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CONFLICT AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN NIGER DELTA REGION: AN IMPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY
This research work is based on conflict and conflict management in Niger Delta region: implications for educational productivity using practical situations to investigate if really education can be productive in regions associated with persistent crisis. Moreover, it sought to highlight some of the problems the people of Niger- Delta region have suffered as a result of the crisis, to find out why the conflicts have persisted and the ways by which these conflicts can be managed or controlled for there to be educational development in the Niger- Delta region.
Data were collected from the administration of questionnaire, oral interview and group discussion used for literate adults, illiterate adults and local gatherings of Niger Delta adults respectively.
Findings revealed that the crisis in the Niger-Delta region has tremendous negative effects on the economic, social, political and overall development of the area. Furthermore, it was shown that there is a falling standard of education in the region. In addition, it was discovered that lack of employment opportunity, illiteracy and the poor and unhealthy living conditions of the Niger Deltans have promoted the conflicts in the region. Moreover, it was revealed that all round development in the Niger Delta region will help promote peace and stability.
Finally, recommendations were given in an attempt to proffer solutions to the persistent conflicts in the Niger- Delta region.
1.0 INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Conflict is part of human existence when there is need for social change, but the conflicts that breed unhealthy killings, deprivation and affects social security is inhuman and should be resisted and rejected.
With a population of about 140 million and more than 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation.
The Niger-Delta region is a network of creeks, lagoons, and mangrove swamp forests with deposits of hydrocarbons. It is estimated that about 2.5 million barrels of crude oil is produced daily from Niger-Delta region. This productivity level puts Nigeria as Africa’s largest oil producer and sixth largest in the world. In addition, these findings and production contribute to make Niger-Delta responsible for almost 95% of Nigeria foreign exchange earnings and 90% of it’s revenue (CBN, Annual report 2003). Invariably, Niger-Delta is very important and strategic to Nigeria and the international community.
Initially, Niger-Delta region comprised only six states of Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states spread across the coastal fringes of Nigeria. Today, the term Niger-Delta region has come to symbolize all the states producing crude oil with Abia, Imo and Ondo states added to the previous six.
Due to the complexity and multifaceted nature of the situation of the oil-producing communities in Nigeria, it is more apt to describe it as one with “crisis within crisis”. Inter and intra community relations in the Niger-Delta have, of recent, been characterized by a high level of conflict and violence. Beginning in December 1992, the conflict between Ogonis and the oil infrastructure escalated to a level of greater seriousness and intensity on both sides. Military repression escalated in May 1994. On May 21, Soldiers and mobile policemen appeared in most Ogoni villages. On that day, four Ogoni chiefs (all on the conservative side of schism within MOSOP over strategy) were brutally murdered. In May 1994, nine activists from the movement which would become known as ‘The Ogoni Nine’ among them Ken Saro-Wiwa, were arrested and accused of incitement to murder following the death of four Ogoni elders. Saro-Wiwa and his comrades denied the charges, but were imprisoned for over a year before being found guilty and sentenced to death by a specially convened tribunal, hand-selected by General Sani Abacha, 10thNovember, 1995. The activists were denied due process and upon being found guilty, were executed through hanging by the Nigerian state.
The Warri ethnic war between the Ijaws and Itsekiris which started in March 1997 claimed hundreds of lives, violence and conflict have also been reported between the Urhobos and the Itsekiris, and between different Isoko communities in Delta state different Ijaw communities in Bayelsa state. The Ogonis have also clashed with the Andonis while the Ijaws have clashed with the Yoruba communities in Ondo state. Inter community violence has also been reported in Akwa Ibom State. The level of hatred and suspicion among the different communities in the Niger-Delta has thus been on the increase since about 1990 onwards. In an article titled “The coming war in the Delta”, Ken-Saro Wiwa (1990) had indeed forewarned about the festering of inter-communal conflicts in the Niger-Delta area. As he put it then:
…..About three weeks the smouldering war in the Delta claimed its first lives, six dead I, twenty injured. I had foreseen it way back in 1988, and given ample warning. I fear that war is to come if action is not taken promptly to diffuse the situation…. I must warn the Delta communities to abjure violence in the just struggle for their rights…
The ‘worse is to come’ that Saro-Wiwa warned about has not only indeed arrived, it has deteriorated to a situation where the various communities in Niger-Delta are characterized by tension, violence, mistrust and attempts by each community to demonstrate that it is first among the exploited and despoiled victims of the Niger-Delta.
