This paper examines the role of public relations (PR) in the peaceful implementation of eminent domain in Nigeria. Eminent domain is the right of government or its agents to expropriate private property from their owners for public use, with payment of compensation. Globally, such development plans are hardly implemented peacefully due to perceived injustice, misinterpretation and the refusal of owners to let go of their property. The unrest and destruction of lives and property following such initiatives suggest that despite its prospects, eminent domain, to a large extent, may negatively impact on community life and tamper with the opportunities of minorities. Because peace amounts to harmony in personal relations, and public relations is the state of maintaining a harmonious relationship between an organization and its publics, the paper recommends that an understanding of the role of public relations in the peaceful implementation of eminent domain is crucial if the efforts being made presently in Nigeria (e.g., in Enugu State) to implement this policy will yield the desired result.
Eminent domain is the right of government or its agents to expropriate private property from their owners for public use with payment of compensation. As observed, globally, such development initiatives are hardly implemented peacefully due to perceived injustice, misinterpretation and the refusal of land owners to let go of such prized possessions. Despite its prospects, the unrest and destruction of lives and property associated with eminent domain initiatives suggest that few policies have done more to destroy community life and opportunity for minorities. Such results have negated the peace and sustainable development goals of eminent domain. The good news is that both goals can be achieved in one fell swoop.
Peace means freedom from war and violence; harmonious coexistence without disagreements; and state of calmness and serenity (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2003). The World Bank report on Millennium Development Goals indicates that sustainable development cannot be achieved where there is no peace and stability, as conflict and violence are widely recognized as the number one obstacle to achieving them (Golmohammadi, 2014). Perhaps the most credible backing to the World Bank position is Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which seeks to: “Promote peaceful, inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. This assertion is insightful in the sense that peaceful eminent domain practice is a sure precursor to sustainable development.
There is an ominous lacuna in current literature on the role of public relations (PR) in fostering peaceful eminent domain implementation. Perhaps, the conspicuity of this lacuna comes from the dictionary definition of peace which includes harmonious coexistence. Harmonious coexistence entails personal relations between peoples, and government; and coexistence within government established frameworks. Since PR is the state of maintaining a harmonious relationship between an organization and its target publics, a study of its role in the peaceful implementation of eminent domain in Nigeria is crucial, because the implementation of eminent domain is often very difficult in the country. In Enugu State, for example, the efforts of the government to implement this policy in Enugu North will yield better fruit if the public relations tool is employed. This paper, therefore, seeks to review how public relations could be an effective tool in the peaceful implementation of eminent domain in Nigeria.
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