Public Relations As A Tool For Conflict Management In The Niger Delta Region

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Public Relations As A Tool For Conflict Management In The Niger Delta Region


This study deals with public relations as a tool for conflict management in the Niger Delta (A Case Study of Niger Delta Development Commission). The specific area of study is Port- Harcourt Umuahia, Owerri and Yenogoa.

Some hypotheses were put up to guide during the research work.

Literature review and some reference were made to relate the contemporary conflict in the region by the researcher in chapter two of this work.

The researcher then used questionnaire oral interview and direct observation for collecting the necessary data and information required the Yaro Yamemi statistical tool was used to determine the sample size. The validity and reliability of instruments were shown.

In chapter four, the researcher presented and analyzed the data gotten from the questionnaire by using simple tables and percentages. Also the hypothesis put up were vividly fasted using the chi-square formula.

Finally at chapter five, findings of the study shown that ecological degradation is the major cause of the conflict in the Niger Delta and public relations plays a major role in the management of the conflict and its tools are very effective.

Some conclusions were drawn and recommendation made at last. Suggestions for further study was also given.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Public relations were not generally a full-time profession until after the first world war-1914-1918. The first practitioners were the press agents of the 1900’s. During that period, public relations was not recognized as a public relations were restricted to publicity and commercial notices (Thompson 2003:39). A change in the traditional public relations practices came first in the united states when IVY L. Lee, a journalist was hired in 1906 as a publicity adviser to a private industrial establishment (a group of anthracite operators) for image creation improved workers attitude and improved cooperate and competitive policy formulation with the aim of achieving the organization’s goals. (Benton 1974:285) Public relations become recognized as a management function. The emergence of public relations as a management function led to further improvement on public relations tolls like public opinion, publicity, advertising propaganda press release conference etc. government agencies began to hire experienced people for publicity function in the 1920’s during that period further development of public relation’s practices was achieve public relations is the art and science of achieving harmony with the environment through mutual understanding based on truth and full information (black 1989:210). This means that public relations is a distinctive management function which helps in establishing and maintaining mutual lines of communication, understanding acceptance and cooperation between a organization and its public.

As a management function, public relations play a vital role in formulation of competitive business strategies such as cooperate planning research marketing information and other from of business intelligence geared towards the realization of the organizations goals. (Gruing 1994:33) Organization public relations management and policy formulation came after the world war 11 (1938-1945) particularly in west Europe. After the war organized public relations penetrated into Asia, Africa and latin America through colonialism. The British west African public service for instance had the public relations department in 1945.(Omeokwe 1997:33).

Government public relations department performs various management functions. These include evaluation public attitude identification and formulation of policies and procedure for community government relations planning and execution of programmes and actions to earn public understanding and acceptance and the use of information to influence public opinion. Social responsibility was seen by the government as a unique way of promoting peace and order in communities with natural resources. This gave rise to derivation principle after 1945. The government also adopted to use of corporate social responsibility to enhance harmony and goodwill in communities hosting multi-national oil companies like the shell-BP (Amu 1998:12) Over the years there have been reported cases of arms conflict, oil pipeline vandelization attack on multinational oil companies and their expatriate staff some of who are either held hostage or killed in controversial circumstance and agitation for improve standard of living of the oil producing states the Niger Delta. The has led to intervention by the federal government the oil producing companies international quarters and the public on ways to solving the crisis in the Niger Delta through public relations approach. The focus of this study therefore is to investigate the role of public relations in the management of crisis in the oil producing areas of Nigeria using the Niger Delta development commission (NDDC) as a case study.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The prevalence of crisis in the Niger Delta indicates that an adequate public relations approach has not been given to the area in the management of the crisis. Corporate social responsibility and community relations are necessary elements of harmonious co-existence. The Niger Delta constitutes a unique region in the development process of Nigeria because 99 present of the oil economy are produced in the area. That not with standing, the area is characterized by pervasive poverty and environment degradation with lack of intrinsic development stagnation in agricultural productivity and other areas. It appears that the government and the multi- national oil companies do not adequately discharge their social obligations to the Nigeria Delta. A proper assessment not analysis of the social and economic need of the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta using public relations approach has become necessary. Presently, the environment and ecological problems of the Niger Delta emanating from oil exploration and exploitation is enormous. Inadequate attention to these problems by the government and the multi-national oil companies operating in the Niger Delta can cause social tensions between the local communities and oil companies on one hand and with the state and federal government on the other. The youths out of frustration and indignation takes to violent actions. This in turn lead to general deterioration of both political and social cohesion in the region. The military adopted an adhoc measure in addressing the problems in the Niger Delta by setting up the presidential task force under general Sani Abacha regime and later the oil mineral producing areas development commission (OMPADEC) by general Abdusalami Abubakar. The adhoc commission did not live up to their expectation necessitating the emergence of Niger Delta development commission (NDDC). Since the establishment of the Niger Delta development commission in 1999,t he crisis in the Niger Delta has intensified. The Egbosu, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP); the Warri youths movement, Dokubo militant group among others have continued to unleash violent attacks on multi- national oil companies and oil pipeline vandalization in the Niger Delta. The focus of this study therefore, is to investigate the role of public relations in the management of the crisis in the Niger Delta using the NDDC as a case study.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The major objective of the study is to investigate the role of public relations in the management of the crisis in the Niger Delta.