While drawing attention to the increase in the level of inter and intra community violence, it needs to be emphasized that the relationship between the communities in the Niger-Delta was characterized by conflict.
The researcher is interested in investigating the conflicts in the Niger Delta region and see how the conflicts in the Niger-Delta areas can be effectively managed by the eradication of the problems faced by the people in the zone.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
The people of Niger-Delta region have suffered gross social and economic infrastructure neglect, poverty, frustrations, ecological catastrophes and other deprivations despite their contributions to the Nigeria prosperity. It is important to note that the persistent crisis in the Niger-Delta region has affected educational productivity to a great extent. Conflict puts the vulnerable children at terrible risk. It can displace children, destroy schools and break down educational system. Without intervention, children can be denied access to good and safe education. Good education rarely survives major conflicts as seen in the Niger-Delta region. Students and teachers often have to flee as school buildings are destroyed or taken over by armed forces, essential education financial resources get diverted towards military action, teachers’ salaries are diverted and materials stop reaching the schools. In the Niger-Delta region, conflict has forced many families to flee their homes, and end up living in temporary accommodation where there is no access to schools. The constant movement creates problems for education making it impossible to establish schools. As the conflict continues, the hope of going to school fades, and the need for educational development slows down as attention is shifted on how to resolve the conflict. This study is designed to investigate the implications of conflict on the educational productivity in Niger-Delta.
1.2 PURPOSE OF STUDY
This study centred on the implications of conflict on the educational productivity in the Niger-Delta regions. Although, there are many reasons and counter ones for these conflicts, the investigator showed the root cause of the problems and how to effectively curb the problems of the inhuman activities occurring in the zone. This study found out if such conflicts are necessary. Therefore, the study examined:
1 The reasons for conflicts and the effects on the educational productivity in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.
2 The ways by-which these conflicts can be managed or controlled for there to be educational development in the Niger-Delta region.
3 The role of education in reducing the persistent conflicts in the Niger-Delta region.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were answered during the course of the study:
1 Are socio-economic and cultural factors responsible for the conflict in the Niger-Delta region?
2 Is political factor the reason for the conflict in the Niger-Delta region?
3 Is attitudinal factor the reason for the conflict in the Niger-Delta region?
4 Has conflict affected the educational programmes of students in the Niger-Delta region?
5 Is provision of employment in the Niger-Delta region a solution?
6 Is dialogue among factional leaders a solution to the Niger-Delta conflict?
7 Is rehabilitation of families of the areas in Niger-Delta a solution?
8 Can education help in reducing the persistent conflict in the Niger-Delta region?
1.4 THE HYPOTHESES
The following hypotheses were used for the study to corrobate the findings of the research questions thus:
1 Socio-economic and cultural factors have no significant effect on the Niger-Delta conflicts.
2 Conflict has no significant effect on the educational programmes of students in the Niger Delta region.
3 Provision of employment has no significant effect on the management of conflicts in the Niger-Delta region.
4 Dialogue among factional leaders has no significant effect on the Niger-Delta conflicts.
5 Education has no significant effect in managing the conflicts in the Niger-delta.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Since this study centred on the implications of conflicts on the educational productivity in the Niger-Delta region, it’s findings will help enlighten the society on the effects of conflict on educational development and what to be done so as to manage the situation in order for there to be development in the society at large.
This study will help awaken in the government the need to critically look into the plight of the Niger-Delta people. Furthermore, this study will intimate and alert the Niger-Delta people that conflict is not good for educational productivity and development of the area, as well as provide useful information for those who wish to research into this field of study.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is limited to only the Niger-Delta indigenes, the ‘youths and adults’ such as parents, married and singles alike resident in Niger-Delta region.
1.7 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The following theories were used in the course of this study.
Human Needs Theory
Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1954), was noted with the hierarchy of needs in which he categorized human needs according to their order of urgency as follows: physiological needs; safety needs; aesthetic needs and self actualization needs. He believed that all people are driven by the desire to attain fundamental human needs. But conflict theorist like Herbert Kelman and John Burton adopted Maslow’s ideas to conflict theory when they ascertained and suggested that these needs underlie many deep-rooted and intractable conflicts. A denial of one or more of these essential human needs will, therefore, result in conflict and the affected victims will however; fight indefinitely to ensure the achievement of and attainment of the needs.
