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THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY OF NIGERIA
The study examined the role of civil society in conflict management in the federal capital territory of Nigeria. The population of the study consisted of all the civil society in Nigeria. Simple random sampling techniques were used to select 215 respondents out of the population. The instrument used for data collection was questionnaire. The instrument was validated by two experts in evaluation and Test and Measurement. Data from 200 completed questionnaire forms were subjected to analysis of variance. the findings showed that the roles of civil society in conflict management in the federal capital territory of Nigeria is quite significant and remarkable. Recommendations were that The government should formally recognize the contributions made by civil society organizations and encourage and facilitate an active participation of civil society organizations in the national and international policy formulation and reforms. The government should strive to encourage and promote public awareness, advocacy and other support the existence of civil society organizations.
1.1. Background to the Study
Conflicts are products of social structure and character of society of which the civil society is an integral part. This raises the issue about the role of the civil society in conflict processes, in terms of its emergence, management, and resolution. Threats to African security remain manifold, and differ significantly by sub-region. The end of the Cold War has impacted African security in a variety of ways: the incidence of inter-state conflict has receded markedly. It is characteristic of conflicts that violent confrontation involves state and non-state actors, and that it spills across borders.
Nigeria has been characterized by recurrent violent conflict over scarce resources and land, especially in the country‘s arid northern regions bordering Somalia and in the Rift Valley. These conflicts have been fuelled by a mix of politics and ethnicity in recent years. In early 2005, the UN supported the government and civil society in developing and launching a programme on Strengthening National Capacities for Conflict Prevention and Conflict Transformation in Nigeria‘. This programme focuses on building the capacities of provincial and local officials for working with civil society to anticipate and respond to potentially violent conflicts. At the national level, the programme supports members of parliament, senior government officials and civic leaders, to acquire skills for negotiating, managing conflict, and forming consensus. The Office of the President has established the National Steering Committee on Peace-building and Conflict Management (NSC). The membership of the NSC comprises representatives from government, civil society, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and donors. The Nigerian government has invested significant resources and staff in the work of the NSC, making conflict management a top national priority1. In Africa, an increasingly vibrant civil society has been strongly involved in peacemaking and Peace building activities Phillip Annwitt, (2010). Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in various regional and international initiatives stress their relevance and growing importance to on-going peace building efforts, for example in Nigeria and Uganda. While many challenges to CSOs in the region persist, progress has been made in a number of countries. For example; In Rwanda and Burundi, women‘s organizations are at the forefront of the reconciliation and integration efforts, an aspect demonstrated in their Post Genocide Activities. The churches have sought to construct a viable and hospitable post-conflict environment through humanitarian intervention during and after the genocide. They were also centrally involved in promoting integration and assuaging the distressed population.
The concerted efforts of Ugandan CSOs as both pressure and opposition groups were instrumental in the government‘s agreement to return to a multiparty political system by 2006. Between 1985 and 1995, civil society actively engaged government in demanding democratic reforms, which eventually led to the freeing of political space. Civic and human rights education programs by CSOs, especially in the constitution-making process, helped create higher levels of awareness among Uganda people about their civic and political rights. CSOs in Uganda were at the forefront of exposing human rights violations and advocating for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the north. Through their lobbying, government offered amnesty to the Lord‘s Resistance Army (LRA) leaders in 1998 and 1999 – although the amnesty law was amended in 2003 to exclude the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, which subsequently led to considerable reversals in the mediation process. The Church of Uganda and the Uganda Joint Christian Council were particularly instrumental in the peacemaking efforts. While the Church has provided humanitarian assistance to the victims of the LRA rebellion and the general population in northern Uganda, the Council was in the forefront of advocating for reconciliation Arthur Bainomugisha and Mashood Issaka, (2004). In Nigeria, peace building and conflict management interventions by civil society organizations have involved faith-based and Non-Governmental organizations. Civil society interventions have focused on reconciliation and building new relationships amongst the warring communities. Such activities include dialogue, negotiations, and problem solving workshops, information, education and communication. These have set precedence to the coexistence in places where violence was the norm Office of the President,Ministry of state for Provincial Administration and Internal Security; National Policy on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management; September 2009. The civil society can be part of the problem of conflict creation or escalation. Since civil societies are set in the social character of society they also reflect the social contradictions in society. For instance, In Nigeria, the process of annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential elections by the vicious military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida could not have been possible without the involvement of some civil society groups. An association called Association for Better Nigeria" (ABN) played a lead role in the annulment process.
Uganda also provides an example of the role civil society has played in advocating for a peaceful resolution to conflict and the monitoring of the peace process, more specifically in the Northern Region of the country. In particular this concerns the use of independent media as an advocacy tool for the peace message. Religion also played a critical role in the reconciliation process in northern Uganda, with the Acholi Religious Leaders Initiative (ARLI) advocating for peace in the region. More recently, the involvement in the reconciliation process of the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) has made participation through religion more national as their members include religious leaders from all over Uganda Jackee Budesta Batanda; The role of Civil Society in advocating for transnational justice in Uganda; Institute for Justice and Reconciliation; 2009. Programs on strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations become evident through this cooperation with partners and governments, in an effort to manage conflicts. This therefore brings an importance in examining the role of civil society organizations further.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Although conflict is endemic in society, it is not easy to define. Conflict relates to the cultural setting, what may be considered wrong and divisive in one culture may not be considered so in another. On another hand, conflict management methodologies differ from culture to culture. A conflict arises when two or more parties have incompatible goals about something. This incompatibility of goals also defines more complex conflicts, be they organisational, communal or international. The effect of conflict, wherever it is located, is to dislocate valued relationships, and to cause stress on the structure on which relationships are based. The way in which conflict is perceived determines to a large extent how it is responded to and managed. It is therefore important to learn how to manage conflict properly. The requirement that conflict management must be peaceful is one of the bedrocks of the international legal and political system. In international law, the charter of the United Nations not only forbids the use of force or the threat of the use of force in the conduct of relations between states, but it also specifies a menu of methods for peaceful settlement of disputes.
