This study investigated influence of cultural background on students interpersonal relationship in Federal Colleges of Education in South-east geopolitical zone. Four research questions and four null hypothesis guided the study. A 24 item researcher developed questionnaire were administered to 1,875 students of Federal College of Education in the South-east geopolitical zone. The data collected were analyzed using mean scores and standard deviation while t-test statistics were used to test the null hypothesis at 0.05 level of significance. The study found that: cultural background influences the level at which students relates with one another in school, religion influences students interpersonal relationship in school, ethnic nationality and affiliation influences students’ interpersonal relationship in school and interpersonal relationship among students of different cultural background could be improved via cultural integration, inter-ethnic marriage, respect for cultural values and adoption of one language as a mode of communication in school.

Background of the Study
Differences in cultural values among Nigerian society has been even before the coming of the colonial masters. Activities prevalent in Nigeria society mostly takes cognizance of the differences in people’s culture. For instance, the nature of the formation of our political parties, trade, religion and profession have some cultural attachment. Culture which is the way of life of a people which is passed from one generation to another which varies from one society to another. Charles (2012) in his view described culture as the shared patterns of behaviour, interaction, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding, and these shared pattern identifies members of a cultural group while distinguishing these from another-group. This observation was in line with Hifstede (2004), when noted that culture is a cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, spatial relations, concepts of the universe and material objects etc. All these distinguishes members of one category of people from another due to their varying cultural background.

Therefore, cultural background connotes the cultural values which an individual is affiliated with, and which influences his or her behaviour as he interacts with his or her immediate environment. Njoku (2004) described cultural background as variation based on ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, orientation, ideology, geographical location religion and languages of a group of people. This relates to the opinion of Ezenwa (2008) who noted that cultural background is a difference in people’s belief system, value, language, attitude, moral, disposition and taboos which makes them unique from other people. In the same vein, Otite and Ogionwo (2001) noted that cultural background denotes the culture in which an individual belongs to, and which influences his/her actions within a social group with its high tendency of discriminating behaviour. This differences in value system among people of different cultural affiliations may affect their behaviour towards others which may affect their level of inter personal relationship negatively.

Interpersonal relationship as the name implies is the mutual understanding between people in an organization which fosters progress in that organization. Okafor (2009) described it as a nature of interaction that occurs between two or more people. In the same vein, Ogbonna (2010) sees it as an association between people which is based on love, solidarity and social commitment with the aim of fostering peaceful coexistence among members of the society, or organisation.

For the purpose of this study, one may deduced that group interpersonal relationship is the positive and effective coexistence among people of a group irrespective of their differences in belief system, language social values and ideologies. In a school setting, a good interpersonal relationship can be likened to a situation where students respects each other, interact freely, work as a group irrespective of their differences in belief system, customs and tradition, language, social class and ideologies with the aim of working towards the achievement of the desirable goals.

However, with the way things are going on in the Nigerian society, tertiary institution inclusive, where there had been series of ethno-religious cum political crisis, one may begin to wonder whether there exist good interpersonal relationship among Nigerian students who may be of different cultural affiliations. This is because what goes on in the school are the microcosom of what goes on in the large society. For instance, Okeke (2011) observed that over five hundred thousand Nigerians have lost their lives in ethno-religious crisis that have engulfed the country since the enthronement of democracy in 1999. Property worth billions of naira were also lost. All these arises due to distrust and hatred among Nigerian ethnic nationalities. Recently the Boko haram insurgence in the northern Nigeria have claimed lives and properties worth billions of naira. All these were as a result of varying values systems, belief and ideologies of Nigerians who never want to irrespective of their differences co-exist as one nation. And this may have contributed to the country’s inability to meet with the challenges of the 21st century.

This problem initiated by differences in cultural background among Nigerians, at the leadership level seems to have exhibited its features on Nigerian students at the tertiary level. For example, during students union election in Nigerian tertiary institution choice of whom to lead is usually influenced by ethno-religious affiliation (Onyelukwe, 2005). there have been constant cases of unhealthy relationship such as name calling, exclusion of students name on the class list due to differences in religion or language among Nigerian students in different occasion. As observed by Onuoha (2007) that in Bayero university Kano at least nine students were killed, churches, business places and homes were burn in the university. This was as a result of remours that Christians had drawn a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed and displayed it on a wall of a mosque. The incident echoes an uproar in the campus.

The nature of interpersonal relationship among Nigerian students across cultural line in the tertiary institution may be influenced by some cultural attachment such as roles assigned by culture to male or female, thereby finding it uneasy to reach out to those of other cultural background. It is against this background that Keller (2009) noted that one of the barriers of good interpersonal relationship among people is differences in cultural affinity and this has affected the affective interpersonal relationship among people in an organization.

Based on the observed trend in the nation of interpersonal relationship among Nigerian students which were occasioned by the difference in cultural background, the researcher finds it necessary to investigate the influence of cultural background on students interpersonal relationship in federal colleges of Education in North-central geo-political zone.

Statement of the Problem

Recently, Nigerian has recorded high rate of terrorism resulting from ethno-religious mistrust and hatred among diverse groups made up of what is known as Nigeria. This has become a source of worry to all and sundry in that it has retarded the country’s socio-economic development. This is an evidence to the fact that there is no good interpersonal relationship among Nigerians who were not of same tribe, religion, political parties and ideologies perhaps due to differences in language, norms, values, and attitude and if this continues, it then means that this country is driving towards anarchy.....

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