It is however imperative for society to adjust to the needs of people and not the other way round. Burton (2006), said ethnic minorities must be given an autonomous status if violence is to be avoided; decision-making systems must be non-adversarial if leadership roles are to be collaborative
It must be noted that there is a distinction between individual interest and human needs. Man is noted to be aggressive in the pursuit of material (physical) acquisition, which gives room for conflict as a result of the costs involved. Due to this, there is the introduction of the necessary legal and bargaining institutions and established processes. There are however, non-material needs that do evoke aggression whenever there is injustice and these include needs of recognition and identity. There is no form of bargaining or compromise as found with the material acquisition that is possible with respect to the human needs. For example, what kind of compensation is to be paid in return for youths that are unemployed in a given area, knowing fully well that if they are employed, they will be able to meet some of their personal needs? The non-provision of employment however, does lead the youths into getting involved in anti-social behaviours that are destructive.
According to the structural theory, further insight into the interplay between people, power, structure and resource exploitation and degradation in the Niger-Delta could be gained by employing the theory of structuration. Its major benefit is that it reveals the dynamics of forces in relation to the individual. The theory of structuration is a complete view of society by Anthony Giddens (1979, 1981, 1992, 1984; Chokor1988). It analyses society and social relations in terms of:
1 Social system;
3 Agency; and
A social system is composed of reproduced relations between actors that may be individuals, groups, companies or collectives. Relations are created through organized rules or social practices. Structures are seen as recursively organized rules and resources which people draw on and reconstitute in day-to-day activities, which enables a system to function. Agency concept relates to the role of the individual within the society, especially in the use of structure. There is duality in the structure in the sense that it is both enabling and constraining. Thus the individual agent may as a result of unbalanced distribution of power in society, be limited in expressing and attaining goals. For example, the goals of owning and controlling oil resources are both hampered by federal laws and legal sanctions but at the same time, people individually or collectively are not entirely helpless and could modify structures in the social system by seeking to recognize the rules (e.g. current and past agitation over the Niger-Delta issues led to the revision of 3% derivation to 13% as provided for in the 1999 constitution). Space-time on the other hand, simply demonstrates the fact that actions and decisions have space-time associations, demonstrating the need to take seriously the influence of space and time on human relationships. The Niger-Delta, for example, has a terrain which local people have mastered over time, enhancing thus their capacity to modify structures by using them to their own advantage in the process of negotiating social relations and in resisting unfavourable external interventions.
Conflict Transformation Theory
The proponent of the theory is Lederach (1995). The theory assumes that conflict is caused by real problems of inequality and injustice. This inequality and injustice is however, expressed by competing social, cultural and economic frameworks where allocation of resources is often not enough to satisfy all involved (George, 2000; Solomon and Mngqibisa, 2000). Conflict transformation arises as an alternative to paradigm of conflict resolution. So, it seeks to address questions usually neglected by conflict resolution experts such as structural culture and cultural identity and the role individuals can play in diminishing the intensity and duration of conflict (Miall, Ramsbotham and Woodhouse, 1999).
Lederach (1995) and Rupesinghe (1995) affirmed that conflict transformation emphasizes a multi-track approach in which it recognizes the need to involve multitude of actors in a number of roles, in order to establish long lasting peace. The main goals of the theory include: to change structure and frameworks that cause inequality and injustice, to improve longer term relationships and attitudes among the conflicting parties, and also develop processes and systems that promote employment, justice, peace, forgiveness reconciliation and recognition. The theory additionally makes possible to address the complexity of the conflict. Conflict transformation theory recognizes the need to transform the conflict at a number of levels as identified by Varynen (1991), thus: context transformation, structural transformation, actor transformation, issue transformation and individual and group transformation. This theory further gives recognition to the different roles that grassroot actors perform or contribute to the process of conflict transformation. The grassroot actors are believed to play a fundamental role in the process of reconciliation and the promotion of peace. It is these grassroot organizations that are responsible for the initiation of reconstruction of properties that are damaged, holding prayer meetings and vigils, holding commissions, organization of festivals of culture and art, promotion of contacts amongst parties to the conflict and even assesses the needs of the community. In carrying out the above, there is the need to have an evaluation of the underlying assumptions of cultural differences, foster an environment that encourages forgiveness and equality, and provision of forum for communication.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following terms have been operational defined as they were used during the course of study.
1 Conflict: Conflict is a situation in which people, groups or countries are involved in a serious disagreement and argument. It is also the argument related to the Political, Religious, Judicial, Economy and other spheres of the society.
2 Education: This is a formal process of teaching and learning usually at school, college or university.
3 Conflict Management: It means the various ways to bring to an end the raging war or dispute among warring factions such as groups, society, states or even nations.
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