CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN THE NIGERIA LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM (A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE)

(Business Administration and Management)

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN THE NIGERIA LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM

(A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE)

ABSTRACT

The research is on Conflict Management in Local Government System in Enugu State.

One hundred and twenty senior staff and thirty-two political office holders were selected from four local government areas in Enugu State and were administered with questionnaires of elicit response from them.  Other source of materials used for this research included discussions, lectures, journals and textbooks.

Among the sources of conflict in their order of importance were non-payment of salaries and other staff claims and allowances, poor working conditions, etc.  Also discovered was that the prevailing strategies for conflict management where both inadequate and ineffective.  Further, ou general response to conflict situations varied from compromise to integration and dominance.

Based on the above findings, the recommended solutions included are prompt and regular payment of salaries and other staff claims, provision of adequate working materials, improvement of communication network between staff and management, training of official involved in conflict management with a view to acquiring effective conflict management skills, etc.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

1.0         Introduction                             

1.1     General Background to the Subject Matter

1.2         Problems Associated with the subject Matter

1.3         Problems that the study will be concerned with

1.4         The Important of Study Case                

1.5         Definition of Important Terms    

Chapter reference using APA Method.    

CHAPTER TWO

2.0         Literature Review                                                   

2.1     Origin of the Subject Area                             

2.2         Schools of thought with the Subject Matter               

2.3         The Schools of thought relevant to

the problem of study                                              

2.4         Different methods of studying the problem               

2.5         Summary                                                               

Reference                                                              

CHAPTER THREE

3.0         Conclusion                                                             

3.1     Data Presentation (Highlight of the Study)      

3.2         Analysis of the Study                                                        

3.3         Recommendation                                                   

3.4         Conclusion                                                             

Reference.                                                             

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1        GENERAL BACKGROUND TO THE SUBJECT MATTER

As with any complex concept, the literature on conflict and its management contains many definitions.  While most of the definitions treat conflict as a negative pathological condition characterized by lack of co-operation, hostility, struggle, break down and destruction, some see it as not only necessary but inevitable in our social life.

We speculate that the prime reason for this bias life lies in the value system of the observer.  It seems safe to assume that if one value stability, comfort, contentment, tradition and the like, conflict will be viewed in a negative context.  On the other hand, if one value changes, creativity, openness of process, honesty, etc.  It seems highly probable that one would appreciate the positive aspects of conflict from which ever perspective it is viewed, what is note worthy is that conflict is an inevitable part of humanity as ca be seen.

Duddley (1992) states that ‘within our diversity as humans there are differences in perceptions, needs, values, power, desires, goals, opinions …  These differences often lead to conflict.  Cornelius and Parre (1995) hold that when people cannot tolerate other’s moral culture religion and political differences, conflict is inevitable and often costly.  Onah (1997) quoting Ponty, L. R. see conflict as conflictual behaviour, verbal or non-verbal, ranging from passive resistance to active aggression.

The centrality of conflict in our day-to-day interaction is further highlighted by Anioke (1998) who eloquently observed that, at the various levels and development of human society; from prehistoric era to the present age of mega computers and Internets, conflict has also been developmental and has therefore grown with us.  The situation is even more evidence in the local government system where crisis either between the chairman and his councilors or between the management and labour have assured astronomical proportion.

The view reflected in this study is that conflict is not a reasonable state, which is either good or bad.  Rather it is conscious baheviour involving interdependent parties acting in opposition to one another.  Further if is a part of life and often a part of growth and change.

Conflict management on the other hand, refers to the act or process of identifying, explaining, settling, determining and resolving conflicts or issues between parties.  It should be noted that the resolution of a conflict in its proper application means that the issues at stake has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties.  Hence a conflict resolving medianism does not anticipate that the conflicts situation condition to their previous state.

The main focus of this study therefore is to examine conflict management in local government system in Enugu state.  In doing this, the various dimension and forms of conflict prevalent in local government system are highlighted.  Also discussed are the various levels of and our general response to conflict situations.

Finally and very important too, the study highlights a framework for effective conflict management in local government system in Enugu State.

1.2         PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER

The Nigeria Local Government is an integral part of the larger, Nigeria political system.  A critical examination of the history of Nigerian political system will reveal that it is a history of crises and instability as illustrated in the rise of crups and counter – crups, communal and ethnic conflicts, strikes and demonstration etc.  As part of the larger system, the local governments are not immuned against, the destructive effects of these crises.

