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Media and Conflict Resolution in Nigeria (a Study of the October 2020 Endsars Mass Protest in Rivers State)

Abstract

The role played by media in conflicts has been an issue of discussion all over the world. Although media influence has increased tremendously in the last decade, researchers are yet to agree on the degree and magnitude of its influence in conflicts. The media are always known to set agenda for the public to follow; this they do by raising salient issues, occurrences and events as they happen in the society and bringing them to the public. The media set agenda of peace, love, unity etc. This research work therefore attempts to examine the relevant role played by the media in resolving the October 2020 Endsar Mass protest in River state. In addition, the research work examines the way and manner the media have been used to manage the crises during the October 2020 Endsar Mass protest. The aim of this study was to analyze the role of media in conflict management, with reference to the October 2020 Endsars Mass protest. The specific objectives were to establish the media accessibility level and the various types of media coverage; to establish the extent to which media escalated and/or deescalated violence and to determine how media could influence selected human factors towards conflict in the area of study. The research utilized both primary and secondary method of data generation. Instruments were adopted in gathering information for quality work. Instruments such as News-papers, internet, radio, journals and television were used to gather information about the activities carried out by the media in conflict situations. Other methods adopted were through questionnaires and interviews. Findings show that the media have a crucial role to play in conflict resolution. Findings further show that the media have not been giving objective reports of the crises and this tends to escalate the crises. Based on the findings, the research work concludes that the extent to which the media are used to resolve crises in the state is minimal and recommends, among others, that the media should be constantly used to preach peace, so as to bring about lasting peace.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background To The study

Conflict can be defined as the actions, propaganda, diplomatic, military or commercial threats that different countries that have disagreed on an issue take towards each other. They may occur from incompatible positions over an issue, hostile attitudes and certain diplomatic or military actions that may infringe on the interests of others. Alade, (1997)

Nzemeke, (1998) is of the view that conflict in general sense, is dysfunctional in the international system. That is, it prevents the efficient working of the system, makes for the diversion of world resources to non-productive uses and it wastes human energies and abilities on comparatively worthless objects. He argues that it is an endemic feature of human history and that the idea of abolishing it is unreal. This is because academic psychologists are of the view that acts of violence may have positive appeal to man and that daily observation reveals that violence and sex seems to have a lot of attraction to men and women. Also, that conflict is built into the human system and indeed all systems of human relations.

Self-evident factor in social relations which are sufficient to account for conflicts whether or not involving overt violence are: that conflict is somehow rooted in the gene only waiting for a suitable moment to break out, values or moral preferences of human groups differ from one another, existence of inherited cultural values and practices of states that make common mind on their mutual affairs difficult and the goals, intentions, wants, plans, desires, fears of individual human beings differ and differ within the same nation, towns and families.

Alade (1997) is of the view that in every situation of conflict, there are usually parties to it, issues at stake, attitude of both government and action taken. Omu, (2001) lists the sources of disputes to include boundary disputes, exploitation and victimization of an ethnic group, religious rivalry, misunderstanding and mutual distrust, ideological differences, poor leadership and economic underdevelopment amongst others.

Nzemeke, (1998), argues that conflict resolution which is regarded as a new branch of international study involves a collection of proposed technique ranging from the reduction of psychological abnormalities among leaders of states to play out international conflicts in the form of games so as to release and hopefully eliminate tension inherent in them. Conflicts, according to Alade, (1997), can be resolved through outright conquest, compromise, withdrawal, forced submission and deterrence, award, passive settlement, plebiscite and referendum. The procedures for resolving international conflict include negotiation, mediation and good offices, enquiry and conciliation, adjudication, law and peace enforcement and arbitration. Palmer & Perkins (2005)

Crisis in the view of Kegley & Blanton, (2010), is a situation in which the threat of escalation to warfare is high and the time available for making decisions and reaching compromised solutions in negotiations is compressed. This is because when crisis erupt, the capacity for reaching coolheaded rational decisions is reduced. The threat to use force causes stress and reduces the amount of time that is available to take decisions that might successfully end the crisis peacefully.

Pearson & Rochester (1988) proffers four solutions to political crisis but notes that the pattern vary according to history and international pressure. These are, ethnic democracy where one group dominates the government, partition – where incompatible nationalities and groups are separated with each on their own land, consociation democracy where groups share power with equal status, built in safeguards and veto power and liberal democracy-ethnic group differences tend to be homogeneous and people are treated as individuals rather than as members of tribal groupings.

