ROLE OF COMMUNITY GATEKEEPERS IN PEACE AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
The study examined The Role of Community Gatekeepers in Peace and Conflict Management with reference to Kasuwan Magani Community as a case study. Objectively, five research questions were formulated. The survey design was used in the study. The sample size was 400. 400 questionnaires were administered to the respondents, but 278 questionnaires were found valid. The data gathered were analyzed using simple percentage and mean. The findings revealed that conflict avoider, accommodator, compromiser, problem solver, competitor interactive communicator are the qualities of the gatekeeper… Based on the findings, conclusion was drawn and recommendations given that the government should give necessary training to community gatekeepers on conflict resolution and management to prevent crime in our society, set up a monitoring committee on peace building to look into the activities of gatekeepers to main law and orders in our society… .
Where nations, societies and communities abide and commune for social interaction, business and other trade relations, there are bound to be disagreements (conflicts) and it is worthy of mentioning that if these disagreements are not properly managed, it can progress into violent conflicts. Wilmot and Hocker (2001) stated that conflict is “an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources and interference from others in achieving their goals. In another vein Adamu (2016) defined conflict as any form of interruption in the succession of events amongst or between two or more persons or groups that can even lead or cause harm, danger or injury on either or both parties. Thus, it is important to note that the end result of conflicts is usually a huge loss of lives and property. The understanding and conceptualization of conflict have led to a multiplicity of definitions and explanations of what really constitutes conflicts. Therefore, as societies and people interact, conflicts remain inevitable and as such it develops, and so also its definitions and explanations continue to evolve. Pankhurst (2003) explains that Conflict is a word often used loosely to mean many different things despite its long history in Social Science. Most types of social, political, and economic changes involve a conflict of some sort, and one could argue that many of the positive changes in world history have occurred as a result of the conflict just as it is being upheld by the Marxist school of thought.
However, Conflicts are unavoidable aspects of human interaction. They arise from the pursuit of divergent interests, goals and aspirations by individuals or groups. Changes in the socio–political environment provide fertile grounds for conflicts involving individuals and groups probably interested in using these conflicts to achieve their selfish goals. Therefore, the negative exploitation of communality and religion results into communal and religious conflicts. These often arise out of mistrust, hostility and polarization of relations among groups and at times in a competitive setting. Religious experiences are one of the most important experiences of mankind the world over, and every religion claims among other things, to be an agent of peace. Such claims seem to be true to some extent. That is why Asaju (1988:128) asserted that, “although, religious experiences differ, but one fact is that all people are affiliated to one Supreme Being, that is God who is worshipped under different names among different tribes of the world”. It is on these bases that the Nigerian constitution recognizes three religions and these religions are: Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. The advent of the two religions rather made the indigenous religion to begin to recede to the background. As a result, most people (Nigerians) identify themselves as either Christians or Muslims.
For the sociologist, the main idea of conflict is that it is an intrinsic and inevitable aspect of social change. At the cultural level, conflicts occur between members of different cultures and members of the same culture who feel that cultural rules or norms are being violated, in the society also religious conflicts often occur because one religion might feel more superior than others or a religion might feel marginalized or looked down upon. Thus, religious and other forms of sectarian struggles and conflicts are on the rise recently in Nigeria. The return of democracy with accompanying respect for fundamental human rights seemed to have unleashed all the tensions that have accumulated over the years. Of recent, deepest attachments have tended to shift more in favour of communal–based tendencies as religion and ethnic centrism occupies more space in the social and political landscape of the Nigerian society. This trend has been intensified and made more complicated by unpopular policies and bad governance in the past and even at this present time (Kukah, 1993).
In a bid to reduce the prevalence of conflicts and their associated consequences, studies were conducted at different levels. According to Chukwuma and Atelhe (2014) they explored the problem from ethnic sentiments and recommended the sensitization of stakeholders on the need for mutual co-existence while Blench (2004) discussed conflicts as rooted in poverty and the individual struggle for survival and his recommendations bordered around effective resource sharing policies. Serneels and Verpoorten, (2012) and Cerra and Saxena, (2008) identify emotional factors as responsible for conflicts. One of the many ways identified for preventing and resolving conflicts is the use of gatekeepers. Many Scholars have stressed the significant role of community leaders as gatekeepers in the resolution of conflicts in any community. Natsir and Hum (2014) upheld that involving gatekeepers is very paramount as a conflict resolution mechanism and should not be taken for granted because gatekeepers serve as the closest intermediary between the community and government.
In a nutshell, this research work aims at evaluating and assessing the significant role of community gatekeepers as a mechanism(s) or tool of conflict resolution during the Kasuwan Magani Crisis in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Kaduna State has witnessed incessant communal, ethnic and religious conflicts, where several communities‟ picked up arms against each other in a bid to further pursue their interests. This has resulted in the loss of lives and property. Thus, Kajuru Local Government Area which borders Chikun Local Government Area (that is part of the Four Local Government Councils that made up the Kaduna Metropolis) has also been affected by this urgly menace that ranges from religious, ethnic, political and recently the Herdsmen and Farmers conflicts. Successive governments in Kaduna State have over this period taken measures aimed at addressing the challenges of communal, ethnic and religious conflicts but these killings have continued to occur and reoccur unabatedly (Abdul, 2013). To reduce the killings and destructions of properties scholars have buttressed the importance of information control through the community gatekeepers. However, the traditional rulers, ethnic and opinion leaders (gatekeepers) whom the government relied on as negotiator or facilitators for conflict prevention seem to have failed. The gatekeepers are conceptualized as proxies of their communities, hence they can decide what information should move to a group and what information should not for conflict prevention.
Hence, this study focuses on unraveling the important role played by community gatekeepers in the resolution and prevention of conflict in Kajuru Local Government Area in particular and Kaduna State in general.
1.2 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study is focused on the role of community gatekeepers in peace and conflict management with reference to Kasuwan Magani Community as a case study.
Other specific objectives are to:
- Identify the qualities of the gatekeeper.
- Examine the adequacy of gatekeepers in crime prevention or resolution.
- Find out the strategies of gatekeepers.
- Identify the role of gatekeepers in conflict resolution and prevention.
- Ascertain the perceptions of the community members towards their gatekeepers.
1.3 Research Questions
In order to guide the research work, the following research questions were formulated from the objectives of the study:
- What are the qualities of the gatekeeper?
- What is the adequacy of gatekeepers in crime prevention or resolution?
- What are the strategies of gatekeepers?
- What are the roles of gatekeepers in conflict resolution and prevention?
- How can the perceptions of the community members be ascertained towards their gatekeepers?
1.4 Assumption/ Proposition of the Study
The following assumptions were adopted for the research
- That gatekeepers try their best to prevent and resolve conflicts
- That gatekeepers receive information about potential crises situation
- That gatekeepers are chosen based on reputation
- That some gatekeepers are impose on the community
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research work is significant in various ways; first and foremost this research will help in reawakening the minds of Nigerians on the important role gatekeepers play in conflict prevention and resolution in the community. Teachers, students and researchers of sociology and history in Nigerian schools will find the project benefiting to them as it furnishes them with current information on the strategy of gatekeepers in resolving conflicts. The project shall be useful to politicians and political leaders in decision-making on issues that affects conflict resolution, prevention and management. It will also help and be a valuable source of academic and policy material on the existing body of knowledge on the subject of peace and conflict management in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study on the assessment and evaluation of the role of community gatekeepers in the task of preventing and resolving conflicts in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
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