Resolving Communal Clashes for lasting peace in Cross River State:

His Excellency, Sen. Prince Bassey Edet Otu, Cross River State Governor

Written by: Nsa Ekpenyong and edited and published by: Amb. Agim Godwin Apple, Universal Peace Federation UPF, General Consultative Status on Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, Finland.


Cross River State, Nigeria is a South-South home to everything of values, interests and rest.

A place endowed with exceptionally rich velvety vegetation. Its wonderful people represent a fusion of different and rich cultures, traditions, and a lively community spirit noted for their affability, hospitality, and welcoming smiles.

The state is abundantly blessed with outstanding resources such as extensive rainforests, minerals, mangrove swamps, enthralling wildlife, and a network of clean rivers, mountains, and hills with eye-charming views.

Cross River State, known for its commitment to safety and peace, provides a calm atmosphere that nurtures growth, tourism, and economic progress, making it a fascinating home for both inhabitants and visitors. It is a standout beacon of beautiful coexistence, abundant opportunities in natural wonders, and an enticing destination that leaves a lasting impression on all who experience its charming delight.

Over the years Cross River has built a long-standing reputation as the most peaceful state among the 36 states in Nigeria Like every other sociable environment, it also inhabits socio-economic, ethnocultural cum political challenges.

Though the state has managed to suppress most of its internal undercurrents, it has witnessed several passive, active, chronic and notable communal clashes arising from various factors, including but not limited to land disputes, boundary conflicts, political rivalries, resource allocation, and ethnic tensions or other egocentric dynamics.

These clashes have resulted in loss of lives, displacement of communities, repulsion of tourists and loss of economic opportunities, development setbacks, impaired social cohesion, identity issues, social stigma and marginalisation.

Today, the aura of the new government has brought calm to most of the communities. The people are hopeful, the government will hold its line by deepening resolutions and peace processes.

The state is home to a varied range of ethnic and cultural groupings, it had seen a resurgence of communal confrontations, resulting in tensions and periodic outbreaks of violence. Various local government areas in Cross River State, including but not limited to all of the local governments in the northern and central senatorial districts have seen communal confrontations one way or the other. Calabar Municipal, Akpabuyo, Bakassi, and Calabar South are the few in the southern senatorial district that are not rife with community strife, despite having their peculiar social squabbles. While successive governments have made some headway in addressing the situation, some of those confrontational oversteps have resulted in conflict postponement, reactive suppression, and peace suffocation.

These conflict activities are fertilized and sustained by reactive conflict energies within and outside the communities.

It could manifest as the strength of indoctrinated youths, traditional enhancement mechanisms, sponsorship, and personalities or warmongers. Some personalities are mostly warcraft men whose historical rhetoric is to indoctrinate the conflict energies to drive into conflict based on doctored narratives, exploiting societal divisions and manipulating emotions.

These narratives might invoke a sense of identity, righteousness, or vengeance, further fueling the flames of discord. It’s essential to recognise that most clashes are caused by egocentric stories rather than ideally economic or resource-related factors, as is often insinuated by the conflicting parties.

These self-centred narratives can range from ideological differences and power struggles to personal ambitions and the desire for dominance. Unearthing, understanding and dealing with these underlying energies is key to resolving conflicts and redirecting the community energy towards more constructive pursuits.

His Excellency Sen. Prince Bassey Otu, was made evident on this subject, prepared and ready to serve with a unique perspective of conflict transformation that is subtly expressed in the People First Covenanted Brochure.

In resolving communal conflicts in the state His Excellency Senator Prince Bassey Otu will take a new turn into an uneven route of deploying his mandate as a need-tracking and problem-solving tool, His leadership will put in a substantive political power in proactive conflict transformation models.

The good governance articulated in the people-first mandate will be the major tool in conflict transformation through decentralization, democratisation and localisation of intervention projects and programmes in any susceptible regions. So far, the government is driving this directly towards solving communal clashes in the state, the engagement of our able Deputy Governor Rt Hon. Peter Odey in collaboration with the Benue State Government, through its Deputy Governor, the Managing Director of Safety Emergency Management Agency, the Surveyor General, the Special Advisers on Security and other well-meaning stakeholders.

