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PROJECT TOPIC AND MATERIAL ON SLANTING TECHNIQUES IN FARMERS-HERDERS CONFLICTS REPORTAGE IN SELECTED NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS
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The study was conducted using three major newspapers in Nigeria: The Punch, This Day and Vanguard with the objective of finding the slanting technique adopted by the selected newspapers in reporting famers-herders conflicts. The worked analyzed 36 reports on famers-herders conflicts.The study adopted a content-analyzed design whereby a sample size of 36 were used to get information. Purposive sampling technique was used to obtain features, news, politics, news extra etc.Finally, the study recommended to various media in the country should not take side in publishing such conflicts. It is also recommended to all state governments to ensure that they implement grazing reserve in every village to stop such conflicts to ever occur. As it is argued that some politicians are owners of those herders, they should not take side in handling of the conflicts.
According to Tejumaiye, the influence and power of the press in building, unifying or destroying a nation state, particularly a complex multi-cultural and multi-linguistic society such as Nigeria is all possible with its framing (Tejumaiye, 2005). This study deals with how reports by some Nigerian newspapers use slanting techniques in reporting farmers-herders conflict in Nigeria. It also deals with how Nigerian media has been able to manage balancing in trying to slant reports on farmers-herders conflict. Among the numerous newspapers in the country, only three which are national newspapers that are analyzed in this work. It is believe that the three papers represented the divergent views from north and south poles of the country.
According to Abbas (2009) the Fulani pastoralists and farmers shows that land related issues, especially on grazing fields, account for the highest percentage of the conflicts.
The Nigerian state is a product of British colonialism, it was formerly divided into colonization Southern And Northern protectorate before the amalgamation in 1914. The inhabitants of the protectorate were people of divers ethnicity, people of different culture, religion and economic perception among others. Inhabitants of the Southern protectorate before independence were mainly farmers while the northern protectorate were mainly occupied by herders. Though colonization may be said to have gone for good, its results is causing some conflicts in many aspect of the Nigerian among which are state most especially farmers-herders conflicts. According to Chinua Achebe the rain that began to beat Africa started 500 years ago when the Europeans acting on God’s behalf deliver them-Africans. And ever since then conflict between farmers-herders is one of the major problem confronting Nigeria which is almost regarded to be ethnic or religious conflict.
Studies as observed by (Micheal, 2010; Negedu, 2005) indicated that stores, barns, residences and some households items are always destroyed in many of the violent clashes. Further studies by Ofuku and Isife (2009) revealed that at the south- south region of Nigeria, mostly in Delta and Edo states, approximately more than 40 million worth of crops are usually lost annually due to invasion of cattle. Speaking on the conflict between farners-herders, Olaleye et al (2010) observed that the movement of herders from one area of the country to another is usually caused by the increasing demand for fresh grazing grounds especially during draught period, when the pastoralists move southwards because of the availability of pasture. In most cases, the pastoralists do encounter problems with the local people because farmers’ crops were being destroyed by their cattle (Olaleye et al, 2010).
Inyang, Bassey mentioned that major causes of the conflict between farmers-herders as observed by Haro and Dayo (2005) is that most times the Fulani herdsmen wonder into the fields during growing season while their herds eat or trample on the crops due to the herdsmen’s lack of attention or the cattle’s stray movement, hence tension rise. Sometimes when the large portion of the farm crops are been destroyed, the farmers report to the local chief and youth which sometimes result to killing of some of the Herders’ Cattles and most times eat them. Nweze (2005) is of the opinion that many farmers and herders have lost their lives and herds while others have experienced dwindling productivity in their herds. Others are gradual decline of social cohesion, ethnocentric and religious intolerance of leaders who are themselves sedentary farmers and conflict of cultures (Abbass, 2012; Bello, 2013). And according to Tonah( 2006) most frequent cause of conflict between farmers and pastoralists is the destruction of crops by cattle. And according to Adger and Brooks (2003) several other studies have documented increasing conflict-induced frustrations experienced by these two groups within and outside Nigeria.
As mentioned earlier the influence and power of the press in building, unifying or destroying a nation state, particularly a complex multi-cultural and multi-linguistic society such as Nigeria is all possible with its framing (Tejumaiye, 2005). This, perhaps, explains Anyanwu’s (2004) and Ohaja’s (2005) positions when they say that whatever the audience makes of media information or messages is determined by the way such messages are mediated. Thus, how newspapers present any conflict issues should be a thing of concern to the media in general and newspaper operators in particular. This perhaps explains the importance of newspapers in the reportage of conflict which has over-bearing implication on the unity of any nation.
