Nigeria experienced a civil war between 1967 and 1970 which claimed millions
of lives on the Federal and Biafran sides. Studies exist on trend, execution and
termination of the war but the pre-war and war time conflict management strategies
have not been fully explored. This study therefore, examined the strengths and
weaknesses of the various management strategies adopted by the conflict parties prior to
the outbreak of hostilities as well as those employed during the war with a few to
identifying lessons derived from the management strategies.
The study adopted a qualitative approach, utilising a combination of descriptive
and case study research designs. Data were obtained from primary and secondary
sources. A total of six in-dept interviews were conducted with surviving war-time key
actors and stakeholders from the Federal and Biafran sides. Two Focus Group
Discussions were held in Enugu and Kaduna with war veterans. Archival materials were
also consulted. Secondary data were collected from war-time memoirs, minutes of the
Aburi accord, decrees, edicts and newspaper publications. A combination of content and
descriptive mode of data analysis was employed.
A mix of joint-problem solving and third party intervention strategies such as
conciliation and mediation were adopted before the war commenced. The failure of
these strategies to transform the conflict accounted for the optional strategy of
confrontation and strategic withdrawal as the last resort. The leaders and parties to the
conflict did not adopt compromise, cooperation and avoidance, but opted for
competition as an alternative to joint problem solving. The inability to strike a balance
between the cooperative and competitive orientation by the Biafran leader was
fundamental to the failure of local and international concerted efforts to transform the
conflict peacefully. This attitude made the 30 months war not only inevitable, but also unduly prolonged with devastating impact on both human and material resources. These
were further complicated by the disposition of some of the mediators which created
distrust between the disputing parties. The lessons from the conflict management
strategies of the war are that the parties to the conflict were invariable not very
experienced in understanding that the cost of war is enormous and more devastating
than peace, which creates room for accommodation and joint problem solving. Also,
strategic scenario analysis should include best, middle and worst case scenarios before
making violent confrontation an option in any conflict.
The pre-war and war-time conflict management strategies of the Nigerian civil
war failed to achieve the desired result mainly because of the attitude and disposition of
parties to the conflict. Leaders, therefore, need to be skilled in conflict management
while dealing with intractable conflicts, so as to prevent its escalation. Efforts at
peaceful management of conflicts should include compromise, accommodation, openmindedness, trust and respect for human dignity.
The Public Access, L (2021). PRE-WAR AND WAR-TIME CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OF THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR. Afribary.com: Retrieved May 08, 2021, from https://afribary.com/works/pre-war-and-war-time-conflict-management-strategies-of-the-nigerian-civil-war
Library, The Public Access. "PRE-WAR AND WAR-TIME CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OF THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR" Afribary.com. Afribary.com, 20 Mar. 2021, https://afribary.com/works/pre-war-and-war-time-conflict-management-strategies-of-the-nigerian-civil-war . Accessed 08 May. 2021.
Library, The Public Access. "PRE-WAR AND WAR-TIME CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OF THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR". Afribary.com, Afribary.com, 20 Mar. 2021. Web. 08 May. 2021. < https://afribary.com/works/pre-war-and-war-time-conflict-management-strategies-of-the-nigerian-civil-war >.
Library, The Public Access. "PRE-WAR AND WAR-TIME CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OF THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR" Afribary.com (2021). Accessed May 08, 2021. https://afribary.com/works/pre-war-and-war-time-conflict-management-strategies-of-the-nigerian-civil-war