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PUBLIC RELAITONS AS A TOOL FOR CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN THE NIGER DELTA REGION. (A CASE STUDY OF NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION)
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Public relations were not generally a full-time profession until after the first world war-1914-1918. The first practitioners were the press agents of the 1900’s. During that period, public relations was not recognized as a public relations were restricted to publicity and commercial notices (Thompson 2003:39). A change in the traditional public relations practices came first in the united states when IVY L. Lee, a journalist was hired in 1906 as a publicity adviser to a private industrial establishment (a group of anthracite operators) for image creation improved workers attitude and improved cooperate and competitive policy formulation with the aim of achieving the organization’s goals. (Benton 1974:285)
Public relations become recognized as a management function.
The emergence of public relations as a management function led to further improvement on public relations tolls like public opinion, publicity, advertising propaganda press release conference etc. government agencies began to hire experienced people for publicity function in the 1920’s during that period further development of public relation’s practices was achieve public relations is the art and science of achieving harmony with the environment through mutual understanding based on truth and full information (black 1989:210). This means that public relations is a distinctive management function which helps in establishing and maintaining mutual lines of communication, understanding acceptance and cooperation between a organization and its public.
As a management function, public relations play a vital role in formulation of competitive business strategies such as cooperate planning research marketing information and other from of business intelligence geared towards the realization of the organizations goals. (Gruing 1994:33)
Organization public relations management and policy formulation came after the world war 11 (1938-1945) particularly in westEurope. After the war organized public relations penetrated into Asia, Africa andlatin Americathrough colonialism. The British west African public service for instance had the public relations department in 1945.(Omeokwe 1997:33)
Government public relations department performs various management functions. These include evaluation public attitude identification and formulation of policies and procedure for community government relations planning and execution of programmes and actions to earn public understanding and acceptance and the use of information to influence public opinion.
Social responsibility was seen by the government as a unique way of promoting peace and order in communities with natural resources. This gave rise to derivation principle after 1945. The government also adopted to use of corporate social responsibility to enhance harmony and goodwill in communities hosting multi-national oil companies like the shell-BP (Amu 1998:12)
Over the years there have been reported cases of arms conflict, oil pipeline vandalization attack on multi national oil companies and their expatriate staff some of who are either held hostage or killed in controversial circumstance and agitation for improve standard of living of the oil producing states the Niger Delta. The has led to intervention by the federal government the oil producing companies international quarters and the public on ways to solving the crisis in the Niger Delta through public relations approach.
The focus of this study therefore is to investigate the role of public relations in the management of crisis in the oil producing areas ofNigeriausing the Niger Delta development commission (NDDC) as a case study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The prevalence of crisis in the Niger Delta indicates that an adequate public relations approach has not been given to the area in the management of the crisis. Corporate social responsibility and community relations are necessary elements of harmonious co-existence. The Niger Delta constitute a unique region in the development process ofNigeriabecause 99 present of the oil economy are produced in the area. That not with standing, the area is characterized by pervasive poverty and environment degradation with lack of intrinsic development stagnation in agricultural productivity and other areas.
It appears that the government and the multi- national oil companies do not adequately discharge their social obligations to the Nigeria Delta. A proper assessment not analysis of the social and economic need of the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta using public relations approach has become necessary.
Presently, the environment and ecological problems of the Niger Delta emanating from oil exploration and exploitation is enormous. Inadequate attention to these problems by the government and the multi-national oil companies operating in the Niger Delta can cause social tensions between the local communities and oil companies on one hand and with the state and federal government on the other.
The youths out of frustration and indignation takes to violent actions. This in turn lead to general deterioration of both political and social cohesion in the region.
The military adopted an adhoc measure in addressing the problems in the Niger Delta by setting up the presidential task force under general Sani Abacha regime and later the oil mineral producing areas development commission (OMPADEC) by general Abdusalami Abubakar. The adhoc commission did not live up to their expectation necessitating the emergence of Niger Delta development commission (NDDC).
Since the establishment of the Niger Delta development commission in 1999,t he crisis in the Niger Delta has intensified. The Egbosu, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP); the Warri youths movement, Dokubo militant group among others have continued to unleash violent attacks on multi- national oil companies and oil pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta.
The focus of this study therefore, is to investigate the role of public relations in the management of the crisis in the Niger Delta using the NDDC as a case study.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of the study is to investigate the role of public relations in the management of the crisis in the Niger Delta.
SPECIFICALLY THE OBJECTIVES ARE
1) To asses the role of public relation in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta region.
2) To investigate the cause of the crisis in the Niger Delta region.
3) To identify the social responsibility of the multination companies in the area.