Civil society organizations encompass actors and organizations in society which are nongovernmental and not-for-profit. Such organizations will have diverse forms, goals and purposes, but all have the potential to improve the quality of life of the citizens in the countries where they operate. NGOs are understood as a subset of civil society. They involve citizens acting collectively in the public sphere to express their interests and ideas, achieve mutual goals, advance demands on the state and hold state officials accountable. Hence, the aim of civil society organizations is to support democratic and pluralistic societies, create opportunities for public involvement and political participation and allow citizens to influence decision-making.
There are various strands of the civil society organisations that can be part of conflict management. These include human rights' groups, women associations, the press, trade unions, students' organisations and the modern NGOs, both local and international. Civil society organisations in Africa, in collaboration with their international partners can organise for emergency relief for those groups of people, participate in the process of peace negotiation by popularising peace deals, put pressure on belligerents, and Mobilise popular support for the peace process. Civil society in the conflict situation is extremely relevant in the process of Conflict management. These can be through assisting in the process of demilitarisation, demobilisation and adaptation to civil life for demobilised combatants. Civil society can also undertake post war rehabilitation projects, especially in restoring basic social services like primary health care, education amongst others. They also create awareness and consciousness through enlightenment about the futility of war and the primacy of dialogue in political and social interactions. They also ensure the principles of popular participation, rule of law, fairness, justice, and equal citizenship for the people, which are the fundamental issues that usually form the basis of conflicts in Africa. The press, human rights' groups, students' and labour movements can play key roles in this regard. Civil society plays an important role in conflict management. Conflicts tend to arise over non-negotiable disputes over the satisfaction of fundamental needs. Therefore, conflict management means going beyond negotiating achievement of interests in order to reach a resolution of needs.
1.3. Objectives of the Study
- To examine the role of civil society in conflict management
- To examine the impact of civil society in the conflict management
- To examine the involvement strategies of civil society in the conflict management
- To examine the factors militating against effective civil society in the management of conflict
- To examine the adoption of conflict resolution strategies by civil society in the management of conflict
1.4 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
- What is the e role of civil society in conflict management
- What is the impact of civil society in the conflict management
- What is the involvement strategies of civil society in the conflict management
- What is the factors militating against effective civil society in the management of conflict
- What is the adoption of conflict resolution strategies by civil society in the management of conflict
1.5. Statement of the Hypothesis
- There is no significant effect of the role of civil society in conflict management
- There is no significant effect of impact of civil society in the conflict management
- There is no significant effect of the involvement strategies of civil society in the conflict management
- 4. There is no significant effect of the factors militating against effective civil society in the management of conflict
- 5. There is no significant effect of the adoption of conflict resolution strategies by civil society in the management of conflict
1.6. Significance of the Study
The significance of this study can be viewed from the following perspectives.
1. One main significance of this study is that when completed, it would serve as a bridge for the gap that have been created between where previous works on this subject area stopped and today.
2 This study is significant in the sense that it’s finding would serve as a base and framework for future researchers to carry out further studies in the field of knowledge under study.
3 The Civil society would benefit from this study in view of the fact that they would learn how efficacious Civil society Organization is and in reaction, effectively and adequately implement this programme in all organization organizations.
1.7. Justification of Study
Academia provides the means for intellectual exploration of the concerns and experiences that influence students‘perspectives about significant issues in their lives including those that divide them such as ethnicity and ethnocentrism. In Nigeria academics have constituted the core of change agents against the excesses of the past regimes. They have been the formulators and vehicles of ideological dissemination, representative of the majority and sympathetic to the cause of ordinary people. Other major contributions have been made by the radical lecturers who have created a critical mass amongst their students who have not only questioned the excesses of dictatorial regimes, but participated in enhancing democracy. The presence of academics in a number of civil society organizations and their subsequent entrance to competitive elective politics are all measures that have enhanced democratization process.
Building Strong Civil Society Networks in the region will benefit from networking with international partners. Their collaborations would help amplify CSO voices in advocacy of human rights and democracy. Stronger national, regional, and international networks would create additional synergies capable of providing practical alternatives to autocratic government policies. Such networks could more successfully place pressure on governments for policy changes. Collaborations could also facilitate the sharing of information and resources, which would enhance the capacity and efficiency of individual CSOs. An enhanced supportive role from the international community to civil society groups that promote good governance could facilitate broader democratization in the sub-region.
1.8 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study was delimited to the role of civil society in conflict management in the federal capital territory of Nigeria.
1.9 Definition of terms Study
Civil society:society considered as a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity.
Conflict:a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.
Conflict management:is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. The aim of conflict management is to enhance learning and group outcomes, including effectiveness or performance in an organizational setting
Crisis: a time of intense difficulty or danger.