THE IMPACT OF BORDER COMMUNITY CONFLICTS ON INTER-STATE RELATIONS IN WEST AFRICA: A CASE STUDY OF LOLO AND MADECALI COMMUNITIES OF NIGERIA AND BENIN REPUBLIC

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THE IMPACT OF BORDER COMMUNITY CONFLICTS ON INTER-STATE RELATIONS IN WEST AFRICA: A CASE STUDY OF LOLO AND MADECALI COMMUNITIES OF NIGERIA AND BENIN REPUBLIC

Abstract:

This study examines the Impact of Border Community Conflict on Inter-State Relations in the West African Sub-region. Specifically, it focused on the 2009 conflict between Lolo and Madecali border communities of Nigeria and Benin Republic. The border conflict between the two communities over “TunganKungi” area threatened the long history of interactions that hitherto existed between the two settings; weaken socio-economic activities; and introduces various claims to land(farmland) based on political definitions of identity, citizenship and nationalism. The objective of this study was to examine the nature of the 2009 conflict and its impact on inter-state relations between Nigeria and Benin Republic.The study employs the qualitative research method through an empirical survey by conducting specialized interviews (Key Informant Interviews), focus group discussions and direct observation. Both the primary and secondary sources were explored for analytical discourse. While primary data were collected from affected community leaders, victims, youths, marketmen and women using FGDs; Key Informant Interviews with staffs from the NBCs of Nigeria and Benin, the ECOWAS Commission; the Benin Embassy in Nigeria; and Security officials (Gendarmes, Customs and Immigration) provided further research data. The study adopts some of the ideas of the Neo-Functionalist Theory(which underscore the significant role of actors in inter-state relations) and the PSC Model (whichassumes that, lack or deprivations of basic human needs are fundamental causes of communal conflicts).Findings showed that, due to the arbitrary nature of the boundary designed by the French and British colonialists, the towns of Lolo and Madecali were decided unilaterally in favour of the two powers without taking into cognisance the dynamics of the affected communities. Despite its identity dimension, the conflict did not seriously affect the nature of inter-state relations between Nigeria and Benin (diplomatic relations in particular), due to strong political commitments by authorities of both states. Strong mechanisms which include regular joint border visits; regular sensitization campaigns; etc. were put in place. However, the instrument to be adopted in definingthe border and the problem of re-integration with communities across the two entities remain unresolved. This study recommends among others thatauthorities should reflect clearly and agree on the appropriate instruments to be adopted in delimiting the Lolo-Madecali border; identify local peace-building priorities that would address the strategic issue of farmland; and also adopt the culture of prevention, while mechanisms for dialogue and peaceful resolution of the border conflict must be made more appealing and accessible.

THE IMPACT OF BORDER COMMUNITY CONFLICTS ON INTER-STATE RELATIONS IN WEST AFRICA: A CASE STUDY OF LOLO AND MADECALI COMMUNITIES OF NIGERIA AND BENIN REPUBLIC

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