For any country to quell mostly internal insurrection, aggression, and combat crime as well as maintain peace and protect lives and properties of the citizens, there is need for the establishment of the security department whose personnel execute their functions not arbitrarily to the laws of the country but with severe adherence to rules and constitutional provisions of the country. This need in Nigeria led to the establishment of SARS.

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was founded in late 1992 by former police commissioner Simeon Danladi Midenda when Col. Rindam of the Nigerian Army was killed by police officers at a checkpoint in Lagos in September 1992, later leading to the arrest of three officers. When the information reached the army, soldiers were dispatched into the streets of Lagos in search of any police officer. The Nigerian police withdrew from checkpoints, security areas, and other points of interest for criminals; some police officers were said to have resigned while others fled for their lives. Due to the absence of police for two weeks, the crime rate increased and SARS was formed with only 15 officers operating in the shadows without knowledge of the army while monitoring police radio chatters. Due to the existence of three already established anti-robbery squads that were operational at that time, Midenda needed to distinguish his squad from the already existing teams. Midenda named his team Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). After months of dialogue the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force came to an understanding and official police duties began again in Lagos. The SARS unit was officially commissioned in Lagos following a ceasefire by the army after settlement and was one of the 14 units in the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, which was established to detain, investigate, and prosecute people involved in crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping, and other violent crimes.

With the way that the world has been made a global village where information about countries, their activities and that of their officials are easily accessed anywhere in the world on the internet through the mass media made people to easily criticize activities and actions of the government when they are not pleased with it. Information is now at the tip of the people’s finger which has helped the public not to be eluded with the happenings around them.

The advent of the internet in the 1990s led to major developments in the world of communication. Today the Internet has taken a firm place in people’s lives. It is difficult to imagine a young man who at least once a day did not check for updates in social networks and did not leaf through the news lines. The modern reality requires us to stay in touch and keep abreast of the recent happenings around the globe. Social Media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. There is no doubt the emergence of the internet has immensely contributed to the introduction of social networking sites (SNSS). The coming into being of these sites revolutionized the world of communication and today we celebrate its improvement ranging from education to entertainment.  Recent study have shown The evolution of the internet has led to its usage as the best of communication whereby two-third (2/3) of the internet world‘s population visit social networking sites (SNSs) thus serving as communication and connection tools. These networking sites are referred to as social media (Boyd and Ellison, 2007).

Social networking has become a common international trend which has spread its reach to almost every corner of the world. The use of Social media sites has exploded and evolved into an online platform where people create content, share it, bookmark it and network a prodigious rate.

Online technologies have continued to erase the line between the traditional media and their audience. This significant success has been facilitated by the two-way communication system which social media provides than the one-way broadcast method of the traditional media. Social media have given masses a voice which the traditional media though committed to achieve has not yet totally achieved. With the continuous improvements in information and communication technologies and increasing possibilities for ubiquitous internet connectivity, more freedom is anticipated for using social media whenever and wherever one wants.

However, information is power, the media has the capacity to intervene and prevent conflict either from the latent or escalating stage. The widely accepted roles of the media are to inform, educate and entertain. The information and educational role of the media provides it with a major opportunity to help resolve conflict, especially when the ethics of the profession are strictly adhered to. The ethics demands that media professionals should be truthful, accurate, and fair and balance in their report and broadcast.

The success of conflicts management may sometimes depend on the role the media chooses to play. This depends on a number of factors, including ownership, interests of journalists, understanding of the issue in dispute and others, the media can be bias and decide to take sides in a conflict and make it difficult to be easily resolved or managed (Otufodunrin 2013).

The media is a body of Journalism that gather information and pass across to a few or larger and heterogeneous population depending on its scope of networking frequency. Societies in both developed and developing world benefit much from the input of the media to societal activities. Globalization is mostly termed to be a process where the world passes information, has easy access to other countries and engages in political, economic, religious and technological activities. Most of these gain meaningful result through the efforts of the media. In recent times from the cold war, media has contributed immensely to the knowledge of new advancements. Some of

the processes of the media is; the print (newspaper and magazines) and electronic (radio, television internet) etc. Communication and information is widely spread through these units, thereby resulting to having a larger consuming population in both urban and rural areas.

