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Resolving conflicts for national development

by Church Times

      By Olufemi Boyede, CITP

 The recent nationwide strike in Nigeria has highlighted the pervasive issue of conflict within the country and as a global phenomenon. Understanding the origins of conflict and exploring effective approaches to resolution is crucial for sustainable development and peace.

The strike is a stark reminder of the inevitability of societal conflict. Conflicts emerge when opposing interests, goals, or values clash, leading to varying outcomes based on how they are managed.

Conflict is not limited to Nigeria; it is a universal aspect of human interaction. Whether in the form of disagreements, strikes, or large-scale disputes, conflict can have positive and negative consequences depending on how it is addressed.

 

 

The case of Nigeria

In the case of Nigeria, economic disparities, historical contexts, campaign promises, and long-standing negotiations are the recurring factors contributing to the justification and escalation of conflict. Recognising these root causes is essential for devising effective conflict resolution strategies that address underlying issues.

Conflict arises from opposing interests, goals, or values, making it an inherent part of human interaction worldwide. Constructive conflict resolution fosters growth, innovation, and improved relationships, while poorly handled conflict can result in violence, breakdown of relationships, and socio-economic disruptions.

One key aspect of conflict resolution is understanding the root cause. In Nigeria, socio-economic factors play a significant role in fuelling conflicts, especially in societies with income and resource disparities. The recent nationwide strike in Nigeria highlighted how economic disparity can trigger large-scale disputes.

Wage advocacy, not new

Since independence, labour unions in Nigeria have been advocating for better wages and living conditions for the Nigerian worker. The perennial frequency of these conflicts underscores the need for conflict management strategies that address economic pressures and social inequalities.

The nationwide strike caused an economic standstill and disrupted essential services leaving a major impact on Nigeria’s healthcare sector and food supply chains, leading to socio-economic instability.

In addition to this, the shutting down of the national grid, commercial banks, and some airline companies resulted in the loss of millions of Naira as well as other irrecoverable impacts on many businesses and individuals.

Point to ponder

Addressing the issues arising from conflicts requires a multi-faceted approach. It involves exploring different conflict resolution strategies, learning from past experiences, and fostering stakeholder dialogues.

By examining how other countries have handled similar conflicts, valuable lessons can be gleaned to improve conflict management practices in Nigeria.

In other words, it is crucial to consider how recurring nationwide strikes can be prevented and how labour unions can engage with the government more effectively to avoid sudden economic shutdowns.

Emphasising compromise, sincerity of purpose, and empathy in conflict resolution processes can pave the way for sustainable solutions that benefit all parties involved.

Root of the crisis

A deep understanding of the root causes is essential to truly resolve the conflicts and tensions that led to the nationwide strike. Addressing economic disparities, implementing fair labour practices, and fostering transparent governance are pivotal steps toward sustainable conflict resolution.

By acknowledging the socio-economic factors at play and prioritising inclusive policies, Nigeria can pave the way for national development and social cohesion.

When delving into the socio-economic and political dimensions of the recent nationwide strike in Nigeria, one cannot overlook the stark disparity between the rich and the poor that catalysed the upheaval.

The struggles for better wages and living conditions among the working class were fuelled by the glaring wealth gap, exacerbated by the opulent lifestyle of the political elite, and juxtaposed with the deteriorating infrastructure and services for the general population.

The widening gap

This disparity between the haves and have-nots set the stage for the strike. It shed light on the underlying reasons behind the ongoing conflicts and unrest within the country. Understanding these triggering factors is imperative to effectively address the root causes and pave the way for sustainable solutions moving forward.

Workers’ demand for improved wages and living conditions is not merely a plea for luxuries but a necessity for survival in a society plagued by economic inequality. The disparity in income distribution has reached alarming levels, pushing the labour unions to negotiate tirelessly for a fair share of the financial prosperity that has eluded most of the population.

The recent nationwide strike was not spontaneous, but a culmination of long-standing grievances and unmet promises. Campaign pledges to enhance the minimum wage and the dwindling purchasing power of the local currency created a fertile ground for discontent among the workforce. Economic pressures and the failure of negotiations propelled the labour unions to take drastic measures to draw attention to their plight.

Effect of the strike

When examining the aftermath of a nationwide strike, be it in Nigeria or elsewhere, it becomes evident that the repercussions extend far beyond the immediate cessation of work. The socio-economic impacts of such an event are profound and multifaceted, affecting various aspects of society and the economy.

One of the most pressing issues arising from a nationwide strike is the disruption of the food supply chain. With transportation and distribution networks paralysed, the flow of essential goods, particularly food items, is severely hampered. This disruption exacerbates food insecurity, leading to shortages in different regions and putting vulnerable populations at risk.

