The recent judgement of the Appeal Court which dethroned the Olofa of Offa in my opinion is the carelessness of the traditional institution which failed to adopt a joint problem solving techniques which is the African means of resolving dispute.
I am of the opinion that, the traditional institution in Offa community had left the issue to last too long without resolving it in a more African way, the result of which is the recent dethroning of the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi.
It is worthy to note that we don’t return from court and remain friends. This I believe is a pointer to the negative consequence that may befall Offa community irrespective of the final outcome of the case at the Supreme Court.
Irrespective of who wins the court case, the negativity would never be discontinued if it is allowed to start and the enmity shall last long unless it is prevented now.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), as the name implies, is an alternative method of resolving disputes, in a less formal but very friendly way.
It has been established that relationship is mostly valued in this part of the world, but one of the factors that could easily turn a good relationship into a sour one is dispute, particularly when such disputes is to be resolved through court.
As earlier noted, there is a popular Yoruba saying that says “we don’t come back from court and still be friends”. Contrary to this, there is an alternative method of resolving disputes which do not in any way injure the friendship status of the parties.
ADR is a popular form of mediation. The mediator acts as a facilitator assisting the parties in communicating and negotiating more effectively, thereby enhancing their ability to reach a settlement. It is not the mediator’s role to adjudicate over the issues in dispute and indeed the mediator has no authority to do so. Mediator could be an individual, association, cultural group, community elders and so on.
Mediation is not a process to force compromise, although compromise is an element of the process. Each party’s limitations are respected and a party is only expected to make a shift in its approach to the problem if it becomes convinced that it is reasonable to do so.
The practice of ADR has given room for parties to resolve their differences without losing their relationship.
It is my belief that the ongoing dispute in Offa doesn’t just involve the two ruling houses in the battle to emerge victorious, it in reality involves the entire community as a whole, and the outcome may likely instigate members of the community against each other.
If this is the case, I expect that the Offa community would act swiftly to resolve the ongoing dispute in a less formal way amicably to avoid destroying the peaceful relationship between its people.
Amb. Abdulrazaq O Hamzat can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org