The media is a neutral instrument that has the potential of being used for either good or bad. In conflict times, the media could be used to enhance peaceful coexistence, likewise destructive actions. The media is so powerful in any given society to the extent that it is called the forth realm in government. Conflict experiences have proved that the media serves as an agent of change in conflicts. No doubt conflicts have been fueled through the statements of presenters, leading to strain in relationships yet there is a good aspect of its utility that has contributed to peace building and conflict transformation. Conflicts have been transformed from negative dimensions to positive ones as the media play regular and significant roles to stop violence and introduce peace (Wilson, 2014).

Nigeria has never been immune from armed conflict. More specifically, Nigeria has experienced both internal and cross border conflicts. These conflicts mainly manifest themselves as political, economic, environmental as well as conflicts over natural resources, land, tribal, religious clashes and terrorism.

The media, called the fourth estate of the realm, had its role in conflicts that occurred in the previous crises in Plateau state. In the verge of violent acts by conflicting parties, communication was skeletal among citizens in the state which kept many people out of the whole picture of what was happening in other parts of the state. The work of the media and its relevance in the conflict was enormous as contributive efforts were made in the whole situation for clearance, understating, and knowledge of the current situation. The media in collaboration with the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith based organizations (FBOs), community based organizations (CBOs), were able to pass significant information to the public. Messages were passed across to the public through the radio television, announcements of curfews were conveyed to the public, and directives were made from the government to the larger society. Through media, other states in the country had information about the tensed situation in the state.

The activities that occurred during the conflict had relations with the media working to make significant efforts to manage the conflict through spreading information on areas coming out of violent conflict, and the areas safe for passage.

The neutrality and integrity of some media houses was at stake as they took sides in sending their information to the public. The ways of preventing wrong figures of deaths, areas of offensive and destruction led the public to react in anger against such publicity. This made many people to withdraw from listening to such media stations except for those who needed to carryout criticism.

The media has a composition of employers with different identity and civilizations which could lead to unfair and bias presentation. Presenters have shy away from being neutral and fair in reporting because of what the response of their identity group might be, while others are bias because of their extremism in religion, culture, political affiliation, and class in the society. Confirmed information end up being refined with wrong messages and passed across. These factors work against the expected roles of the media leading to its integrity and ethics being questioned by the general public.

The use of institutions and organizations, including clubs to ventilate information through the media plays different roles in either supporting peace or supporting a bias position, thereby encouraging crisis in the state. Radio stations have the whole day to be on air and these stations have variety of programmes which are temporary paused due to the conflict situation in the state. Stations such as Plateau Radio Television Corporation (PRTVC), Africa Independent Television (AIT) Silverbird Television (STV) and the advent of television digitization (free TV decoder). In Jos television stations i.e. Channels Television, Television Continental (TVC), and Galaxy TV etc. have contributed their various quotas for the public to embrace peace and shun violence. The Television stations of these media houses made information accessible to the public to see the destructive nature of violent conflicts. They transmitted the reactions of the civil society and the government officials towards the crisis that occurred. This presented a sense of concern, oneness, and support to the unpleasant situation in the state. The media links the world, a global village, a small community where communication is easily passed across within a short period of time. With the existence of the media, the society is kept in the light but its nonexistence keeps the society in total blackout.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

War and conflict all have one thing in common violence. Violence destroys everything including people, infrastructure and other material resources to institutions, including education, political will, hope, and trust. The cost of conflict is immense causing suffering and poverty, destroying economic development and depriving people of their basic needs (Chretien, Spurk, & Christopher, 1995). As it has been witnessed, most conflicts often take place in countries undergoing major political changes towards democratization. In such countries, the rights to credible information and freedom of expression are essential in ensuring accountable and transparent governance, constructive communication, decreased perceptions of threat and creating more stable and sustainable political structures (Rugumanu, 2002).

In conflict times during the October 2020 endsars mass protest in Rivers state, the media has been involved along the line in ventilating information to the consuming public which has aid in escalating the conflict into taking position in different sides. Different media outfits have presented their views in biased form probably without considering the way it affects the relationship and stability of the public. In regard to the profession, efforts are made to ensure that the population knows the situation of the state but it is not enough to prove that such is true when considering the political influence and statements to douse tension from the people. Electronic and print media have played their role which is not considered to be up to standard (does not comply with the ethics of broadcasting) as expected. Staff in the media find it quite difficult to be neutral in their submissions and findings when it comes to the print media which result to individuals buying favorite papers which they believe will give them the right information. Most people believe in the electronic media, especially the television where every happening is showed evidently without reduction or addition to the situation and report. With this, the role of the media as a tool to manage conflict becomes a challenge in the society. The plural composition of the reporters and society at large go a long way to influence the writings and submissions of journalists and other media outfits.

