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Historically, traditional institution is an institution of antiquity which had existed for centuries or even the time immemorial. The institution, through the traditional rulers, served a great deal of importance in regulating and governing the behaviors and idiosyncrasies of the people under their institutional jurisdiction. This therefore, mandated them with the authority of promoting and managing peace, conflict and unity in their domain within a diverse political entity like Nigeria. However, with the passage of time, some modifications penetrated into the system as regard to the role they should be playing in governance and this is so because of the advent of democracy and the frequent military intervention in the political system. In any case, the institution still remains very relevant and famous in the contemporary political set-up in its indispensable efforts and role in conflict management and promotion of peace, etc. among several roles they play in maintaining stability, peace and orderliness in the societies where they exist. Thus, taking the above concise explanation into consideration, it is clear that the traditional institution or rulers play an important role in conflict management, peace and unity in their domain and also stood the taste of time in terms of discharging the responsibility mentioned above especially in the current dispensation now that is one of the most challenging times in the history of our beloved country, Nigeria. It is based on this that we are going to look at the role of traditional rulers in conflict management in Nigeria, with a case study of Katsina Emirate, Katsina state within the time frame of 2010 to 2015.




The important role played by traditional rulers in managing conflicts in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. By traditional rule or authority, we mean the authority that derives its power and existence through ascription. Traditional rulership is hereditary authority. Those who come under this rubric include Emirs, Obas, Obis, and other lesser traditional office holders hold such offices by virtue of their birth.

There seems to be a serious conflict between the requirements of modern political (democratic) system and the norms and values that are inherent in traditional authority. This contradiction emanates from the perceived incompatibility of these two systems, it was thought that traditional rulers would become endangered species. This prediction has not been borne out by events. To a great extent, the institution of traditional leadership in Nigeria has evolved from being the divine phenomenon in pre-colonial Nigeria through a position of demigod (after the colonial rulers) status during the colonial days, to that of full participants in the socio-economic spheres as partners with the political leaders in contemporary Nigeria. Far from being an irrelevant artifact, the institution has become an important factor in the social, cultural, political and economic realms of the state (Dunmoye, 1988).

Since independence, in 1960, there was no illusion about the relevance of traditional rulers. The possibility of abolishing traditional institutions was ruled out because it was felt that abolitions would disrupt interest articulation and might remove the institution that sustain local government which has direct impact on the grass root populace.

There are three types of authority: relations between a people and their rulers based on obedience from habit and culture, is traditional authority; those based on obedience interest, is "rational authority, and those based on obedience from personal devotion is charismatic authority. Traditional authority is accepted as legitimate because it is exercised as it has been from time immemorial.

This explains the respect traditional authority or rulers enjoy amongst their people. They have moral and spiritual control over members of their communities. It is this influence wielded by traditional rulers that enable them to manage conflicts efficiently whenever the conflicts arise in their domain as they are highly regarded as mentioned above, by their people. This gesture and unique roles played by the traditional rulers goes a long way in preventing mass discontent and eventual; conflict from degenerating and escalating into a full blown crisis. Indeed, traditional rulers played a significant role in fostering harmony through conflict management in their various communities.

This research work will attempt to look at and examine the role of traditional rulers in conflict management for peaceful co-existence with Katsina emirate council as a case study. The research wills also try to uncover some of the allegation made against the traditional institutions for their too much involvement in politics which is rapidly diminishing the respect hitherto attached to these reputable institutions.


This research intends to critically examine "the role of traditional rulers in conflict management in “Nigeria" with specific focus on Katsina emirate council from 2010-2015. Certain pertinent questions need to be asked of which the answer will be provided and covered in the research work. The research questions are as follows:

•         Do traditional rulers have any constitutional roles in curtailing civil unrest in the society, notably, Katsina emirate council?

•         What is the extent, of conflict and the impact of traditional rulers in resolving and managing these conflicts in their domain?

•         What are the challenges confronted by the traditional rulers in the contemporary political setting in Nigeria?


The Major theme (objective) of this research is to assess the role of the traditional institution in conflict management in Nigeria, with Katsina emirate as a case study through the following objectives:

•         To find out whether the traditional rulers have constitutional responsibility in managing conflicts in Nigeria.

•         To discover the challenges which threaten the existence and continued relevance of the traditional institution in Nigeria.

•         To evaluate their commitments in conflict management in the Katsina emirate council.


The method used in data collection for this research work is primary source, which involves the administration of Questionnaire across the Emirate, and for this cluster sampling has been chosen. The research methodology is taken as a body of principle and organizational framework aimed at guiding dedication and generalization in the process of searching for collecting, analyzing and interpreting data. The methodology for this study or research work includes the techniques or method of collection or source of the interpretation and analysis. Therefore, this research work sourced data from primary source which involves the administration of questionnaire across the emirate in order to generate a firsthand knowledge about peoples’ perception, opinion, attitude and belief about the role played by traditional rulers in conflict management with Katsina emirate as a case study.

In sampling of Katsina emirate the researcher selected twelve (12) districts out of the forty four (44). One hundred and twenty (120) questionnaires were designed and ten (10) were distributed to each selected district.

The research work or study also relies on and sourced data from secondary source which includes articles, paper presentations, text books, journals and internet materials. In sampling the population, the researcher employed cluster sampling in distributing the questionnaire. Cluster sampling is used when the researcher recognizes that some populations are distributed in clusters or pockets of settlement and he wants to use the clusters as a basis for selection. If the sub-population represented by each cluster is known, this can be used as a basis for proportional selection of samples such that the number of subjects selected from each cluster will represent its share of the entire population.

This method of sampling is used mainly in densely geographically distributed population. This sampling method makes use of random sampling to select the sample subject from each area.  


This research work is designed to have the following assumption:

•         The traditional institution is the most outstanding entity in promoting peace, unity and stability at the grass root level.

•         Traditional institution is the pivot around which our age old norm and cultural heritage revolve.

•         Creating role to traditional rulers in the constitution will in return help them to effectively manage conflict and reduce civil unrest in their domain.

1.6     SCOPE

This research work is going to cover the entire Katsina emirate only. Therefore, this research will utilize relevant data from the year 2010 to 2015. There could however, be references made to literatures earlier than the said dates.


This research work was impaired by some limitation such as poor response to some of the questionnaires distributed to the respondents, time factors due to the fact that it was carried out while class activities were in progress and financial constraint as a result of transportation to and fro, across the emirate in order to source for primary data.


•         KATSINA - refers to the city of Katsina itself and its environs.

•         EMIRATE - refers to the entire administrative units that made up Katsina Kingdom.

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