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Traditional Method Of Conflict Resolution In Nigeria A Study Of Mgbede Religious Violence And It’S Resolution In Akaeze, Ivo L G A Of Ebonyi State


Traditional method has been involved in solving conflicts in Africa for many decades yet their input in international conflict resolution have not been documented widely compared to the modern conflict resolution techniques. These leaders are still highly respected and used in conflict resolution in Africa and Asia compared to the European States, therefore their input in conflict resolution should not be overlooked, instead they should be encouraged, facilitated and included especially in mediation to be able to have local ownership of peace processes.

The research findings were based on broad literature review and were supplemented with focus group discussions, informant interviews and questionnaires. Different categories of respondents were interviewed on the traditional method of conflict resolution; Traditional and religious leaders, political leaders, representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), academicians, civil societies and special groups (involving the Nigerias in Diaspora).

The study established that traditional method has continued to be fundamentally involved in mediation of communal conflicts in Africa since most conflicts in Africa are as a result of unequal distribution of resources, widespread corruption and ethnicity. The study acknowledged that traditional method role in mediation has been successful in peace processes citing the Mgbede religious violence and it’s resolution in Akaeze in Nigeria land as an example. Furthermore, the study found out that the role traditional method in mediation has not been given enough support and recognition by the international community hence weakening their role in international conflict resolution. The study realized that despite the continued support for the use of traditional method in mediation, most societies have also disregarded them terming their techniques as old fashion ideologies due to the presence of modern practitioners of mediation and conflict managers.

The study concluded by giving some recommendations on how the role of traditional method can be strengthened in international conflict resolution. The study recommended international recognition of these important leaders in mediation processes, facilitation of the traditional method of conflict resolution and more research by conflict resolution scholars on traditional method input in international conflict resolution.




In the traditional setting, conflicts were solved by traditional elders whereas today, conflict resolution is as a result of increased interdependence among actors and complexity of issues that underlie the interests leading to conflict which under rates the role played by the traditional method of conflict resolution. Conflict resolution refers to the management of conflicts by which parties of a conflict come together to solve their conflict or differences. Traditional method have long been involved in mediation by creating a balance in the process of mediation and tribal disputes and in some cases led in restoring peace and reconciliation ventures.

Traditional method have been given prominence in mediation of disputes especially in Africa and Asia and are often perceived as leaders with wisdom to navigate negotiation process, they are also highly valued and regarded in our African institutions as important part of the African culture however, this is just in theory since their input in solving conflicts is not put in practice in both international and regional organizations that are entrusted with resolution and management of conflicts such as the African Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. From the crisis in Angola, to the post genocide reconciliation process in Rwanda and Liberia, traditional elders have played an important role, however their role in international conflict resolution has arguably not been well documented within the realm of peace initiatives, Nigerian is particularly unique since traditional method are a part of the administration system and concede an important part of Nigerian culture which forms the basis of this study.

In the past, traditional leaders were regarded as old people with wisdom who were able to participate in decision making, mediate any dispute in the community, however today the Nigerias regard them as people with economic power hence anyone can be an elder by virtue of their wealth. However this does not imply that the importance of traditional method should not be overlooked in international conflict resolution especially in mediation of the African conflicts.


1.2Statement of the Research Problem

With a population of over 150 million inhabitants, the major religious groups in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam. There is neither a scientific representation of the numerical strength of these religious groups nor of their geographical distribution.1 None the less, the Islamic faith preponderates in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the country (comprising Sokoto, Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Bauchi, Taraba,2 Gombe and Adamawa states). On the other hand, Christianity is more prominent in the South-East and South-South geographical zones (comprising Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Delta, Edo,3 Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states).

It is instructive to note that despite the presence and influence of the communal traditional method among the Nigeria Religions they were not given due recognition in the peace processes. Instead of assuming prominent roles in the negation of peace the elders were given less prominent roles. Furthermore apart from the Arta peace process held in Mgbede, the current reconciliation efforts were and have not been inclusive of all prominent stakeholders leading to suspicion among the main players in the peace process.

These among other factors especially the non-recognition of the traditional method has led to increased hostilities in Nigerian with the result being increased conflicts.