Within the local government system as a third tier of government, there is high incidence of crises and conflicts, which most of the time hinder effective and efficient delivery of services to the grass root populace.  For instance, the present local government councils have executive Chairman and Councilor elected on party basis.  This, itself is a source of conflict as the chairman and councilors, most often, take actions based purely on parochial party interest and not on the over-riding interest of the rural general public.

Sometimes also most chairmen rule without consulting their councilors, thereby acting as sole Administrators.  Such chairmen are usually accused of over-centralization of authority and functions, as well as personal opinion award of contracts.

A related issue is the personality clash of most chairmen with their deputies.  Some chairmen selfishly sideline their deputies to the extent that even some deputies are without official vehicles; have no specific functions, and even the barest office furniture.  Even when these chairmen travel out of their areas for other national official assignments, their deputies are not allowed to stand in for them.

Also attempts by some local government chairmen to control the key functionaries e.g. H.P.M. measures, and secretaries do lead to clash and conflict, the inability of the councils to pay workers, their salaries and allowance also constantly generate labour – management hostility that makes headlines news.

Given therefore, the preponderance and nature of conflict situation in local government system, and also given their debilitating effect on service delivery to the grass root populace, this study is not only very necessary but timely.

1.3     PROBLEMS THAT THE STUDY WILL BE CONCERNED WITH

As already stated, the local governments as the third tier of government are always engrossed in one form of conflict or the other.  These conflicts originate from many sources.  Sometimes, they could be from the elected or appointed politician on whose hands are placed the management of the socio-economic and political programmes of the rural populace.

As critical managers of the third tier of government, sometimes, some of their policies and decisions especially as they affect workers could be causing andenemical to existing rules and regulations.  The eventual result is labour management hostility.  With the existence of these conflict situations, the managers of the system are expected to have good conflict management strategies.

Unfortunately, what we have in the system in Enugu state is ineffective framework for conflict management.  Consequently, the overall performance of most local government in Enugu State is not only poor but ha over the years shown a steady decline.

Thus, the study addresses the debilitating issue of inadequate and ineffective framework for conflict resolution in local government system in Enugu state.

In addition; the study addresses the erroneous impression held by many scholars that conflict; is a negative sensible condition characterized only be lack of co-operations hostility, struggles etc.

1.4     THE IMPORTANT OF THE STUDY CASE

(1) The study has the potentiality of generating comprehensive and effect conflict management strategies capable of addressing the various conflict situations within the system.

(2) Consequently, it will now be possible for administrators and practitioners of the local governments to learn to live with conflict, to learn about it with a view of making choices, and seeking career officers, and conflict between the management and the labour National Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE).

(3) The study will also serve as a bibliographical reference for other related studies that have to do with management labour relation.

1.5        DEFINITION OF IMPORTANT TERMS

The research takes its bearing from the theory propounded by Follet in (1940), which dealt with the ways of dealing with conflict.  According to Follet there are three ways of resolving conflicts between parties.  These are domination, compromise and integration.

Domination:         According to Follet is a conflict resolution strategy in which one party wins and the other loses.

Compromise:       Is a strategy where the parties to he conflict give up something with a view to allowing each of them to win something.

Integration:         Is a strategy in which the parties seek a new solution to the conflict rather than staying within the confines of existing mutually exclusive alternatives.

It is to be noted that before the development of this theory (Follet’s) scholars were unanimous in their view that different conflict situations require different strategies for their resolution, but the question has been, what kind of strategy should be adopted in a particular kind of conflict.  This question becomes very important when considered against the back drop that the world is in the state of flux and people are changing their needs and expectations as the days rolls by thus-giving rise to greater propensity of conflicts in our modern society.

While still in search for the most effective conflict management strategy, Follet et al were able to determine the effectiveness of the three techniques they advanced.

Domination:         Was often the quickest and easiest way in the immediate sense; but in the long run.  It is not usually successful.

Integration:         Was recognized as the most fruitful approach in handling conflict, though it is difficult to achieve.

Compromise:       Was not viewed as a way to achieving lasting solution; since at some point the conflict would arise in another form.

Interesting as the above finding may be, the question remains of what relevance is Follet’s theory of conflict management to this study?  Follet’s theory is significant to this study in that it will help to open the eyes of local government administrators as well as key functionaries of local governments to the facts that there is not-all-purpose techniques in conflicts management that is universally accepted as successful.  In other words, there are no normative or best techniques of conflict management but those successful leaders, those who can adopt their conflict management techniques to meet the needs of conflicting parties at the particular situation.

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