Policy Briefs

Tracking Topical Issues:  Sleeping on the Feet with Open Eyes! Newspaper Coverage of the Fulani Herdsmen/Farmers’ Conflict in Nigeria 

Nigeria continues to witness, almost on a regular basis, violent clashes between and among her numerous ethnic nationalities.The most recurrent among these crises involved the Fulani herdsmen and farmers which, apart from the human casualties, has cost the nation over 14 billion dollars between 2012 and 2015 (according to UK – based Mercy Corps) yet with no end in sight. In line with their functions as the public sphere and a melting pot of divergent views and ideas needed for societal development, newspapers play important roles in the coverage of these national issues. It is however instructive to knowhow Nigerian newspapers are covering the Fulani / farmers’ clashes in term of what issues are being raised or emphasized in their coverage. In other words,what is the dominant frame of the published stories and who are the major speakers on the crisis? It may also be interesting to know from the stories published what actions or recommendations the news definers are suggesting as solutions to the festering crisis? This study is a quantitative content analysis of the stories on the herdsmen/farmers’ crisis published byThe Guardian and The Punch newspapers between January and May 2016.Findings showed that in spite of the volatility, emotions and the passion that this ethnic violence evoked among Nigerians, stories of the Fulani herdsmen / farmers’ clashes did not enjoy much prominence in the newspapers compared to other stories on politics and the anti- corruption fight of the Federal Government. Besides, more attention was given by the papers to politicians, groups and associations as the primary sources of news instead of the actual victims of the crisis- a situation which may have led to the relatively high propaganda and politicization of the issues involved which has made a quick resolution of the crisis by government elusive. Based on the findings,the paper suggests that newspapers should place more emphasis on their social responsibility functions in times of national crisis than on considerations of commercial viability. 

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Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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