Specifically the objectives are:

  1. To assess the role of public relation in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta region.
  2. To investigate the cause of the crisis in the Niger Delta region.
  3. To identify the social responsibility of the multination companies in the area.
  4. To make an appraisal of public relation’s tolls used in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta
  5. To make recommendations that will bring solution to the conflict in the region

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to serve as a guide to the study:

  1. What role do public relations play in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta region?
  2. What are the causes of the conflict in the Niger Delta region?
  3. Do the government and oil companies have any social and development obligations to the Niger Delta?
  4. What public relations tools are used in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta region?
  5. How can the conflict in the Niger Delta be reduced?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following hypothesis were formulated to pilot the empirical investigation:

  1. H0: Public relations do not play a major role in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta.
    H1: Public relations play a major role in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta.
  2. H0: Ecological degradation is not the major causes of the conflict between the Niger Delta and the multinational oil companies.
    H1: Ecological degradation is the major causes of the conflict between the Niger Delta and the multinational oil companies.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study is relevant in the following directions:

  1. The study paints a vivid picture of the role of public relations in the management of conflict. Those who hold management positions in both private and public establishments are some of the beneficiaries of the study.
  2. The study show how neglect emanating from environmental degradation and ecological problems can causes conflict in the Niger Delta. Environment agencies therefore stand to benefit from the findings of the study
  3. The study as a veritable instrument of research material in the hands of subsequent researcher carrying out a study on the major and sub-themes of the study.
  4. Public relations practitioners and scholars will also benefit from study in that it contains the management of conflicts using public relations tools
  5. Government and multi-national oil companies will as well benefit from the study because it shows how planned development projects in the Niger Delta can reduce conflicts between the host communities and the oil companies in one hand and the government on the other.
  6. This study also contains suggestion that could reduce the degree of conflict between the contestants in the Niger Delta.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The study is restricted to the role of public relations in the management of conflict in the Niger Delta region between 1999 to 2005, using the Niger Delta development commission (NDDC) as a case study.

1.8 Limiations of the Study

During the research work many problems stemmed up in which some of them are:

Financial Constraint:

As a student there was not enough capital to spend in transport and fact finding and borrowing of necessary literature that would have helped in the writing of this research work.

Time Constraint:

The time specified for the completion and submission of the project is considered inadequate by the researcher.

Academic Work-Load:

The study coincided with the period the researcher was preparing for higher national diploma (HND) examinations.

Management Constraint:

The respondent oil not co-operate as was expected. The staff was reluctant in answering some of he questions asked. All this problems notwithstanding the researcher still made a concerted effort in giving the work a good attempt

1.9 Definition of Terms

The technical terms used in this study are defined here for proper understanding of their meanings and applications in the study.

Public Relations:

As used in this study means a management function which helps to establish and maintain mutual line of communication understanding and cooperation between the Niger Delta and the government and the multi-national oil companies operates in the region.


With particular reference to their study means public opinion inter-personal. Communication between the Niger Delta and the government as well as with the oil companies. Tools includes propaganda advertising conference periodical films and special events organized in the Niger Delta as a means of information educating sensitizing and pleasing with the Niger Delta militant groups to cooperate with the government.


Means disagreement tussle violent demonstration among contestants. It also man’s physical fighting killings thug grey pipeline vadalization attacks on multi-national oil companies in the Niger Delta. Conflict also man’s violent agitation against neglect and marginalization.

Niger Delta:

Means the central southern part of Nigeria measuring 70,000 km forming the cruse oil belt of Nigeria. Nigeria Delta includes Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Beyalsa Cross Rive, Delta, Edo Imo, Ondo and River States.

Niger Delta Development CommssioN (NDDC)

A commission set up by the federal government of Nigeria in 1999 for creating an enabling environment for the development of the Nigeria Delta region


Conflict resolution using public relations approach.

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the efficacy of public relations as a tool for conflict management.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of public relations as a tool for conflict management in Niger Delta.

5.2 Summary

The study tried to establish if the public relations programmes of the government and the oil companies contributed to peace building in the Niger Delta. Both the survey and the focus group established that the necessary drivers for peace building process are yet to be in place. In the first place, the nature of public relations practice in the Niger Delta suggests that government and the oil companies do not use the two-way symmetrical model of public relations. Though the policy 173 framework of government and oil companies pretends to be people centred but the actual execution of projects and programmes arising from such policy is at variance with the needs and aspiration of the oil communities. Failure to listen to the opinions of the strategic stakeholders and absence of effective feedback mechanism collectively defines the nature of public relations model of the government and the oil companies as one way, publicity/press agentry, public information and two-asymmetrical. When government and oil companies discourage expression of opinions, the oil communities will not be able to make their needs and aspirations as strategic publics, known.

5.3 Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, therefore, the conclusion of this study is that the community relations strategies adopted by the selected oil companies are not adequate in preventing and resolving company-community conflicts in the Niger Delta. The most important reason for this is the lacuna that exists between the strategies the oil companies believed host communities preferred for conflict resolution and the ones actually preferred by those communities. The gulf seemed to have consumed efforts made by the companies, thereby leaving little proof of their responsibilities to their hosts. The lack of grassroots approach also reduced the effectiveness of the strategies, since oil companies quoted large sums of money being spent on development and host communities said they got none of it. The communities’ representatives appropriated the fund earmarked for development while the companies believed that since they represented the communities, they were delivering the benefits. Hence, a grassroot approach would serve as a check for the excessiveness of community representatives.

5.4 Recommendations

The absence of basic features of control mutuality, trust and satisfaction in the interchange of relationship point to the nature of public relations that does not take the interest of all stakeholders into consideration. This type of public relations practice represents the press a gentry and or publicity model, which exalts the interest of the organization above that of its publics.

Peaceful co-existence is evident in a relationship where mutual trust, exchange and communal relationship feature prominently. Any organisation that believes in peaceful coexistence must strive to sustain fair and just treatment, show concern for the welfare of others, seeks to be reliable, prioritize the needs of other stakeholders, encourage competence, capability and sound principles as advocated in excellence theory. Such organisation should avoid deception, favour for favour, compromise and selective care.

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