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The role of traditional rulers in protracted communal conflicts in Nigeria

Tonson John Damishi, Sango (2013) The role of traditional rulers in protracted communal conflicts in Nigeria. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86514) (KAR id:86514)

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This thesis questions the view that the contemporary role of traditional African rulers is pre-dominantly in mediating and resolving social conflicts within States. The thesis argues that while Chiefs and Emirs in Nigeria play a significant role in resolving conflicts within their ethnic communities, their role is less significant when communal conflicts escalate in intensity and scope. By analysing the interaction between (a) the actions and strategies of traditional rulers, and (b) the escalation, de-escalation and re-escalation of conflicts involving or affecting their ethnic communities, this thesis finds that the cultural role of traditional rulers contributes to re-escalating past conflicts, thereby making communal conflicts protracted. Edward Azar's Protracted Social Conflict (PSC) theory serves as a foundation on which this thesis develops an analytical framework for mapping the Ife-Modakeke conflict and the Jos-Plateau conflict in Nigeria. Both conflicts have a history of sporadic violence that spans three political eras; pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial. The fact that some of the traditional rulers that govern the affected communities also existed from pre-colonial times, presents an opportunity to analyse their past and present actions/strategies in relation to the conflicts' protracted cycle, as well as the political and contextual dynamics that shaped these actions. Although PSC theory serves the purpose of explaining the role of historical and contextual factors in shaping the genesis of PSCs, it focuses more on the role of the State as the sole intervening actor that influences the process dynamics of PSCs. However, the role of traditional actors cannot be neglected when analysing protracted communal conflicts involving identity groups such as Ife and Modakeke, because of their centrality in the governance of ethnic communities in Nigeria. As such, this thesis modifies Azar's PSC theory to include traditional rulers as secondary intervening actors in protracted communal and social conflicts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86514
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Nigeria
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions and public administrations (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:55 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2021 13:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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