There is no place on earth that disputes or conflicts do not occur, and Nigeria is not an exception. Nigeria is fondly called the giant of Africa, mainly due to its large population with over 250 tribes who speak different languages. There are 36 states in the country and each state is made up of several communities. It is common to have disagreements among people in the community or have disagreements with other nearby communities.
Over the past years, Nigeria has witnessed a massive loss of lives and destruction of properties as a result of these communal conflicts in different regions of the country. An example, is the community clash between Ife and Modakeke in Osun state. Even in this present time, communal conflicts and interpersonal clashes are still rampant, and there has been news of the Fulani herdsmen killing people and fueling antagonism spirit in the minds of other communities. Recently in Ibadan, there has been unrest in Moniya because a Hausa man killed a Yoruba man and this has resulted in pandemonium as the Yoruba Community wants to avenge the death of one of their own.
How can Mediation come in to bring about peace and resolution to all of these clashes? Mediation can play a big role in bringing peace to the different communities in Nigeria through Community/ Communal Mediation. For those that might be hearing or reading about Mediation for the first time, it is a means of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party helps the parties involved in a dispute to reach a negotiated settlement. The neutral third- party is called a mediator and doesn’t take sides. He makes sure that the Mediation process is fair for everyone. Mediation is less- expensive, saves time and energy, and helps to relieve the stress that comes with litigation.
Community/ Communal Mediation is a form of Mediation that provides constructive processes for resolving disagreements and conflicts between individuals, groups, and organizations. Similar to Mediation, participants of a Community Mediation control the process and create their alternatives to solving the dispute with the aid of Community Mediators. Community Mediation is a veritable mode of resolving communal clashes or disputes as it offers the participants an opportunity to discuss their concerns and needs. It also helps in strengthening relationships, building connections between people and groups, creates processes that make communities work for everyone.
The roles of Community Mediators include but not limited to the following:
- They support participants through difficult conversations.
- They provide a safe environment to discuss the participants’ needs while the participants retain decision-making authority.
- They use their advanced skills and training to help participants reach a resolution that is agreeable by both parties.
Community Mediation is what Nigeria needs as a way forward to all the damages caused as a result of these clashes. We believe that individuals are empowered and relationships within the community are strengthened when conflicts are resolved through cooperative processes. Centres for Effective Dispute Resolution across Nigeria should be willing and ready to help communities in resolving communal disputes. There is a need for government to provide incentives for Resolution Centres for them to function effectively, likewise, N.G.Os, private bodies, and individuals who are peace agents should participate in Community Mediation by being the Mediators or hiring trained Mediators for disputes to be resolved effectively.