ethnic groups for relative control of Jos-North Local Government Area. (Pam, 2005).

It was the Babangida Administration that created the Jos-North Local Government out of the Jos Local Government Area, with boundaries suspected by the indigenes as designed to give the Hausa-Fulani a permanent hold of the Local Government. (Pam, 2005). This came as a long awaited answer to the age-long appeal for political space which they could thoroughly identify with. Indigenous resistance and protest against this creation, as well as the painstaking efforts to reverse such a creation resulted in nothing but counter-productive outcomes. The riot of 1994 thereby became an outlet for the pent-up tension over the politics; a vent for the frustration as generated on both sides of the conflict divide.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM

The peculiarity of the Jos crisis problem is hinged on its intensity, reoccurrence, light-handedness, inflammatory media reportage and the divisive national sentiments predicated along religious and ethnic lines; aggravated by a mammoth scale of poverty, propaganda, economic crunch, unemployed youths, etc. A gory tear in the fabric of the society, all tantamount to a struggle for scarce resources while resulting in political rivalry and religious bigotry. The conflict problem in the state appears to have no definite antidote despite the bulk    of expert diagnosis proffered. In spite of the multifarious panels set up by the state and Federal Government to solve the conundrum behind the uneventful carnage, apparently little or nothing seems to have been placed at the public domain. A yawning void in the earnest search for peace resulted from Government’s light-handedness and reluctance to act with dispassionateness, wit, courage, efficacy and equanimity.

A plethora of controversies have disgracefully emanated from the peaceful enforcement processes of the security forces on ground in the state. The general loss of trust and confidence in security personnel became more evident in the bias expressed through alleged extra-judicial killings.

Another problem or source of concern is the wrangling between the State and Local Government, together with the inability of Government to implement or execute reports of previous panels of investigation or the lack of prosecution of the perpetrators. The claim of the grotesque involvement of a number of fake military personnel in the injustice is a critical dimension that needs illumination.

This raises the following questions:

- What is the texture or real nature of the conflict on the Plateau?

- What is its relationship with and in respect to National Unity and Social Security to the generality of Nigeria and Nigerians?

- What are the challenges in respect of management of the conflict?

- Who are the real indigenes and settlers in the present context of Nigeria?

- What are the indigene and settler issues in Plateau State?

- What effective and efficient strategies can be put in place to overcome the indigene-settler issue in Plateau State?

1.3 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH QUESTION

The research will endeavour to seek answers to the following questions:

- What historical development metamorphosed into the conflict situation so as witnessed on the Plateau?

- What are the remote and current causes of the conflict on the Plateau?

- What were the previous and current causes of the conflict management efforts made by the Federal and State Governments towards its amicable resolution?

- What implications do the conflict management efforts applied by the “mediator actors” have on National integration and unity?

- What recommendations and implication strategies can be proffered for the management of conflicts on the Plateau?

1.4 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

The specific objectives of this literature include the intention to:

- Examine the historical development leading to the emergence of the conflict situation on the Plateau.

- Identify the root causes of these conflicts.

- Highlight the previous and current conflict management methodologies employed by the State and Federal Government towards lasting peace and reconciliation.

- Provide a general assessment of the implications of the endless upheaval on National Unity and Social Security.

- Provide possible missing pieces of effective conflict management on the Jos crisis by way of recommendations.

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The significance of this study is to make little yet important contributions to the resolution and management of the indigene-settler conflicts in Plateau State in particular and Nigeria in general. This will be useful to government and policy makers in the security sub-sector in its management of indigene-settler conflicts in Nigeria. The study will also contribute to the body of knowledge in the area of conflict management in Nigeria by serving as a concise but useful reference source to other researchers in related fields, scholars, students, etc

The ultimate goal of the study is essentially to ensure that Plateau State, the home of peace and tourism, overcomes its challenges through the full restoration of peace and unity in the State. It will also go on to enrich existing literature on the crises and provide a study guide to stakeholders, particularly the Government which is saddled with the responsibility of seeking lasting solution to the protracted crisis.

This study will seemingly aid Government, including Federal, State and Local Government in effective and efficient policy formulation and implementation.

The information or solution by way of recommendations proffered here-in will equally be of benefit to security agencies whose role in the crisis is assumed to have gone beyond their rules of engagement.

1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The scope of the study is the city of Jos, and although the mayhem dates back to the riots of 12th April, 1994, this study will specifically concentrate on the period of between 2011 – 2010, which marks a decade of unprecedented democratic rule.

In summary the scope is Jos, while the limitation is the conflicts in Jos, between 2001 -2010.