Despite the significant roles that media can play in conflict and conflict resolution in October 2020 endsars mass protest in Rivers state, this subject has not been extensively studied by both scholars and practitioners. Nigerian media is highly robust, competitive and free compared to most African countries. This, according to libertarian theory of media reporting can hardly be exploited for selfish gain by state and individuals who strive to protect their images in the society and remain politically impartial at all times.

Therefore, media in such an environment should encourage a competitive political system that should promote democracy, peace and stability. In addition, a number of studies have been made on general causes of Endsar conflicts in River State and other parts of the country. However, these studies have hardly investigated the indirect and the invincible roles of the media in conflict. Although attempts have been made to find supportive evidence to link media to conflict, little has been done with relation to Nigeria and particularly in River State, the area of study. Besides, the studies on how mass media influences human variables such as gender, age, social status, residence and religion have hardly been done. Therefore, the study analyzed how mass media affect these human variables which in turn determine human reaction to conflict situations with reference to the October 2020 Endsars mass protest in Rivers state.

1.3 Research Questions

The following research questions were developed from specific objectives outlined above:

  1. How has the media contributed or dampen violent conflict during the October 2020 Endsars mass protest in Rivers state ?
  2. What are the challenges the media faces in the dissemination of information during during the October 2020 Endsars mass protest in Rivers state?
  3. What has been the pattern of news reporting during the during the October 2020 Endsars mass protest in Rivers state?
  4. What role can the media play in conflict transformation in River state?
  5. What is the degree of media accessibility and the media coverage during the October 2020 Endsars mass protest in Rivers state ?

The questions designed above gives the room for the study to come at a probable conclusion on the role the media plays in managing violent conflict situation.

1.4 Aim And Objectives Of The Study

This study is primarily aimed at evaluating the Media and conflict resolution in Nigeria. A case a study of the Oct 2020 endsars mass protest in Rivers state. The specific objectives are:

  1. To identify how the media has contributed or dampen violent conflict in Jos.
  2. To identify the challenges, the media has faced in dissemination of information during violent conflict.

iii. To identify the pattern of news reporting during the endsars mass protest in Rivers state.

  1. To identify the roles, the media plays in managing conflict during endsars mass protest in Rivers state.
  2. To establish the media accessibility and the various types of media coverage of the Endsars mass protest in Rivers state.

1.5 Significance Of The Study

The relevance of the study is obvious since human dealings at all levels could include conflict experiences. The significance of the study is to appreciate the role of the media as a neutral entity in the society and its relevance to conflict management. The study brings out the types of media and the divergent roles played for societal information and strive towards development.

The study also adds to the body of knowledge relating to media operations and conflict management as well as promoting aspects of peace journalism in times of conflict. It also provides information that would enable security policy makers, law enforcement and political leadership to make better decisions about how to prevent conflicts through early warning and sensitizing the media on how their actions can result in conflict. As a tool for enhancing peace, the study may encourage media practitioners to embrace set policies and ethical standards which regulate the conduct of the media fraternity.

1.6 Scope And Limitation Of The Study

The study is structured to cover the roles/activities of the media during the October 2020 endsars mass protest in Rivers state and this is focused on the conflict occurrences that have taken place (2020 crisis in particular). The study looks into the level of engagements of the media and the significant role when it comes to broadcasting information to the consuming public and how well this function has gone in curtailing conflicts and encouraging development. This study helps to weigh the performances of the media on the basis of conflict resolution in Post-conflict cases.

The study experienced some limitations in the area of gathering deep information from identified stakeholders. The researcher made the use of secondary data such as books, newspapers, magazines, journals, and the internet to enhance the ease in having information that requires efficiency in the whole research process.

1.7 Definition Of Terms

These following terms have been defined for the purpose of this study.

  1. Media: Communication channels through which news, entertainment, education, data, or promotional messages are disseminated. Media includes very broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet. Media is the plural of medium and can take a plural or singular verb, depending on the sense intended.
  2. Conflict: Refers to some form of friction, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. It is also a clash or disagreement, often violent, between two opposing groups or individuals.

iii. Management:Is to forecast, to plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control. Management is the art of getting things done through and with people.

  1. Role: A function or part performed especially in a particular operation or process. Is a set of connected behaviors, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualized by people in a social situation.

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