THE ROLE OF TRADITIONAL RULERS IN CONFLICT PREVENTION AND MEDIATION IN KADUNA NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT
1.1 Background to the Study
In the traditional African society, conflict may generally exist whenever or wherever incompatible events occurred and may result in “win- lose character”.
The resolution, transformation and management of conflict may however produce win-win situation too. Truth is a covenant logo that disputants or parties in conflict must not miss. In contemporary African society, nobody cares about the truth. If Africans have to put the falling apart together, her original values must be revisited. Conflict is as natural as the concept of peace contrary to the global or universal conception. Africans have particular ways of conceptualizing conflict. Traditional definitions of conflict regard it as “a struggle over values and claims to scare status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rival” (Onigun Otite & Albert, 2001). However, conflict may generally exist wherever or whenever incompatible activities occur and may result in “win- lose character. The resolution, transformation and management of conflict may also produce a win-win situation.
By traditional institutions, we refer to the indigenous political arrangements whereby leaders with proven track records are appointed and installed in line with the provisions of their native laws and customs ( Orji, & Olali, 2010: 402).
The essence of the institutions is to preserve the customs and traditions of the people and to manage conflicts arising among or between members of the community by the instrumentality of laws and customs of the people.
Furthermore, these institutions of traditional rulers were virtually the only institutions of governance which played critical roles such as custodians of customary law and communal assets, especially land and resources; guardians and symbols of cultural values and religious practices; dispensing justice, enforcing contracts and also resolving conflicts. The art of resolving conflict Is borne out of a belief that conflict which is inevitable could and should not be left alone, it therefore needs to be put under control by interacting with relevant parties to develop common generalization or principles and practice that would return cordial relationship against violence. During conflicts, traditional rulers therefore undoubtedly played significant roles in managing these conflicts informally and arranging peace – making meetings when matters get out of hand.
These governance institutions and structures were controlled by certain unwritten laws which formed part of the general social structure, and, its machinery of enforcing governance was well- organized to manage affairs administered justice and resolve tension in the society. During conflicts, traditional rulers therefore undoubtedly played significant roles in managing these conflicts informally and arranging peace –making meetings when matters get out of hand.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Traditional rulers are seen as the peace makers and custodian of law in the society. They are more respected by the people because of their influence, personality and belief. They are closer to the people they lead or represent, as a result people tend to obey and respect their instructions (Dalhatu, 2002).
To further make them relevant, the government has empowered them by providing them with a conducive environment, financial and material support that will encourage them to be peace ambassadors in their respective communities.
During election periods, politicians seeking electoral positions usually pay visits to traditional rulers canvassing for their endorsement, believing that they influence their people’s decision to vote (Osemeke, 2006).
It is surprising to note that with the numbers of traditional rulers in the society today; there are still many conflicts in the society which could have been prevented or managed so it doesn’t get out of hand. The question here is can we say the traditional rulers have failed in one of their most important role as peace ambassadors?
Kaduna North Local Government Area in recent times has been affected with series of electoral and post- electoral conflicts, as well as other ethno- religious conflicts which results in the loss of lives properties worth millions of naira.
Can we say that traditional rulers in Kaduna North are unaware of their roles in the prevention of and mediation of conflict, with the frequent occurrence of conflicts in this area? When leaders failed in their responsibilities as peace keepers and mediating agent in times of conflict, there are severe consequences for their followers, as any little disagreement or misunderstanding easily result in conflict that can claim lives and causes destruction of properties. This research study will look critically into the role of traditional rulers in conflict prevention and mediation in Kaduna North Local Government (Dalhatu, 2002).
1.3 Research Questions
This research study seeks to address the following research questions:
- What the causes are of conflicts especially ethno-religious conflict in Kaduna North Local Government?
- To what extent have the traditional rulers carried out their responsibilities as agents of prevention and mediation of conflicts in Kaduna North Local Government?
- How can the traditional rulers effectively carry out their role in the prevention and mediation of conflicts in Kaduna North Local Government?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this research study is to establish the role of traditional rulers in conflict prevention and mediation in Kaduna North Local Government. More specifically, the objectives of this research study are:
- To identify the various causes of conflicts in Kaduna North Local Government.
- To examine the various ways in which the traditional rulers have carried their responsibility as agent of prevention and mediation of conflicts in Kaduna North Local Government.
- To identify means by which the traditional rulers can effectively carry ou their roles in the prevention and mediation of conflicts in Kaduna North Local Government.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research study is a very significant study, because it focuses on a very sensitive and reoccurring problem. This study tries to identify and establish internal solution for the menace of conflict in the society. This research study will serve as a reference and study material to both students and academicians in the study area. The academic institution (Kaduna state university), where this research study will be submitted will also gain immensely from this research study. The research study will also be of benefit to the people of Kaduna North Local Government. By providing blueprint guidelines to enable their traditional rulers gain necessary knowledge on conflict prevention and mediation.
The government will benefit from this research study, since it will provide root information on the causes and prevention strategies of conflict in one of the flash point in the state. Stakeholders, security agencies and the general public will benefit from this research study as it will provide them additional information they seek on the menace of conflict in the local government. Finally, the researcher, will benefit from the completion of this research study because it will help him fulfill a basic requirement in his academic programme.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research study will be limited to the study area which is; Kaduna North Local Government. The study will examine the roles Kaduna North Local government traditional rulers played in preventing and mediating conflicts in situations. It will focus more on ethno-religious conflict.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The major limitation of this research study will be external validity, or the generalizability of the study. This limitation is due to constraint in data collection procedure as a result of inadequate research carried out by other researcher on the topic area. Other areas of limitation are:
- Time: Due to limited time much data and information could not be accessed.
- Finance: owing to financial constraints, the researcher was unable to cover a large sample in the area of study.
- Non-availability of relevant and adequate needed information.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Conflicts: Conflicts mean different things to different people. For instance, the Chinese see conflicts in a positive direction. In their language, conflict means ‘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 response 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.
Mediation: Mediation is an old method of conflict management surrounded by secrecy. It involves non-coercive intervention of the mediator(s), called third party either to reduce or bring conflict to peaceful settlement. Olaoba, described mediation as a method of conflict resolution that had been so critical to traditional society. The mediators usually endeavoured that peace and harmony reigned supreme in the society at whatever level of mediation. This is also usually couched with the dictum of no victor no vanquished as buttressed by the Maxim (Isurmona, 2005).
Role: This refers to the part a person or thing plays in a specific situation or operation. In this study, it is related to the expected functions that a rulers of a community plays or should play for the benefit of his subjects and community.
Traditional Institutions: By traditional institutions, we refer to the indigenous political arrangements whereby leaders with proven track records are appointed and installed in line with the provisions of their native laws and customs (Orji, and Olali, 2010:402). The essence of the institutions is to preserve the customs and traditions of the people and to manage conflicts arising among or between members of the community by the instrumentality of laws and customs of the people.
Traditional Ruler: A control authority, the reign of a monarchy and the accepted controller by the people over them in their affairs of life. In this study, it means a collectively elected person(s) selected by the community to pilot the affairs of his people in line with customs and traditions of the community