THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON PEACE BUILDING IN THE NIGER DELTA AREA OF NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

The study was carried out to ascertain the extent of social media influence on peace building and peace process in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. The study explored the perceptions of different segments of people that reside in the Niger Delta region on the use of social media for peace building. It probed the potency of various social networking sites in peace building activities in a volatile environment such as the Niger Delta, a region prone to violent conflict and economic challenges. Survey research design was used to collect data from the residence of the Niger Delta area. The study location was divided into two clusters. In each cluster, two states were selected because of their geographical closeness and cultural affinity. In the first cluster, Bayelsa and Rivers states were selected as the study area, while the second cluster comprised of Edo and Ondo states. The four states are oil producing areas in the region. The four states at different time have experienced conflict caused by economic, environmental and ethnicity factors. Due to the largeness of the population size for the study, the researcher selected a manageable but representative sample size that make up the study size. Using Yaro Yamane’s formula for calculating the sample, four hundred respondents form the sample of the population. Five research questions were drawn from the five objectives which subsequently guided in formulating the number of questionnaire of the study. Simple percentage and chi-square chart were used to interpret the data generated. Media System Dependency Theory, Uses and Gratification Theory,and Frustration-Aggression Theory anchored the study. The findings showed that the people of the Niger Delta area were aware of the importance of social media in social integration. They were also users of social media. The study discovered that the people of the Niger Delta area were prepared and willing to use the social media for positive activities that could enhance peace building. The study also discovered that indigenes of the Niger Delta area were naturally peace loving and favourably incline to peace building if encouraged, empowered and motivated to do so. Some barriers to the use of social media for peace building were identified in the study, including internet connectivity, and financial constraints among others. The study recommended deliberate use of social media for peace building in the Niger Delta area by key stakeholders.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Table of Contents
List of Table
Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of the Study
1.6       Scope of the Study
1.7       Limitation to the Study
1.8       Definition of Terms
            References

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1       Focus of Review
2.2       Conceptual Issue
2.2.1    Social Media: A tool of Communication in the Digital Age
2.2.2    Origin of Social Media
2.2.3    Social Networking Sites
2.2.4    Social Media Effect on Conventional Media
2.2.5    Social Media and Social Environment
2.2.6    Concept of Peace Building
2.2.7    Overview of the Niger Delta Area of Nigeria
2.3       Theoretical Framework
2.3.1    Media System Dependency Theory
2.3.2    Uses and Gratification Theory
2.3.3    Frustration-Aggression Theory
2.4       Empirical Studies
2.4.1    Social Media as Instrument of Peace Communication
2.4.2    Social Media and Information Conflict
2.4.3    Social Media as Tool of Social Relationships
2.5       Summary of Literature Review
            References

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1       Research Design
3.2       Area of Study
3.3       Population of the Study
3.4       Determination of Sample Size
3.5       Sampling Technique
3.6       Measuring Instrument
3.7       Method of Administering Instrument
3.8       Validity of Measuring Instrument
3.9       Reliability of Measuring Instrument
3.10     Method of Data Analysis
            References

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
4.1       Data Presentation
4.2       Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
4.3       Psychographic Data
4.4       Discussion of Findings

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations
BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDICES


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study
There is hardly any country in the world where the influence of social media has not been touched, as millions of people in rural and urban places share information with one another, either by text, photo or video through various networking sites. Nwabueze (2014) says over three million Nigerians used social media in 2006 in cities, towns and villages across the country. The users of social media in Nigeria have increased in number due to the advancement in communication technology. There are many brands of mobile phones that have developed with in-built social networking applications.

Statistics showed that at least 7.1 million people are using Facebook daily in Nigeria on their mobile phones. This development has made Nigeria to become Africa’s biggest user of Facebook platform. The statistics also showed that almost 100 percent of the total Facebook’s fifteen million active monthly users in Nigeria do so regularly on their mobile phones (Premium Times, September 11, 2015). Furthermore, part of the statistics released by Nigeria’s National Communication Commission in April 2015, have shown that the number of Nigerians accessing social media on the Internet through mobile phones increased to 80.3 million (Premium Times, September 11, 2015). This confirmed the assertion of Mc Quail, (2010) that mobile phones offer user’s real time information, education, entertainment and escape. Therefore social media is a growing communication instrument for all classes of people in the society (Goldstein, 2002, p.432).
Some observers have linked the expansion of social media to its capability to promote freedom of expression, enhance social relationships, and extend human communication. So, social media is becoming a modern communication instrument for building social structures, social relationships, group networking, and social interaction (Littlejohn & Foss, 2008, p.324).
Apart from Facebook which started out as a networking site to connect college students, and which as at the second quarter of 2016, has about 1.71 billion monthly active users (www.statista.com), there are several other networking sites that the offer users different applications of communication facilities. One example of these social networks is Twitter which is a social media platform that allows users to post short “tweets” or 149 character messages. Twitter is a good way to share links and keep up with breaking news about a given topic. Its main purpose is to keep up-to-date with friends and it is also being used by advertisers. Twitter in the second quarter of 2016, has the micro blogging service averaged at 313 million monthly active users (www.statista.com). Also YouTube, another network site, is a video sharing website that allows people to share videos, and blog which is an online journal where an individual can post regular commentary and receive feedback (United States Institute of Peace, 2011). Social networking platforms have reduced the cost of mass communication to the level at which almost anybody can afford (Dominick, 2011, p.13).


According to the United States Institute of Peace, the key element of social media is its interactivity, which allows users to engage with others and produce and disseminate their own content. Social media shares the same concept with new media which is an umbrella term that covers media tools being used in participatory and interactive ways. Rather than going through media gatekeepers, that is, executive editors who decide what is newsworthy and what is not, social media users can access information any time on different electronic devices, create their own content, provide feedback, or actively participate in discussion. The difference is that, where media professionals in the conventional media once took time to develop and disseminate content, that process now happens in real time and is in the hands of many more contributors, that is, the social media users (United States Institute of Peace, 2011).

A group of researchers, commissioned by the United States Institute of Peace, known as Search for Common Ground, discovered that social media has become a new communication apparatus that is providing alternative communication means to conventional media, particularly with availability of different mobile phones that enable crowd sourcing, social networking and convergence (United States Institute of Peace, 2011).

In relation to peace building issue, there are divergent views as to whether human beings are naturally inclined to peaceful or conflictual activities. But the fact still remains that many people would prefer to be in a state of quietness, calm, freedom from mental agitation and serenity (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, 2004), than to be in a state of war and fear. By uploading and downloading peace messages on social media, those who love peaceful activities are able to unite and engage in peace building that will positively impact on their environment. Conversely, provocative messages on social media are detrimental to peace building (unn.org).
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) defines peace building as the process intended to address the root of conflict, to reconcile differences, to normalize relations, and to build institutions that can manage conflicts without resorting to violence. The peace building process involves a diverse set of actors in government, community and civil society. It involves short-term actions to prevent violence. Peace building activities, according to the USIP, involve......

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