1.1   Background of the study

Understanding the right strategies Abi local government area of Cross River State will apply to manage intra and interstate conflict is very essential to its administrative responsibilities, because this is one sector any administration in the area will want to put more interest by deploying all available resources, in other to improve his performance towards socio-economic development. Applying the right strategies in conflict management is important because of the numerous challenges it brings to the growth and development of any society or organization (Olakunle, 2008).

According to Olakunle, (2008), with a basic understanding of the conflict management strategies, small organizations and societies can better deal with conflicts before they escalate beyond repair. Estes & Wang,  (2008) further identified the following; accommodating, avoidance, Collaborating, compromising, and competing methods as the best strategies in managing conflicts in any organization or society. Management of conflict is very essential for development to prevail in an organization, but  considerations on the high costs of  managing conflict and the consequences it may bring to any organization or society cannot be pre-determine, hence the need for  adopting the above mentioned strategies becomes very imperative (Bartlett, 2010).

According to Cross River State report on conflict resolution in 2010, different categories of conflicts have been recorded in several communities of Abi local government area with their neighboring communities both within the state and neighboring Ebonyi  and Abia state respectively. Some of these conflicts include; the conflict between Igbo Imabana and Assiga community in Neighboring Yakurr L.G.A, the conflict between Anong and Ekori community in neighboring Yakurr local government Area, and other interstate cases of conflicts too numerous to mention. Other cases of conflicts that have been identified as interstate conflicts in Abi local government area of Cross River State which seem to be the most recent conflict is the conflict between Adadama community and Amagu communities in Ikwo local government area of Ebonyi.  Eyewitnesses said the crisis arose from a renewed land dispute between Adadama and Amagu communities.

The study on conflict management strategies and performance in Abi Local government area of Cross River state, indicates that how conflict is managed in the society  impacts the process and outcomes of conflict, both for individuals and for organizations. Poorly managed organizational conflicts affects the level and frequency of future conflicts and has a negative effect on learning, productivity, and job performance (Meyer, 2004).

1.1   Statement of the Problem

Applying the right strategies is a challenge towards effective Conflict management in most societies  and this trend has an adverse effect on the society or organization  not being enable  to achieve its set objectives in terms of socio-economic development, due to poor management of conflict thereby resulting to prolong stay of conflicts and also generating of more conflict . So many societies have broken down for their failure to adopt effective conflict management strategies, the entire globe is seriously threaten with different categories of conflicts which have been seen to be poorly managed due to their failure to adopt effective conflict management strategies (Paul & Dean, 2002).  Africa in particular is facing very serious times in terms of different degree of unresolved conflicts for one reason or the other, hence the need for adoption of effective conflict management strategies becomes a challenge to every societies or organizations if they must improve in performance. The problem of differences in opinion is however prevalent in every society and this becomes an impeding factor towards adopting effective conflict management strategies which results to  stagnating  developmental activities in most societies.

1.2     Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is, to analyse the strategies of conflict management and  performance as relates to Abi local government area of Cross River State. Other specific objectives include:

(i)  To identify the possible causes of conflict in Abi local Government Area of Cross River state.

(ii)  To determine the nature of conflicts in Abi local government Area and its attendant effects on socio-economic development of the area.

(iii)  To determine the possible strategies of managing conflict in Abi local Government Area of  Cross River  state.

(iv)  To identify the impact, the various strategies conflict management will have on performance of Abi Local Government Area.

1.3  Research Questions

The following research questions were asked to guide  the study;

(i)  What are the possible causes of conflict in Abi local Government Area of Cross River state?

(ii)  What are the possible strategies of managing conflict in Abi local Government Area of  Cross River  state in other to improve performance.?

(iii)  What are the nature of conflicts in Abi local government Area and its attendant effects on socio-economic development of the area?

(iv)  What are the impacts of conflict management strategies on performance in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River state?

1.4   Research Hypothesis

In other to achieve the objectives of this study, the following hypothesis were formulated;

1.   There is no significant relationship between effective conflict management strategies and performance of Abi local government area.

2.  There is no significant relationship between conflict management strategies  and  socio-economic development in Abi local government Area.

3.  There is no significant relationship between effective conflict management strategies and causes of conflict in Abi Local Government Area.

1.5    Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study focuses on the impact of conflict management strategies on the performance of Abi local government Area. This local government area is chosen because of ease in accessibility and also being local government area with diverse goals. The limitation of the study is due to insufficient financial resources, time and materials that have hindered the researcher from travelling  to every part of Abi local Government Area in other to source for vital information from Areas that have experience one form of conflict or the other.

1.6    Significance of the Study

This study will be of value to organizations both public and private in order for them to identify some salient causes of conflicts and to be able to manage the situation judiciously using some of the conflict management strategies as mentioned above. The study will also arouse both states and federal government interest to see the need in providing adequate resources to local government areas and also speed up the process of local government autonomy in order to minimize the rate of conflicts in this third tier of government that is directly responsive to the grass root. The study will also provide a platform for management of organizations to direct resources appropriately in order to minimize conflicts situations in the workplace. The study is also expected to be of great value to academicians and practitioners in the field of conflict management, public relations and public administration. The study can also be useful to researchers for further studies.

1.7 Historical Background Of The Study Area: Abi Local Government Area

Abi local government area was first created in 1983 during the shagari’s administration and was later abolished due to the overthrow of that administration a in a coup de tat in December 1983.The present Abi local government area was recreated out of the defunct Ugep local government area in 1991 by the General Ibrahim Babangida  Administration. People from Abi include Come from mainly Ethnicities such as the Agbo subgroup of Igboland  and the Bahumono (thisdayonline ,2004). One of the largest tribes within Abi Local Government is Bahumono, which includes seven villages  namely : Ediba, Anong, Usumutong, Afafanyi, Igonigoni, Ebom, and Ebiriba. There are linguistic differences among the Bahumono people with the major variant being the Ohumono language. They are all historically known to have migrated from a place within the hills of Ruhura (ekpon a ruhura) called Hotumusa (old town) which lies in a region between the present day Ediba and Usumutong villages. The Ediba people at Hotumusa had hunters who found a riverine location where Ediba situates presently. The hunters related the news to her people and Ogbudene led the people in a siege against the locals of the river dwelling and drove them across the river. Four of Five of the Ediba families namely: Henugwehuma, Henusokwe, Enihom and Henuowom  quickly left and colonised the river area. The Ezono clan made up of Bazorang, Batonene and Fonahini, the last family, decided to stay back at Hotumusa, where they had always been the head land owners and leading family among the other five. This small clan has had its own dynastic legacy, festivals, deities and new yam celebrations to this day.

Lying midway on the Cross River , Abi local government area  stretches between longitude 8.00 to 8.100 E and latitude 5.000 to 6.300 N. It is bounded on the north and west by Abia and Ebonyi states respectively and on the east and south by Yakurr and Biase Local Government Areas. It has an estimated population of about 112,941 people And a land mass of approximately 334.5316sqkm, the occupation of the people is predominantly farming activities such as livestock, fishing and cash crops.

1.8 Definition of terms

Strategy: is a high level method put in place to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. (Henry,2010)

Conflict: is a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, values, or goals (Algert & Watson, 2006).

Performance: is the accomplishment of a given task measured against preset known standards of accuracy in other to satisfy expectations. performance is deemed to be the fulfillment of an obligation, in a manner that releases the performer from all liabilities(Rivers,2005).

Management: is the act of dealing with situations in a successful way. That is, bringing situations like conflict  under control. (Ngu, 2008).