This study, “Public Perception of Newspaper Coverage of the Herder-Farmer Conflicts and its Influence on National Security: A Study of Radio messages” evaluates the media as a major player during periods of conflict and its influence on the public understanding and perception of conflict situations. The agenda the media sets and how they are reported can also impact on the direction or outcome of such issues. The aim of this study was to examine the extent and patterns of coverage of the herder- farmer conflicts by Radio messages in Nigeria. The agenda setting theory and individual difference theory formed the theoretical foundation to the study. Findings revealed that Radio messages accords much importance to issues on farmers-herders conflict. The research method adopted for this study was survey method using simple random technique. The study was concluded that, Radio messages played some part in the mitigation of the herders-farmers conflict and performing their watchdog role in the society. The study recommended among other things the urgent intervention by the government so as to address the root and situational causes of the conflict.
Keywords: Farmers, Herders, National Security, Newspaper, Media Coverage.

1.1 Background of study
Insecurity is defined as the feeling and state of uncertainty or anxiety about oneself because of lack of confidence, being open to danger or a threat and there is lack of protection. However, no continent is spared of violence as both developed and developing countries around the world is struggling with one form of internal conflict or the other. The upsurge of conflicts in African continent has been internal in nature since the end of cold war between the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States of America (USA) (Cilliers and Schunemann 2013).

Since Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, there has been a recurrent narrative of internal conflict and these conflicts are often incited under religious and ethnic pretexts which sometimes results to killings and destructions of lives and property.

Scholars and Observers have identified a number of factors responsible for the outburst of internal conflicts in developing countries like Nigeria and these factors are but not limited to the following: poor governance, small arms proliferation, ethnic and religious rivalry, poverty etc.

Laws and policies on religious practices also contribute to the conflicts. For instance, in the year 2000, there was a violent clash between Christians and Muslims in some Northern states of Nigeria due to the introduction of Sharia law in those States. Homer-Dixon (1998) also attributed environmental scarcities to such conflict in developing countries.

Research shows that the conflict between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers in Nigeria is mainly a resource-based conflict. The cause borders mainly on the competition to have access to land and free water for grazing and farming.

Mass desertification of vegetative land and drought in Northern Nigeria makes herders to migrate to other parts of the country so as to provide green pasture and water for their livestock. In the course of their movement to other regions, the nomadic herdsmen settled in some farming communities where green vegetation and water are readily available.

Furthermore, the dispute arises between herders and farmers over an allegation from both parties (farmers and herders). On one hand, farmers accused herders of destroying their crops by encroachment of herded livestock on their farmlands and contaminates their source of water in that community. On the other hand, herders accused farmers of poisoning, killing and stealing their cattle and also denied them access to grazing routes.

Pastoralism is a conventional occupation among 14 groups in Nigeria and they are Kanembu, Kwoya, Fulani, Manga, etc. (Blench 2010, Muhammed, Ismaila and Bibi 2015).

Abbas (2012) further stressed that the Fulanis are the most prominent herding group for they own up to 90 percent of the livestock. The conflict between herders and farmers has turned to be more fatal and bloodier due to the proliferation of firearms among herders. Although the argument here is that they carry guns and other sophisticated weapons so as to protect themselves and their livestock from bandits who steal their cattle but whenever there is controversy between them and farmers, the herders make violence an instructive reaction because of the possession of arms among them.

To the Fulanis, lives can be sacrificed if their cattle can be in jeopardy, in the same way, farmers cannot fold their hands and allow their produce to be eaten up by herder’s cattle. This has been supported by scholarly argument that a typical Fulani-pastoralist would care less to live if the survival and sustenance of his herd come under serious threats. This explains the magnitude of aggression and vindictive violence that the Fulani herders show in their disputes with settled farming communities (young and Sing’oei, 2011).

