1.1 Background of the Study
Conflict is a social phenomenon that has continually gain ground in every aspect of social lives, which made people to conclude that it is an inevitable social phenomenon. For instance, Coser (1956) cited in Sulemana (2010) believes that conflict can never be an expression of social tension and struggle over valued and claims, to scarce status, power and resources in which the aim of the opponents are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals. Sulemana (2010) believes that the major predisposing factors that contribute to the escalation of conflicts are yet to be fully established, though many of which can be attributed to the struggle for authority, ownership and control to land, reception of threat by another, socialization and political government interference. As there is the notion of society and the very existence of people, there is obviously conflict no matter the extent as well as the source of it. In fact, one cannot separate conflict from humankind. It is impossible to see them independently; they are always together making two faces of the same coin. It is unconceivable to think a society without conflict (Assefa 2005).
Conflict appears to be an integral component of human performance in diverse activities. The term could be classified based on different criterias and variables, and this creates difficulty in formulating an operational and exact definition. According to Slabbert (2004), conflict is a process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affects, something that the first party cares about. Hence, attempting to avoid conflict is not only going against nature but it is also going against development. However, conflict should be wisely resolved before it turns to be destructive.
What especially makes conflict normal and natural is its very existence at different levels and walks of life of people in a given society. Infact, conflict takes different forms to occur. It may come to happen at intrapersonal, interpersonal and inter-group levels. It may also be within and/or between communities (Befekadu and Diribssa 2005).
The practice of conflict resolution is dominated by the assumption that conflict can at best be managed but hardly possible to solve it. Particularly, conflict management theories see violent conflict as an ineradicable-viewing resolving a conflict as unrealistic and the best that can be done is to manage and contain them and occasionally to reach a historic compromise (Bloomfield and Yash (1998).
On the other hand Conflict Resolution theorists argue that it is possible to transcend conflict if the parties can help to explore, analyze, question and reframe their position and interest. Conflict resolution, therefore emphasize intervention by skilled but power third party to foster new thinking and new relations (Miall 1989). Thus conflict resolution involves process oriented activities that aims to address the underlying cause of direct, structural and cultural violence (Walters 2000), while simultaneously finding a way to respect their underlying values and identities (Spangler 2003).
There are two ways of conflict resolution methods i.e. the formal and informal. According to Macfarlane (2004), the formal one is conducted in the court through litigation with official recognitions of the government and tends to be more strictly examined and monitored whether there are signs of impartiality, entrenched inequalities and lack of the process. Indigenes or sometimes called informal conflict mechanism is the ancient set of practices in almost all the societies in the world with an ultimate application of third party arbitration and mediation.
According to Kennedy (2003), the concept of indignity connotes institutions mechanisms and practices predating colonialism and the Westphalia state that derive form the sociological, historical, demographic, environmental and geographical context in which they exist.
Kennedy (2003) suggested that the role of indigenous based institutions and culture in conflict prevention and resolution as well as peace building is becoming increasingly prominence in most countries.
Dahal and Bhatta (2008) also confirmed that indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms are used to organize a discussion to mediate several types of conflict within the societies by recognizing the identity and interests of the conflicting parties. Here its main aim is to come up with a solution and justifying it by the duty of the mechanism based on recognized customs and morality of the society itself.
Indigenous institutions’ include structures, mechanisms methods or techniques and practice that incorporate indigenous principles such as conciliation, discussion, negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Indigenous approaches cannot be compartmentalized into “political” or “Juridical or other, rather they are holistic; comprising also social, economic, cultural and religious-spiritual dimension.
This implies that the sum of indigenous lifestyle and world views in which the different sphere of societal life are hardly separated. In addition the conflict parties can directly engage in negotiations on conflict resolution and in the search for a solution, or a third part can be invited to mediate.
In this case Kennedy (2003) suggests that the process of conflict resolution is public and the participation in the process and the approval of result is voluntary.
The process is carried out by social groups in the interest of social groups such as extended families, clans, village communities, tribes, brotherhoods, etc; individual are perceived as members of a kin-group, they are accountable to that group, and the group is accountable for the deeds of each of its members (Boege 2006).
The above idea implies, every society has its own culturally deep-rooted mechanisms of conflict resolution. Accordingly, Ibong Ikot Akan is one of the cultural communities in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, has its own indigenous mechanisms of conflict resolution. Thus, this research paper exhaustively deals with how any sort of conflicts are settled and resolved by this community.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
We all deal with conflict in our daily lives – at home, work and school, in personal and business relations. In today’s complex society, it is common to see when communication breaks down, differences increase and conflicts arise. What is important is how to settle our differences. The conflicts in Ibong Ikot Akan Community include dispute over land, conflict over marital issues, conflict over property, issues like witchcratcy; physical violence and adultery are also common.
There are options available in Ibong Ikot Akan land for resolving conflicts arising between individual or groups by peaceful means. These are being done by informal institutions of the community.
1.3 Research Question
This study, therefore attempts to address the following research questions.
1. What is the role of indigenous institutions in handling conflict?
2. What are the processes and procedures followed by this indigenous institution?
3. What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of indigenous institutions in conflict resolution process?
4. What challenges are these institutions currently facing?
5. How do people of the study area view the role and procedures of conflict resolution institutions?
1.4 Objective of the Study
The research has the following general and specific objectives.
1.4.1 General Objective
The general objective of this research is:
To assess the role of indigenous institutions in handling/settling conflicts in Ibong Ikot Akan Community.
1.4.2 Specific Objectives
The specific objectives of this research are:
· To identify the role of indigenous institution in handling conflict in the study area.
· To explore the process and procedures following by these indigenous institutions.
· To discuss the advantage and limitation of these indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms.
· To assess the challenges facing these indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms.
· To assess the attitude of the community towards interaction between indigenous conflict resolution institution and other settlement institutions in the study area.
· To assess the view of the community towards these indigenous institutions.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study is significant from the following perspectives first, it provides valuable information about the role of indigenous conflict settlement mechanisms, plays among the people of Ibong Ikot Akan. Second, it reveals the preference of people related to conflict settlement mechanism and the rationale behind it.
Third, the finding of the study may be used by the concerned bodies (e.g. legislature) to consider and preserve indigenous knowledge and values.
Further, the results of the study will be contributed to the limited literature on indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms among the nations.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
Shortage of time, finance and other constraints bear limitation on the geographical coverage and extent of the study.
This study covers only Ibong Ikot Akan people. The study is also limited to focus on the role of traditional conflict resolution institution in resolving conflicts. Due to the nature of the topic, qualitative method was used. Therefore it is with this limitation that the study was designed.
1.7 Definition of Key Concept
Conflict refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or move members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or move members of another group.
Coser (1968) defined conflict as a struggle over values or claims to status and scarce resources, in which the aim of the conflicting parties is not only the desired values but also neutralizes injures or eliminate their rivals..