It was a sober event of consolation to the Yache community in the Yala Local Government Area who have passed through a lot of in-conflict- activities. With continuous intervention, it is believed that the parties will sheathe their swords by embracing peace and development in their homeland. It is an unavoidable fact that the new governance cannot rely on previous techniques and expect improved results, people, culture, and disputes are all dynamic. Rural community conflicts require a multifaceted approach and sustained efforts involving effective governance and good leadership tailored to the unique context and needs of each rural community.

This informed opinion aims to kick off a comprehensive discussion on the key elements of community peace and security, with a focus on education, empowerment and employment as vessels to drive conflict transformation interventions to dismantle conflict energy and free communities from perpetual communal clashes. Firstly, measuring conflict triggers is of paramount importance. Often community clashes follow a distinct progression of stages, each marked by intra and inter-relationship tensions and varying degrees of engagement.

The unchecked pre-conflict takes a geometric progression with devastating impacts on the community before the intervention responders arrive to keep the peace. But what if conflict can be predicted? What if conflict can be stopped before it starts? And what if the peace cycle can be sustained through Proactive transformational intervention programmes and projects instead of a reactive, coercive and confrontational method of fighting escalated conflicts in its active state? Trigger Measurement allows for proactive identification and mitigation of potential sources of conflict before they escalate into full-blown crises.

By analysing underlying factors such as economic disparities, political tensions, ethnic divisions, and resource scarcity, policymakers, interveners, mediators and stakeholders gain valuable insights into the root causes of potential conflicts.

This knowledge empowers them to implement targeted interventions, stimulate dialogue, and address grievances, effectively reducing the likelihood of violence erupting.

Early measurement of conflict triggers also facilitates the allocation of resources towards conflict prevention strategies, ultimately saving lives, preserving stability, and promoting sustainable development. In essence, understanding and addressing conflict triggers before they intensify enables a more comprehensive and lasting approach to peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Simultaneously, setting out a lasting solution to communal clashes in the state is based on a combined community and social conflict network analysis in the communities.

One way to assess the conflict situations in communities is to use a Conflict Assessment Framework, a valuable tool for comprehensively analysing conflict data within communities. It provides a structured approach to understanding the intricacies of these conflict metrics through in-depth and methodological analysis, delving into their root causes, dynamics, trends, energies, and actors. By employing this, analysts can track and uncover the rooted factors that contribute to tensions, whether they be socio-economic disparities, cultural differences, political power struggles or ego-centric myths.

This framework encourages an exploration of the historical context, as well as current triggers, that sustain the conflict.

This will aid in identifying the various parties involved and affected, including actors, personalities, sponsors, energies, groups, or institutions, and gauge their interests and perceptions. This depth of analysis enables practitioners and policymakers to formulate more appropriate strategies for conflict resolution and peacebuilding. By recognising the multiple layers of a conflict and understanding the motivations and grievances of those involved, the framework helps develop interventions that address the core issues and build sustainable solutions. In essence, the Conflict Assessment Framework offers a comprehensive approach to analysing community conflicts, offering insights that pave the way for an effective and lasting resolution.

Also, a community peace and security summit is an important follow-up step towards honing community leadership for long-lasting peace and economic success. ‘Wars begin in men’s minds, and it is in minds of men that defences for peace must be constructed.’ Organising a Community Peace and Security Summit from time to time provides a vital platform to illuminate community leaders about the intrinsic link between peace and development, aligned with the overarching goals of the government.

This summit will serve as an opportunity to boost dialogue, shared understanding, and collaborative action.

By bringing together community leaders, government officials, and relevant stakeholders, the summit facilitates the exchange of insights and experiences, promoting a holistic approach to community well-being. Through discussions and workshops, leaders gain valuable insights into the significance of peaceful coexistence in driving sustainable development, improved infrastructure, and enhanced quality of life.