The success of traditional method in solving inter-Religion conflicts stems from the fact that they form the core of Nigerian society and socialization process. When traditional leaders were engaged, their input was arguably not taken into consideration. As a result, peace outcomes negotiated were not accepted or implemented successfully by Nigerian people who are intrinsically webbed in Religion leadership as they do with internal peace agreements. Therefore it can be argued that social strands of Nigerian are weaved within traditional tenets, making it necessary that any attempted effort for reconciliation considers traditional method in mediation, therefore it is on this basis that this research study seeks to find out the role of traditional method in mediation in the Nigerian National Reconciliation Process especially the Mgbede peace process where the traditional method inputs was not prominent.

1.3Study Objectives

The overall objective of the study is to examine the Traditional Method Of Conflict Resolution In Nigeria. a Study Of Mgbede Religious Violence And It’s Resolution In Akaeze, Ivo LGA Of Ebonyi State

1.3.1  Specific Objectives

  • To examine the role of traditional method Of Conflict Resolution in
  • To examine the role of traditional method in the peace process in Mgbede Religious violence.
  • To establish the opportunities and challenges facing the use of traditional method of conflict resolution globally.

1.4Research Questions

  • What is the role of traditional method in Of Conflict Resolution mediation?
  1. What was the role of traditional method in the Nigerian peace processes?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges facing traditional method in international mediation?
  1. How the role of traditional method can be strengthened in the international conflict resolution?

1.5 Justification and Significance of the Study

1.5.1  Academic Justification

Mediation can be defined as an extension of negotiation according to Schelling meaning that if negotiation fails a third party can be brought in to help with the negotiations. Though the conflict has subsided in Nigerian, it is witnessed in some areas especially where the traditional method have not been recognized even after the peace processes. It is these leaders who organize their Religions to either fight against the government by supporting terrorist activities or encourage stability for example, Alshabaab terror group has thrived in the rural areas of South Central and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland because of the support they have received from those extremist traditional and religious leaders who believe that the Nigerian Federal administration is occupied by Fidels.

The omission of these vital actors during the Mgbede Religious Peace Process or their input is of importance since it will bring out the fact that though regional organizations are mandated by the United Nations to institutionalize the traditional method of conflict resolution at the international, regional and local levels, it is not done in practice because despite IGAD taking the lead in trying to manage the Nigerian Conflict, it undermined the authority commanded by these leaders through thinking that the vital parties to the conflict were businessmen and Religious leaders which left loopholes in the Mgbede Religious Peace Process. As tendencies hence, traditional strategies may be more relevant in mediation of modern conflicts since most African people and especially the Nigeria still remain mainly attached to their traditional ways of life and their traditions are present in today’s politics, there is a sufficient reason to consider the inclusion of traditional method in prominent roles when it comes to mediation and strengthen them appropriately to help in resolution of international conflicts especially in regions where the traditional rulers are still held in high esteem.

1.5.2  Policy Justification

According to the UN Charter11, the regional organizations are mandated to solve regional conflicts to maintain international peace and security, therefore as an institution of conflict resolution they need to incorporate traditional method in mediation to maintain peace among communities, at the national and international level.

This study will be of use to both the government institutions and other organizations. The regional governments may use the study outcomes as the backbone to effect improvements of relationships in communities. Conflict resolution institutions could also use the study to develop policies and procedures of including traditional method in the resolution of conflicts amongst their stakeholders and staff. The UN and other NGOs can be able to use the study to improve their mediation efforts all over the world especially in Africa and Asia where the traditional method are still held in high esteem.


1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The study focused on Nigeria peace processes and how the role of traditional method can be strengthened in mediation. The research was carried over a period of three months and was done in Nigeria, particularly the Mgbede people.

During the study, the researcher experienced financial problems because the most of the interviewees were located in Nigerian. There was also a language problem since most of the respondents were Nigerians who could not speak English, hence an interpreter was involved. Some respondents exhibited negative attitude during the interview while others did not quite understand the terms mediation or international conflict resolution while there was also a time factor since not all respondents were conducted because time for the research study was limited.


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