1.7 DEFINITION OF KEY CONCEPTS

The following terms are applicable to the study:

CONFLICT: Daura (2009) defines conflict as “an incidence of hostility, which occurs as a result of irreconcilable differences or competition between at least two parties or a confrontation between individuals or groups”.

According to Coser (1999) “it is a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponent are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals… such conflict may take place between individuals and collectives; inter group as well as intra-group conflicts are perennial features of social life”. In this sense, conflict may be conceptualized as a way of setting problems originating from opposing interests and from the continuity of society. Thus Park and Burgess (1997:574) argue that “Conflict is designed to resolve divergent dualism and achieve some kind of unity even if it is through annihilation of one of the conflicting parties”. Conflict may therefore not be regarded only in a negative light of dysfunctional or disjunctive process and a breakdown of communication as some scholars tend to suggest (e.g. Lundberg, 1994:275).

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: Wilmot and Hocker (1998:489) defined conflict management as “an aspect of conflict resolution”. This refers to the process of reducing negative and destructive capacity of conflict through a number of measures and by working with and through the parties involved in that conflict. It encompasses conflict   limitation, containment and litigation. Best (2006).

Conflict management can also involve the mobilization of cultural expectations, if not imperative such as African hospitality, commensality and reciprocity and belief system (Uchendu and Anigbo, 1998)

Indigenous African system of conflict management may have even stronger potency of handling conflict with more lasting effects than modern ones. Both adjudication and mediation reduce protracted conflicts and enhance everyone’s satisfaction with the decision. They also reduce the re-occurrence of conflicts, as in modern westernized situations. (Wilmot and Hocker, 1998: 249)

VIOLENT CONFLICT: Violent conflict is used to describe the social conflicts resulting from violent confrontations in view of social unrests. Violent conflicts are security breaches, which can be internally or externally motivated. Daura (2009).

CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Miller (2003) defined conflict resolution as “a variety of approaches aimed at terminating conflict, through the constructive solving of problems, distinct from management or transformation of conflict”. The process requires t hat the root causes of the conflict are addressed to ensure that the behaviour   is no longer violent or hostile.

Conflict resolution in plural societies can be quite complex principally because of the detrimental effects of culture and language symbolism. Hence, Avrush and Black (1993) point out that “it is quite dangerous to relegate culture to the background in conflict resolution. Although conflict is a matter of social differences, it should not be regarded as an obstacle to conflict resolution in multi-ethnic/ Multi-cultural societies. Perceiving conflict through divergent cultural lenses is natural. People interpret social action and social reality through indigenous theories of conflict and essential t o their solution. Avrush and Black (1993:132).

VIOLENCE: Schmid (1998) cited in Alemika (2004) refers to violence as “direct physical hurt to someone’s bodily integrity (violation as in torture, rape, mutilation, belittling) and ultimately life itself (killing)”.

CRISIS: This is a moment of serious danger and suspense in the relations between the affected parties. It denotes “A breaking point in a phenomenon, a process or an episode. It is a stage, point or period in a sequence of events or episodes, at which change occurs and an old system undergoes flux and instability. Thus it is a sudden deterioration of  normality, an escalation of the conflict situation characterized by the break down of  law and order, the inadequacy, failure or total absence of the society’s social control mechanisms and process, such as when policing fail to work, when existing leadership becomes ineffective and society generally gravitates towards anarchy and anomie. In crisis situations, structured and patterned, predictive and cooperative behaviour are absent and normal rules and regulations, routine expectations break-down, social behaviour is unpredictable, norms lack definition and clarity or are characterized by extreme ambiguity with confusion all around.”Muhammad-Baba (2011)

Thus Best (2006:110) painted a crisis situation to denote a “degenerated state of conflict where threat to human security, characterized by fighting, death, injury, large-scale displacement of populations occur.”

CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION: Otite (1999:10-11) describes conflict transformation as “a situation  with potential for developing constructive dialogue, cultures and practices of tolerance, negotiations, trading and rebranding of interest, in the process of changing the nature and intensity of conflict”.

ETHNINC CONFLICT: According to Ela (1999), two facets of ethnic conflicts exist in Africa. Those are “conflict structure” and “conflict situation”. Conflict structure consists of indicators of the existence of dispositions which have tendencies to conflict such as slave and master, proletariat and bourgeois, etc. while conflict situations consist of opposing powers, the activities of the opposing tendencies such as when the slave becomes aware of equality of all men and the evils of slavery associated with exploitation; likewise the master becomes aware to guide and protect their interest. Those two tendencies make and prepare the enabling conditions for conflict situation in the society and ethnic conflict is bound to take these dimensions.


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