Numerous studies and scholarly works have been produced that investigated on the manner in which the media report conflict and the impact of these reports on the readership. One of the events that requires the attention of research in examining how the press mediated conflict issues is the Farmers-Herders conflict in Nigeria. There have been cases of farmers’-herders’ conflicts for instance, in Densina local government of Adamawa state, 28 people were feared killed, about 2,500 farmers were displaced and rendered homeless in the hostility between herders and farmers in host community in 2005. Nweze (2005) stated that many farmers and herders have lost their lives and herds while others have experienced dwindling productivity in their herds. Negedu(2005) indicated that stores, barns, residences and households items were destroyed in many of the violent clashes. This was supported by Ajuwo (2004), as cited by Nweze (2005) in his observation that in Imo state for instance between 1996 and 2005, 19 people died and 42 were injured in farmers’ herders’ conflicts. A newspaper study of conflicts/crises in Nigeria between 1991 and 2005, by Fasona and Omojola (2005) found that farmer-herdsmen conflicts accounted for 35% of the major clashes reported by selected Nigerian newspaper.
Recently, an attack by Fulani herdsmen on farmers has been on the increase. The most recent attacks from December 2016 to April 2017 occurred in southern Kaduna, Ossussa Community in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta state and three more communities (Ugondo, Turan, Gabo Nenzev ) in Logo Local Government Area of Benue state. Other attaks occurred in some communities in both Enugu and Nassarawa states. It is estimated that no fewer than 3000 persons were killed in the attacks. The Federal Government has ordered a military crackdown on the farms-herdes who have been engaged in such conflicts and also an inquiry into the proximate and remote causes of these attacks. It has also announced its plans to establish cattle ranches as likely solution to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria. while many believe that it is simply a farming , grazing land and water dispute between the farmers and herders , others argued that the herders clash with the fqrmers who acussed them of failure to control their animals thereby damaging their crops.
The Fulanis under the cattle breeders association claims that they are being attacked by gangs from farming communities who try to steal their cattle and they are just defending themselves. These attacks in recent times have extended to mass killings and butchery. According to Cotula et al the conflicts have not only heightened the level of insecurity, but have also demonstrated high potential to exacerbate the food crisis in Nigeria and other affected countries due to loss of farmer lives, animals, crops and valuable properties (Cotula et al. 2004).
Brief Overview Of Newspapers Used In The Study
The Punch newspaper was founded by two friends, James Aboderin, an accountant, and Sam Amuka, a columnist and editor at the Daily Times of Nigeria in the year founded in 1971/1973.
. In November 1976, a few years after the first print of its Sunday edition, the duo started printing their trademark daily newspaper. Both editions were designed to favour a friendlier apolitical approach to news reporting, combining footage of social events with everyday political news. The paper sustains itself by delving into broad issues that interest myriad people.
However, during the twilight of the Second Republic, political exigencies had introduced conflicts to its original intentions, Aboderin and Amuka parted ways due partly to political conflicts,website http://www.punchng.com/about_us.
Vanguard Media was established in 1983 by veteran journalist Sam Amuka-Pemu with three friends. The paper has an online edition. The newspaper is one of the few in Nigeria that is considered independent of political control, the others being Thisday, The Punch, The Sun and The Guardian. In June 1990, the paper was briefly suspended by Col. RajiRasaki, Military Governor of Lagos State. Its head office is in Lagos. They publish daily and has various outlets in all states in Nigeria. Their coverage include the six geo political zone in Nigeria.
Website www.vanguardngr.com/about_us .
1.2 Statement of Problem
As the conflict between Farmers and Herders in Nigeria rages, the Nigerian newspapers were quick to respond to the crises by giving it coverage. However, while a few researches have addressed some issues in the coverage of Farmers-Herders conflict, it is not certain what the slant or direction of the press is in the reportage of the crises that have transpired. Specifically, it is not certain how the newspapers, in the course of their reportage gave prominence to the conflict or to what extent have Nigerian Newspapers reflected balance in their reportage of Farmers -Herders crises. The question before us now is what has been the slant or direction of the Nigerian Media especially the newspapers in reporting this ever increasing Farmers-Herdsmen conflict in Nigeria. Have they been balanced in their reportage of the conflict? How frequently is this conflict reported and the prominence given to the conflict in their reportage? This is the concern of this study.
1.3 Research Objectives
The following objectives guided the study
- To Find out the Slant/direction of Newspapers reportage on Farmers-Herders Conflict in Nigeria
- To ascertain the degree of Prominence given to Farmers-Herders Conflict in Nigeria by Nigerian dailies
- To know the extent Nigerian Newspapers reflected balance in their reportage of Farmers- Herders crises
- To determine if Nigerian newspapers promote peace building in the course of the reportage of the Farmers-Herders Conflict
1.4 Research Questions
This research work intends to answer the following questions
- What is the Slant/direction of Newspapers reportage on Farmers-Herders Conflict in Nigeria?
