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This study was carried out to examine the internal conflicts in Nigerian universities; sources, effects and resolutions. Specifically, the study identified effective ways of managing internal conflicts in Nigerian universities and examined if there are strategies on ground to manage internal conflicts in Nigerian universities. The study employed the survey descriptive research design. A total of 141 responses were validated from the survey. The study adopted the Social Structure Theory of Conflict by Ross (1993). From the responses obtained and analysed, the findings revealed that sources of internal conflicts in Nigerian tertiary institutions are poor communication, power struggles, changes in relationship and conflicting roles. Furthermore, the effective ways of managing internal conflicts in Nigerian universities are prioritize areas of conflict, identify points of agreement and disagreement, listening to the parties involved, evaluate and understand the emotional responses of the people involved and develop plans to work through the conflict. The study recommend Conflicts should be amicably resolved as it brings unity, trust, productivity and sets precedence.






Background Of The Study

Humans relate socially, having a symbiotic relationship with their fellow human beings. In the course of this relationship, it can be extended to the point that they are brought under one body. Each human is unique in his or her own way and entitled to his or her opinion; that is why when relating among each other in the absence of tolerance, conflict is inevitable. When these differences are brought to a fore, it results in fights, strives, misunderstanding, and disagreement. Conflict is inevitable in any organization (Akomolafe, 2002). It is a part of human social life (Gillin, 2004). Conflict is very common amongst humans, and no person is immune from it as it cuts across all facets of human life. It can be found in the homes, churches, organizations, markets, schools, including tertiary institutions, etc.

Universities in Nigeria contribute greatly to the social, political and economic development of a nation, but with the presence of conflict these may not be achievable. Universities are training grounds for youths of a country to equip them with the necessary skills to fit into the labour market and form a formidable human resource of a nation. Results gotten from researches prove that conflict is a common problem in Nigerian universities. It was discovered that conflicts in Nigerian universities are not new; rather they keep eating deep and affecting the progress of education (Garba et al., 2001). Conflicts in universities arise from a lot of reasons like the government controlling administrative functions of Nigerian universities and differences in the conditions of service. Inasmuch as conflict in Nigerian universities is known to be negative, it can still be used to elevate the institution to an effective level if the proper conflict management method is adopted (Holton, 1998). A good example of conflict between the institution and the government is that of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the government. It is one of the major conflicts in Nigerian universities. ASUU occurred at several intervals 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009 and 2016. Garba et al. (2001) in his research proved that conflicts between students and authorities make up to 75% in University of Lagos, 98% in University of Nigeria and 31% in University of Ibadan. The conflict between ASUU and the government: 41% in University of Abuja, 31% in Ibadan and 27% in Zaria. Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) accounted for 26% of conflicts in UNILAG, 30.08% in Ibadan and 45% in Zaria.

Nigerian universities are posed with both internal and external forms of conflicts. There are so many conflicts in the university environment, though these conflicts help to boost the university. Internal conflicts like university reorganization, faculty performance, intellectual property, internal grants, students’ riot, etc. some conflicts are particular to the university makeup like academic freedom, research, and managing of personnel matters by peers. Other forms of conflicts in the university campus include problems resulting from students’ social life like dating, sexual harassment, and other student misbehaviors.

However, it has been proven statistically that the problem with conflicts in Nigerian universities is improper management of conflict. It is said by some researchers that conflict leads to progress and group formation. Other researchers like Madubuke (2000) describe the after-effect of conflict as being a thorn on the flesh, especially when it escalates.

Suffice to say that there is need to carry out an in-depth study on conflicts in Nigerian universities, sources, effects and resolutions and that is the bent of this study.



The high level of internal conflicts in Nigerian universities is quite worrisome to many stakeholders (Tayo, 2006). Incessant riots in Nigerian universities have led to loss of lives and property. In a research conducted, it was recorded that forty students lost their lives between 1986 -1996 and about eight academic staff loss their lives during students’ riot. This adversely has lead to countless disruption of school activities.

However, another cause of internal conflict in Nigerian universities is inadequate provision of basic amenities needed by the students. Most times university students take to protest which might take the shape of riot to express their grievances over the unavailability of these basic amenities like water, electricity, etc. absence of these pushes students into conflict with the school management.

In addition to the above point, unnecessary increase of school fees has many times lead to conflict between students and the school management. Not just increase in the school fees but other educational fees. A clear example was in 2014 when UNN students protested over increase in ICT fees which they have been paying in subsequent years yet not enjoying ICT services. Due to this, they took to the streets and disrupt both academic and economic activities.

All these are some of the problems noted in the course of the study and the researcher seeks to proffer solutions to.

1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY                          

The major objective of this study is to examine internal conflicts in Nigerian universities; sources, effects and resolutions.

Other specific objectives include:

  1. a)   To identify effective ways of managing internal conflicts in Nigerian universities.
  2. b)   To examine if there are strategies on ground to manage internal conflicts in Nigerian universities.


The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

  1. a)   What are the sources of internal conflicts in Nigerian tertiary institutions?
  2. b)   What are the effective ways of managing internal conflicts in Nigerian universities?
  3. c)   Are there strategies on ground to manage internal conflicts in Nigerian universities?
  4. d)   What are the effects and resolutions of internal conflicts in Nigerian tertiary institutions?


H0:   There are no effective ways of managing internal conflicts in Nigerian universities.

H1:   There are effective ways of managing internal conflicts in Nigerian universities.


This study aims at informing the general public, tertiary school administrators and the government on internal conflicts in Nigerian universities.

Parents need to be enlightened to know that some students indulge in unscrupulous acts that generate conflict in Nigerian tertiary institutions; therefore they need to caution them against it.

Tertiary school administrators need to discharge their duties in serving the students appropriately, in other to avoid cases of riots by these students. Also, measures must be put in place by tertiary school administrators to manage conflict among students.

Finally, the government needs to fund tertiary institutions appropriately in other to avoid both internal and external conflicts.

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.


This study is restricted to internal conflicts in Nigerian universities; sources, effects and resolutions.

  1. 1.        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).
  2. 2.        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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