1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Land is a vital natural resource that hosts and sustains all living things namely; plants, animals and man. It is a fixed socio-economic asset that aids production of goods and services and hosts virtually all activities that take place on earth (Magel, 2001). The nature of land and types of its components dictate what must exist on it. Hence, savannah land hosts grasses while tropical land is characterised with hardwood forest among others. To an extent, land influences climate and dictates lifestyles of settlers on it cut across the globe. Land host houses and towns where origin of a man is traced. This is because all communities are located on land and their territories are defined by it. In another dimension, the sovereignty of a kingdom is a function of the area of land it occupies. This is an indication that territorial defence is with the purpose of securing or retaining certain piece of land. The above mentioned arguments reveal that land is central to continuity of life, indispensable in physical development and complex in social relations of production in the economic world. In other words, to every land, there is the socio-cultural dimension to it. As a result, conflict over land is often combined with strong economic, spatial, cultural and emotional values. There are indications that man’s complex socio-economic, cultural and physical attachments to land have placed land in a sensitive and unique position. Conflict interests among communities to secure territories, conserve socio-economic resources and carry out physical development activities and practice customs and traditions on land have given birth to untold crises over the ages (Abegunde, 2010). In another dimension, these have resulted in conflicts that have affected millions of people and resulted in lost opportunities in terms of social disorder, economic depression and destruction of housing and basic infrastructure in the physical development of communities (Gizewski and Homer-Dixon, 1995; Justino, 2004). In another dimension, all types of conflicts on land entail significant private and social costs in human environment. Conflicts as used in this study refer to disputes, disagreements, quarrels, struggles, fights and wars between individuals, groups or countries (Angaye, 2003). They may be short or long in tenure, but impact on residents and their environment in a direct or indirect way. Such conflicts may sometimes be advantageous to a group or affected parties. However, experiences in African nations have shown that the negative effects of conflicts far outweigh their merits (Colletta, Kostner and Wiederhofer, 1996; Bisnwanger, Klaus and Gershon, 1996; Shah, 2003; Salim, 2004). Direct losses on land can be reflected in loss of farmland, waste of land based mineral resources, urban land degradation during and after conflict, inability to conserve landed properties with cultural or historical values, inaccessibility to urban land for meaningful socio-economic or physical development programmes among others (Schock 1996; Addison, 2001; Abegunde, 2010). Of significance here is that conflicts initiated by tussle over land often results in further losses on land and its related resources. In other words, land as an impetus of development can become impediment to same in the built environment. This could be disgusting where much value is attached to land by the local people without government regulations. Literature has shown that this is predominant in African communities (Oyerinde, 2005; Ayo, 2002; Asiyanbola, 2008). To them, land is seen as the path to heaven for the departed relatives, the abode of ancestral and a devouring god to the defaulters and abusers of it (Ayo, 2002). That could be why Tuladhar (2004) conceived that land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living and countless are yet to be born. The study therefore centred on Ebonyi state, Nigeria, a populated and civilised region in the country. It is an attempt to understand land disputes in relation to land related resources and development in the study area.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Conflict over access to natural resources is common throughout Nigeria, especially now that the population is so large. Most conflicts are unnecessary in that they can be resolved if the groups in conflict wish to find a solution. There are some traditional institutions to settle disputes and resolve conflict, but they are facing unprecedented challenges and quite new types of issue. They therefore need support from outside, from government, NGOs and concerned individuals. The type of support depends on the problem itself and it has become clear that even the nature of the problem is not well understood. Much of the conflict in Nigeria revolves around wetland areas. In the past, many of the low-lying areas next to rivers in Nigeria were hardly used by farmers because of problems of disease, particularly malaria and river-blindness. As a result, they were mainly used for grazing by nomadic herders and by fisherfolk. Although they had no officially certified ownership of these lands, they regarded themselves as the owners by right of use. There has been small-scale riverside cultivation for centuries in Nigeria, mostly along the rivers in the far north, making use of the shaduf, a hand operated water-lifter. But it was really the increase in human population in Nigeria during the twentieth century that has driven a much greater use of wetlands for food production. During the colonial era, large irrigation schemes were popular, but these were never very successful, and it became clear to both the government and donors that it would be more effective to support traditional small-scale producers. In the 1970s, the first small petrol pumps began to appear in the markets, either distributed by the ADPs or bought on the open market. The 1990s in Nigeria saw a massive expansion of pump-based fadama cultivation throughout the northern half of the country. This coincided with large-scale urbanisation and a growing demand for horticultural products in all regions.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine natural resources and land disputes. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the major contributors of land disputes in Nigeria.
2. To assess the level land disputes in Nigeria.
3. To examine the relationship between the lack of availability of natural resources and land disputes or conflicts in Nigeria.
4. To assess the availability of natural resources in Nigeria
5. To recommend possible solutions to the reoccurring land disputes in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the major contributors of land disputes in Nigeria?
2. What is the level of land disputes in Nigeria?
3. What is the relationship between the lack of availability of natural resources and land disputes or conflicts in Nigeria?
4. What is the level of availability of natural resources in Nigeria?
5. What are the possible solutions to the reoccurring land disputes in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant relationship between lack of availability of natural resources and land disputes in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant relationship between lack of availability of natural resources and land disputes in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense importance towards crises resolution resulting from land disputes by recommending ways of ending the current land disputes as a result of natural resources in Nigeria in general. The study would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing a further study on the subject matter.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on natural resources and land disputes (A case study of Alike and Izzi in Ebonyi state).
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
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