- What is the degree of Prominence given to Farmers-Herders Conflict in Nigeria by Nigerian dailies?
- To what extent have Nigerian Newspapers reflected balance in their reportage of Farmers-Herders crises?
- Do the Nigerian newspapers promote peace building in the course of the reportage of the Farmers-Herders Conflict?
1.5 Significance of Study
The print media practitioners in Nigeria are in the midst of an ethnic and religious divide, for them to carefully come out from this confusion, government are to clearly formulate and implement framework aimed at setting a guiding principle on future cooperation between the two warring groups. The policy by the government in such situation is very important. It is significant because it will show a research finding that will be used to set reporting standard in conflict situations for Nigerian journalist. It will be a useful reference material for students, academics and mediators in conflict who rely on information in the dailies. This work will also be a guiding principle for professionals. This study is expected to determine slanting techniques in reporting farmers-herders conflict for the readers to know how the selected newspapers promote peace building.
1.6 Scope of Study
This study examined the slant/direction of Nigerian newspapers reportage on farmers-herders conflict in Nigeria. The study was conducted on The Punch , This Day and Vanguard newspapers adjudged as three of Nigeria’s major newspapers in terms of coverage and reportage (Newspapers in Nigeria.com 2014). The conflict analysis covered only stories on farmers –herders’ conflicts in Nigeria from June – July 2017. It is believe that the three papers represented the divergent views from north and south poles of the country.
1.7 Limitations of study
Numerous factors pose as limitations to the successful completion of this project among which are; Time, it was a factor as the researcher was engaged in other academic activities. The study analyzed only three private Nigerian Newspapers. This is because as at the time of the study government newspapers were not published regularly. At the time of this study literary works on the farmers-herders conflict in Nigeria was not readily available for review. This short coming limited the extent to which related literature was reviewed. In spite of these challenges all available means were exploited to produce earnest result.
1.8 Theoretical Framework
This study is situated on ‘Framing Theory of the Media’. The concept of framing is related to the agenda-setting tradition. This theory was propounded by Erving Goffman in 1974 in his book, Faming Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience: the focus of his book is the basis that the media focuses on certain issues and makes meaning from such issues. Generally, it is assume that the media on most cases publish only what they feel is important or of much significant to the society , the media has the power to let the masses think only what they want them to think or know. This is why Asemah refer frame as, the way media and media keepers organized and present the evens and issues they cover and the way audiences interpret what they provided (Asemah, 2010). This theory states that the media select some certain issues in the society and make it prominent, the media have the power to make people think in certain way, this is why by means of activation of certain constructs, news can encourage particular ‘trains of thought’ which citizens may use of in subsequent judgments” (de Vreese, 2004, p.36). Framing has to do with some biases in order to create a wrong impression or correct an impression. For a report to be framed, there are always activations of certain ideas, judgment, contrasts policies.
According to Harry, Framing of news, for example, may suggest norms of class, ethnicity and gender (Harry 2004). This is why Entman (1993) argues that, Media can legitimate one side in a conflict by displaying news about it more noticeably. Base on this theory, sometimes the placement of news stories may also be regarded as another way of framing. This theory shows that journalist when reporting an event in the media decides what facts to include and which is to be left out or what angle of the story should be published. According to Alao and Umom (2012), they believe that the coverage of a religious motivated group as Boko Haram might not be totally free from reporter’s biases (which sometimes are unintended) that will affect a story is being presented to the public such that the writer will be careful not to offend what is perceived as political, religious, social or economic interest of the owners or shareholders of the media organization.
Akintayo and Isola in supporting this argument states that when presenting and/or projecting a non-state armed militia group in Nigeria, it is certain that framing processes will take into consideration the political and ethnic affiliation of media ownners in relation to the origin of such armed groups (Akintayo and Isola, 2012). As the conflicts between the farmers-herders are on the rampage, the media undoubtedly has a major role to play in conflict resolution. Depending on a number of factors, including ownership, interests of journalists, understanding of the issue in dispute and others, the media can decide to take sides in a conflict and make it impossible for it to be easily resolved. The ethics of the profession demands among others that media professionals should be truthful, accurate, fair and balance in their reports and broadcast. Unfortunately this is not the case in many media reporting of conflicts.
1.9.0 Definitions of Terms
This is the degree of attention given to farmers-herders conflict in news reports in The Punch, This Day and Vanguard newspapers
This is the presentation of news reports from a particular angle that reflect the biases of the newspapers in this study. In other words, particular points of view from which the farmers-herders conflict is seen and presented by The Punch, This Day and Vanguard newspapers.
The disagreement between farmers and herders over farming and grazing rights that has resulted in several killings in the affected areas.
The gathering and reporting of news about farmers-herders conflict. The online Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines it as the act of or process of reporting news.
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