The halt in activities caused by the strike in Nigeria resulted in a significant loss of productivity across various sectors. Industries, businesses, and government offices could not operate efficiently, further straining an already struggling economy. This loss of productivity impacts immediate output and has long-term consequences for economic growth and stability.

The uncertainty and disruption caused by a nationwide strike contribute to market instability. Prices of essential goods fluctuate, availability becomes erratic, and consumer confidence wavers. Such market volatility can have lasting effects on the economy, affecting businesses and consumers.

Beyond the economic repercussions, a nationwide strike can also lead to social unrest and heightened tensions among different community groups. The disruption in daily life and the uncertainty surrounding the strike can exacerbate existing socio-economic challenges and strain societal relationships.

As Nigeria grapples with the aftermath of the recent strike, it becomes crucial to address the root causes of conflicts and implement effective resolution strategies. Understanding the socio-economic factors that led to it is essential for preventing future crises and fostering national development.

Strategies to avert strike

Regarding conflict resolution and national development, key strategies and approaches can help curb recurring nationwide strikes and foster positive engagement between labour unions and the government. To achieve lasting solutions, optimising the present window of meetings between the government and the unions, and learning from other countries’ conflict resolution methods is essential.

Addressing the root causes of conflicts and proactively working towards resolving underlying issues is important to prevent recurring nationwide strikes. Implementing transparent communication channels, fostering a culture of dialogue, and promoting mutual understanding can help prevent disputes from escalating into large-scale strikes.

One crucial aspect of addressing conflicts is emphasising compromise, sincerity, and empathy in resolving disputes. By focusing on these principles, stakeholders can work towards sustainable solutions that benefit all parties involved.

Furthermore, creating early intervention and conflict management mechanisms can help address grievances before they escalate. By establishing effective dispute-resolution frameworks and promoting a culture of collaboration, stakeholders can mitigate the risk of frequent strikes and disruptions.

Govt and labour union

Labour unions can explore alternative approaches to constructively engaging with the government. By fostering partnerships based on mutual respect and understanding, both parties can work towards common goals and address issues through dialogue and negotiation.

Collaborative decision-making processes, inclusive policy discussions, and participatory approaches can enhance the relationship between labour unions and the government, leading to more sustainable outcomes and effective conflict resolution.

We cannot be silent about the very important need for the Nigerian government and its officials to cut down on frivolous spending, at least, as a way of demonstrating sincerity of purpose and a justification of the perennial claim that the country has limited resources

The five-day ultimatum given by the NLC and the ongoing discussions between the negotiation teams presents an opportunity for proactive engagement and constructive dialogue. Both parties must effectively use this period to address key concerns, explore potential solutions, and negotiate in good faith.

lessons from other countries

By optimising the interregnum through meaningful discussions, clear communication, and a commitment to finding common ground, stakeholders can work towards resolving the conflict promptly and effectively.

Examining how other countries have handled similar conflicts can provide valuable insights and best practices for conflict resolution, going forward. Stakeholders can enhance their conflict resolution capabilities by studying successful case studies, analysing different approaches, and adapting proven strategies to the local context, thereby achieving more sustainable outcomes.

Learning from international experiences can broaden perspectives, inspire innovative solutions, and inform decision-making processes needed to address conflicts and effectively promote national development.

Compromise, sincerity, and empathy are essential components of successful conflict resolution. By prioritising mutual understanding, demonstrating genuine concern for the well-being of all stakeholders, and being open to finding common ground, parties involved in conflicts can build trust, foster cooperation, and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

 

Need for dialogue

Emphasising these values in conflict resolution processes can lead to sustainable agreements, improved relationships, and long-term stability, paving the way for inclusive development and positive social change. Future productive and peaceful coexistence between the workers and the government in Nigeria calls for collective efforts in curbing recurring conflicts and building a society based on cooperation, understanding, and mutual respect.

In closing, it is important to restate that prioritising dialogue, compromise, and empathy is imperative to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of conflicts like nationwide strikes. Learning from past experiences and exploring alternative approaches can help prevent future conflicts and foster a more harmonious society.

 

 

 

Olufemi Boyede, CITP

FemiBoyede Consulting Limited

Abuja, Nigeria.

 

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1 comment

Oyewole June 22, 2024 - 10:39 pm

Good piece. Just like you opinned, Nigeria problems are multifaceted or multifactorial in nature and require a combinations of strategic options if we have the political will to do the right thing. However, there’s so much trust deficit between the government and the governed, just like the disparities or gulf between the haves and the havenots. If there’s no sincerity leadership, to rescue the country, then a failed state is the option. However, I still believe that Nigeria can be a better place if both the rulers and the ruled play their parts. Thanks for the piece again.

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