As Lagos Takes Conflict Resolution To The Grassroots | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


As Lagos Takes Conflict Resolution To The Grassroots

Posted: Jul 30, 2015 at 12:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ejikeme Omenazu –   LAGOS


THE plan by the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, to go into negotiation with the Boko Haram insurgents has once more brought to the fore the importance of mediation in the act of conflict resolution. Not long ago, a self-acclaimed international negotiator claimed that he was engaged by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration to negotiate with the sect.

Although this was denied by the government, it brought to the fore the importance of such negotiators in resolving local, national and international conflicts. Even, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, at a point attempted to enter into negotiation with the sect to ensure that peace reigned in the North Eastern states of the country.

Even during the Niger Delta militancy, some levels of mediation and negotiations were involved before the conflict was brought under control, to allow for peaceful exploitation and exploitation of the oil resources in the region.

Realising the importance of mediation in conflict resolution, the Lagos State government under the former Governor,  Babatunde Fashola set up the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC) to proffer solution to various conflicts that arise among citizens as well those that are between government and citizens.

Thus, it is not uncommon to hear of Lagos residents going to such the centre for settlement of conflicts which ordinary might have been taken to the ordinary courts for adjudication. Court processes as one knows are expensive and take a long time.  While many may not have the fund to seek justice at the ordinary courts, a good number do not have the patience to wait for a long time to obtain justice in courts.

Having realised that the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC) has proved successful in its mediation efforts among citizens, the Lagos State government under the incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, now plans to decentralise it so that such centres could be found in all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Authorities (LCDAs) in the state.

This will ensure that the time to get justice through mediation and conflict resolution is shorter and more people are attended to. This will also help to reduce congestion at the central mediation centre, while the people do not have to travel long distance in pursuit of justice through the mediation process.

Thus, the recent effort of the state government to train its Legal Officers at the LGs and LCDAs becomes of paramount importance. To this end, the government, through the Local Government Establishment, Training and Pensions, organised a three-day Citizens Mediations and Conflict Resolution Workshop in collaboration with the Deno & Associates Management Consultants International in Ikeja, Lagos between July 21 and 22.

Speaking at the occasion, the Workshop Coordinator and Assistant Chief Administration Officer, Training Department, Local Government Establishment, Training and Pensions, Tunde Adekoye, stated that although the state government has a central Citizens  Mediation Centre, it wants to decentralise it by creating mediation units in all the 57 LGs and LCDAs in Lagos State.

“By this, each local government will have its mediation centre. This is part of the reform of the local government system. The programme is for impact. We need to bring reform the local governments because they are close to the people.”

On his own, the Chief Procurement Officer, Training and Pensions Office, Oriade A. Alabi, described the programme as timely even as he expressed the hope that it would be extended to other cadres in the Local Government system and as such should not be limited to Legal Officers alone.

Also speaking, the Managing Consultant, Deno & Associates, Prof. John Ebhomien, said the course was designed in pursuit of the unchanging commitment for value creation, with a sense of productivity.

He said: “The idea behind the workshop is to produce mediators with a high sense of responsibility. This is in view of the challenge of the Boko Haram insurgency, which has destroyed lives and properties.”

The training was meant for legal officers, especially those involved in conflict resolutions both at national, state and local government levels and as such the knowledged acquired from the workshop would help them fulfill this role.

One of the resource persons and a Leadership Trainer, Dr. Kaseem Jimoh, who spoke on ‘The Place of Anger Management and Conflict Resolution’, stated that the first thing persons who wish to go into mediation should know is to be ware that conflicts in the society stem from anger and that angry people do not do what people expect them to do or do what you do not expect from them.

He maintained that the workshop was relevant to the Lagos Officers as individuals and for their roles in their official capacities.

According to him, “if people narrate their problems, if you look at it carefully, you will find out that it is because of anger.” He therefore stressed that a study of anger management is necessary for people who engage in conflict resolutions at different levels.

Jimoh stressed that Legal Officers or other persons who would be engaged in mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution should know about anger management. This, he stressed, should make them not to be victims of problems of anger themselves as they could be provoked in the process of conflict resolutions.

Another speaker, a Lagos-based lawyer, Nnamdi Daniel, maintained that in every conflict, there must be three sets of people, the negotiator and the parties to the conflict. He said the mediator command absolute loyalty and cooperation of the parties to the dispute to succeed. He added that the parties must accept the outcome of the mediation, even as he stressed that such mediation should have coercive force and enforceable by law.

Daniel stressed that for him to be successful, a mediator must be neutral to be able to command authority and acceptability by the parties to the conflict. He admonished that the negotiator or mediator must therefore be totally impartial if his efforts will succeed.

Other topics treated during the workshop included ‘Writing of Reports ant Minutes of Meetings’; ‘Creative Service Delivery for Excellence’;  ‘The Requirements of Integrity and Human Relations’; ‘Self and Attitude Management’, among others.

At the end of the three-day brainstorming, the participants agreed in unison that the capacity building workshop was indeed beneficial to them as they expressed readiness to accept appointments as mediators and negotiators during any conflict, be it at the local, state or national level. They also called for such a course to be extended to other levels of the public service as it would go a long way to improve the quality of service in government establishments.