The major player during the period of conflicts is the mass media because of the surveillance function they perform. The media surveys the society, gathers and disseminate information that is of great important to the public. The public are concerned/interested about the safety and security of their environment and as such when conflict arises, their attention is turned to the media so as to keep them abreast of unfolding events.

Tumbler (2009) argues that journalists place emphasis on violence and conflict so as to produce and increase the value of commodity that is supposed to generate profit.

Nevertheless, it is expected that the media’s social responsibility to the public should compel a foremost commitment so as to minimize confusion and contribute to social order during conflict situation. Agenda set through media reporting, can directly or indirectly determine the course a conflict situation will follow.

Gilboa (2009) also added that investigating the function and dysfunctions of the local media should be a research priority because the local media’s coverage of conflicts affects the people engaged in the conflict. The Nigeria press is a veritable Instrument to what the perception and understanding of the public would be of such conflict.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
The level of violence and economic cost from clashes between herders and farmers tend to pose a major national security concern for Nigerians which require adequate measures to be put in place to address this.

The six geo-political zones in the country have suffered the loss of lives and properties as well as displacements due to the herders-farmers’ conflict. The violent also have direct impact on food security. According to Mercy Crop (2015) the estimated 13.7 billion dollars is lost annually as a result of the conflicts which is potential revenue that should help to boost the economy.

Furthermore, these attacks by herders according to 2015 Global Terrorism index have now assumed the ill-fame of terrorism (Institute of Economics and peace, 2015). There is, however, the paucity of empirical literate on the role of the mass media in this conflict. Non-reporting or under-reporting of certain conflict by the media could be influenced by lessening and resolution of such conflicts.

1.3 Objectives of the study
1. To determine the level of prominence given to the conflict between herders and farmers in the selected newspaper.

2. To identify the major sources of news reports on herders and farmers conflict.

3. To know if there is any importance radio messages attaches to the herders-farmers conflict.

4. To determine whether radio messages coverage of the herders- farmers glorify or support act of terrorism.

5. To know if the crisis between herders and farmers is actually a conflict or acts of aggression by one party.

1.4 Research Questions
1. What is the level of prominence Radio messages gives to the conflicts between herders-farmers conflicts?

2. Who are the major sources of news reports to Radio messages on herders-farmers’ newspaper in reporting/ publishing herders-farmer conflicts?

3. Does Radio messages coverage of the conflict between farmers and herders supports the act of terrorism?

4. Is the crisis between herders-farmers a conflict or acts of aggression by one party?

1.5 Hypothesis
H1: To know if the public perception or opinion could add any significant value in curtailing the conflict between farmers and herders.

Ho: To know if the public perception or opinion will not add any value to curtail the conflict between farmers and herders

1.6 Significance of the study
The present state of the insecurity in Nigeria makes this study a timely one. The findings of this study can be useful in further understanding the difficulties associated with insecurity in the country. The Nigerian government and security agencies may come to appreciate the urgency required to tackle the herders-farmers conflict through the analysis of this study.

This study would help establish the influence of the Nigerian press in conflict situation. The press will be appraised of its shortcomings if any and proffer solutions on how to promote conflict resolution. It will also build a case for journalist to undergo training in aspect of reporting conflict.

This study will also contribute to giving out knowledge to the society and help to get more information about the coverage of the farmers and herders crisis by radio messages. For researchers in the field of mass communication this would serve as a reference material in conducting similar research.

1.7 Scope of the study
This study will investigate the radio messages coverage of the farmers-herders crisis in Enugu state and its influence on national security. The punch has national circulation and is on newsstand daily and easily accessible to readers. The restriction of the study to radio messages only is because this is an academic research within a short duration and limited financial resources.

1.8 Limitation of the study
This study is designed to get the public opinion or perception about the herders and the farmers conflict in Nigeria and its influence on national security, using radio messages as a case study.

The first limitation of the study will be, not being able to cover other newspapers for a better understanding of the study because of duration of time. Another limitation will be using Enugu state as the only area of study because of duration of time.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 40 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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