As community leaders become enlightened about the government’s objectives, they can play a pivotal role in championing initiatives that prioritise conflict resolution, social harmony, and collective progress, thereby contributing to a future that is both peaceful and prosperous. Next, focusing on the young people’s empowerment to positively redirect their youthful exuberance through targeted training, education, and empowerment programmes guided by strong leadership and good governance acts as a proactive conflict prevention method. These initiatives generate employment prospects for youngsters by providing them with relevant skills and information, thereby promoting economic growth and social inclusion. Ethical governance and visionary leadership also ensure clear resource allocation and equitable regulations, creating a climate that makes conflict-driven activities less appealing.

This comprehensive approach not only solves unemployment but also improves youth participation, societal cohesion, and sustainable development, reducing the likelihood of conflict. Then, to address the complex issue of conflict energy, governments must adopt a multifaceted approach that encompasses various dimensions of the problem. Some community wedge wars based on the dependency on the dictate of their traditional energy enhancement, countering traditional sentiment in the African setting is a major challenge that must be uprooted with a generalised knowledge of human dignity and peaceful co-existence by anti-crime counsellors and social engineers.

Addressing conflict sponsors requires cooperation and intelligence, to identify and hold accountable those who provide financial, logistical, or ideological support to conflicts.

This entails robust intelligence sharing and coordinated sanctions to cut off the resources fuelling conflicts. Countering false narratives necessitates a comprehensive information campaign that promotes accurate and unbiased reporting, critical thinking, and media literacy to combat the spread of misinformation, falsehood and fake news.

Also managing conflict personalities entails creating rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for individuals involved in conflicts, offering a path for them to disengage and contribute positively to society. An integrative filtration and adaptive approach, informed by collaborative efforts and a commitment to long-term stability, is essential for governments to effectively address and mitigate conflict energy in its various manifestations.

In addition, Developing proactive conflict transformation mechanisms made up of innovative tools and effective programmes to mitigate communal conflicts requires a collaborative effort involving a diverse range of actors such as social engineers, stakeholders, leaders, anti-crime counsellors, and conflict mediators. Social engineers play a pivotal role by designing measurement assessments and interventions that address the underlying social dynamics and narratives that contribute to conflicts. Engaging stakeholders ensures that the perspectives and needs of all affected parties are considered, fostering a sense of ownership and inclusivity in conflict resolution strategies. Leaders, both at the community and institutional levels, provide guidance, influence, and resources necessary for the successful implementation of these programs. Anti-crime counsellors contribute their expertise in understanding criminal behaviour, motive and intents behind conflict can help to identify and address factors that exacerbate violent conflicts. Conflict mediators, skilled in facilitation and negotiation, play a crucial role in de-escalating tensions and building dialogue among conflicting parties.

Together, these dedicated individuals and groups collaborate to develop comprehensive and sustainable initiatives that not only address the immediate triggers of communal conflicts but also promote long-term peace, unity, and social cohesion. In conclusion, to resolve communal clashes for Lasting Peace in Cross River State, communities must open their arms wide enough to receive every proactive conflict intervention project by engaging with the government and undertaking various initiatives to undo conflict energies early enough. Every community at the pre-conflict, escalation or post-conflict stage, no matter the peculiarity, toxicity and complexity of any communal conflict has a silver lining for win-win awards. In a process of finding peace, security and cooperation is a collective duty that requires all hands to be on deck.

They should be ready to be flexible in a gainful process to freedom and healing within and amongst these communities by leaning to peace through sacrifices and compromises. The communities’ youths, elders, leaders, women and stakeholders must be committed to available windows for economic engagements through education, empowerment and employment to emancipate themselves and their communities. With good governance and good leadership, a refined proactive transformation technique will nip in the bud any surreptitious acts of warmongers and conflict personalities before they commence. From all standpoints, there is no logic in engaging in the unproductive mission of lose-lose wars characterised by losses, pains and agonies. Investing time, strength and resources in promoting inclusive dialogue and understanding by organising community forums and peacebuilding workshops that bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds will be a plus to the community dwellers’ well-being.

©️ Ekpenyong, Nsa

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