4) To make an appraisal of public relation’s tolls used in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta
5) To make recommendations that will bring solution to the conflict in the region
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to serve as a guide to the study:
1) What role does public relations play in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta region?
2) What are the causes of the conflict in the Niger Delta region?
3) Does the government and oil companies have any social and development obligations to the Niger Delta?
4) What public relations tools are used in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta region?
5) How can the conflict in the Niger Delta be reduced?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The following hypothesis were formulated to pilot the empirical investigation:
H0: public relations does not play a major role in the management of the
Conflict in theNigerDelta.
H1: public relations play a major role in the management of the
Conflict in theNigerDelta.
H0: Ecological degradation is not the major causes of the conflict between
The Niger Delta and the multinational oil companies.
H1: Ecological degradation is the major causes of the conflict between
The Niger Delta and the multinational oil companies.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is relevant in the following directions:
1) The study paints a vivid picture of the role of public relations in the management of conflict. Those who hold management positions in both private and public establishments are some of the beneficiaries of the study.
2) The study show how neglect emanating from environmental degradation and ecological problems can causes conflict in the Niger Delta. Environment agencies therefore stand to benefit from the findings of the study
3) The study as a veritable instrument of research material in the hands of subsequent researcher carrying out a study on the major and sub-themes of the study.
4) Public relations practitioners and scholars will also benefit from study in that it contains the management of conflicts using public relations tools
5) Government and multi-national oil companies will as well benefit from the study because it shows how planned development projects in the Niger Delta can reduce conflicts between the host communities and the oil companies in one hand and the government on the other.
6) This study also contains suggestion that could reduce the degree of conflict between the contestants in the Niger Delta.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the role of public relations in the management of conflict in the Niger Delta region between 1999 to 2005, using the Niger Delta development commission (NDDC) as a case study.
1.8 LIMIATIONS OF THE STUDY
During the research work many problems stemmed up in which some of them are:
FINANCIAL CONSTRAINT: As a student there was not enough capital to spend in transport and fact finding and borrowing of necessary literature that would have helped in the writing of this research work.
TIME CONSTRAINT: The time specified for the completion and submission of the project is considered inadequate by the researcher.
ACADEMIC WORK-LOAD: The study coincided with the period the researcher was preparing for higher national diploma (HND) examinations.
MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINT: The respondent oil not co-operate as was expected. The staff were reluctant in answering some of he questions asked.
All this problems not withstanding the researcher still made a concerted effort in giving the work a good attempt
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The technical terms used in this study are defined here for proper understanding of their meanings and applications in the study.
PUBLIC RELATIONS: As used in this study means a management function which helps to establish and maintain mutual line of communication understanding and cooperation between the Niger Delta and the government and the multi-national oil companies operating in the region.
TOOLS: With particular reference to their study means public opinion inter-personal. Communication between the Niger Delta and the government as well as with the oil companies. Tools includes propaganda advertising conference periodical films and special events organized in the Niger Delta as a means of information educating sensitizing and pleasing with the Niger Delta militant groups to cooperate with the government.
CONFLICY: Means disagreement tussle violent demonstration among contestants.
It also mans physical fighting killings thug grey pipeline vadalization attacks on multi-national oil companies in the Niger Delta.
Conflict also mans violent agitation against neglect and marginalization.
NIGER DELTA: Means the central southern part ofNigeria measuring 70,000 km forming the cruse oil belt ofNigeria.
Nigeria Delta includes Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Beyalsa Cross Rive, Delta, Edo Imo, Ondo andRiverStates.
NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMSSION (NDDC)
A commission set up by the federal government ofNigeriain 1999 for creating an enabling environment for the development of the Nigeria Delta region
MANAGEMENT: Conflict resolution using public relations approach.
Amu,C (1998) Niger Delta Oil Spillage inPort Harcourt Modern Press p.12
BentonW (1974),The New Encycolpedia Britamia Inc Edited by William
Benton London William Benton Publishers p.285
Black S(1989) Introduction to Public Relations London Modino Press Ltdp.210
Chukwu I (2000) Public Relations its Role in MarketingEnuguMilfin
Publisher p.4Eyo E (2003)NigerDelta RegionAbujaUNDP Publishers P.1
Gruming (1994)Managing public Relations 2nd Edition New York Holt Rinrhert and Winston Inc p.38
Okoro N, Udeze S (1999) Contemporary Public Relations StrategiesEnugu,Prise Publishers PP.6-7
Omeokwe M I (1997) Modern Public Relations Practices Lagos, Inner ways Publishers P 62
Thompson R O (2003) Public Relations Campaign Management 3rd Edition London Frankcsa p.39