Influence Of Social Media In Addressing Farmers-Herdsmen’s Conflict In Nigeria
The study investigated the influence of social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Nigeria by using Enugu state as a case study. Survey research design was employed to carry out the study. A total of two hundred and twenty questionnaires was distributed to respondents, out which two hundred and eight were retrieved and total of two hundred and one questionnaires were correctly filled. At the end, a total of two hundred questionnaires were subjected to final analysis. The study has the following as its research objectives: to determine the prevalence of social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state, to examine the effects of farmers-herdsmen’s conflict on the people of Enugu state, to investigate the measures taken by the government in addressing the farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state and to identify the reasons for farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state.
1.1 Background to the Study
More and more, development strategies are based on the need for developing countries to embrace information technology both as a way to avoid further economic and social marginalization as well as to offer opportunities for both growth and diversification of their economies. The uneven distribution of these technologies within societies as well as across the world has been termed “the digital divide”. It reflects a division between the information “haves” and “have nots” on many lines that often overlap within countries by race, ethnic group, class, age, religion, and gender, between countries; and globally, between those who have access to abundant information resources and those who do not have this access.
Today, we are living in the information age. Postindustrial age is called information age. The age where information is a human product, where information is the result of human thinking. Prime Minister’s (M.G.KMenon) National Task Force for Information Technology and Software Development (NTFIT) desires that computer education and internet use should be promoted at an early stage of education. Thus, computers are a manifestation of the scientific and technological revolution; their actual creation, utilization, and further development caused new theoretical and applied problems in our society.
The rise of the social media has given scope to the non-traditional media outlets which has seen interest groups frame stories surrounding the conflict in ways that tend to undermine the cooperate existence of Nigeria, Abdulrahman Dambazau (2016). Social Conflict is of major news value to media and, as such, remains foremost fodder for media Media participation in nature, intensity and consequences of conflicts thus becomes indisputably significant (Pate & Dauda, 2011) and inevitable in precipitating, ameliorating, and discouraging conflict. Social media either play negative roles in fuelling and provoking conflicts or can play constructive roles in preventing and resolving conflicts and contributing to peace building. Several studies validate media’s contribution to violence, instability, and fragmentation of Yugoslavia (Thompson, 1999). Many blame the media for inciting the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In Nigeria, media are known to sensationalize crises situations, promote prejudicial stereotypes about groups and individuals, and even instigate and sustain violent conflicts (Pate, 2011).
In Nigeria today, farmer-herder conflict is an enduring feature of social life in almost all the six geo-political zones in the country. The phrase farmer-herder conflict is typically used to refer to conflict between herding and farming groups. Using this word can be misleading since it can suggest that herders and farmers are separate groups when in fact most herders are nowadays farmers and many farmers may herd their livestock at least on seasonal basis. Moreover, the conflict between a herder and farmer often implicate other farmers and herders on both sides of the conflict. For example, Breusers et al. (1998) argued that many conflicts between farmers and herders actually result from tensions within farming communities tensions that are most evident with conflicts with outsiders, particularly herders.
Centuries back, many of the low-lying areas next to rivers in Nigeria were hardly used by farmers because of some wide-range of reasons. One of such was the exposure to diseases like river blindness and malaria. Another is the problem of erosion peculiar to these riverine areas. These areas instead were mainly used for grazing by nomadic herders and fishermen. However, the increase in Nigeria’s population led to a need for much greater use of these lands, especially for food production. During Nigeria’s colonial era, large irrigation schemes to ensure freshly planted food crops became popular. Familiar problems relating to land and water use, obstruction of traditional migration routes, livestock theft and crop damage tend to trigger these disputes. But their roots run deeper. Drought and desertification have degraded pastures, dried up many natural water sources across Nigeria’s far-northern Sahelian belt and forced large numbers of herders to migrate to various parts of the country in search of grassland and water for their herds. Insecurity in many northern states (a consequence of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east and of less-well-reported rural banditry and cattle rustling in the north-west and north-central zones) also brings increasing numbers of herdsmen to move to other parts of the country. The growth of human settlements, expansion of public infrastructure and acquisition of land by large-scale farmers and other private commercial interests, have deprived herders of grazing reserves designated by the post-independence government of the former Northern region.
Herders migrating into the savannah and rain forests of the central and southern states are moving into regions where high population growth over the last four decades has heightened pressure on farmland, increasing the frequency of disputes over crop damage, water pollution and cattle theft. In the absence of mutually accepted mediation mechanisms, these disagreements increasingly turn violent, thereby, leading to loss of lives and farmlands as the case may be. The menace of these herdsmen on the farmers has been a major issue not only in Enugu state but also in various states (Taraba, Benue, Ogun, Kwara, Ekiti and so on) of the country. This has been trending on various social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. as a way of creating more awareness and also exposing their evil deeds.
Conclusively, social media alone is not enough to expose the challenges faced by farmers from herdsmen in Enugu state and other states that are being affected by the menace of these herdsmen in the country. The government and other concerned stakeholders must act fast to combat this problem of herdsmen killing and destroying of fertile lands in the states and make sure there is adequate security of life of the farmers throughout the whole federation. It is on this note that this study aims to investigate the influence of social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Nigeria by using Enugu state as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There has been significant interest and concern about the evil acts of the herdsmen for some months in the country because of their access to sophisticated weapons which they use to commit all manners of crimes in the country and the awareness of this has been trending on various social media. A number of cases of killings, raping and farmlands destruction have been reported on different social networking sites at different times. The cause of this current bout of clashes remains an issue of debate among Nigeria watchers. Some have premonition that violence is a continuation of ethno-religious struggles that proceeded the colonial era. However, the relative absence of such widespread bloodshed throughout much of Nigeria’s post-independence history suggests more contemporary factors are to be blamed. Obviously, it appears that the sudden increase in farmer-herder conflict emanates from the confluence of four developments: the ongoing expansion of land under cultivation, environmental degradation across Africa’s Sahel region, the decline of traditional authority figures, and the recent rise of large-scale cattle rustling. It is possible that these social networking tools are just the beginning of something that could lead us to ways of exposing the evil acts of these herdsmen we never imagined, but whatever happens, you cannot dismiss these tools easily. They are taking us somewhere exciting, but we need to work out our dealing with the fading boundaries that these tools have left in their wake and that means recreating our social rules along the way.
1.3 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
- What is the prevalence of social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state?
- What are the effects of farmers-herdsmen’s conflict on the people of Enugu state?
- What the measures taken by the government in addressing the farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state?
- What are the reasons for farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the influence of social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Nigeria by using Enugu state as a case study. However, the specific objectives of the study are: to;
- Determine the prevalence of social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state
- Examine the effects of farmers-herdsmen’s conflict on the people of Enugu state
- Investigate the measures taken by the government in addressing the farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state
- Identify the reasons for farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Enugu state
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho1: There is no significant influence of the social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen crises in Enugu state
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study sought to investigate the influence of social media in addressing farmers-herdsmen’s conflict in Nigeria by using Enugu state as a case study. It will show how social media help in fighting against lost of lives and farmlands among farmers as well as loss of property (herd) by the herdsmen. This work will also sought out to provide solutions to the problems associated with farmland, loss of herd and community unrest in Nigeria.
This study can be of immense relevance at this point in time when users of social networking sites are been enlightened to know the effects associated with false report and spreading of unverified news on various social media platforms. From this study, users of social networking sites will gain more insight into different factors associated with the use of social media.
The study will help students, farmers, government and other users of social media to understand risks that are associated with spreading false reports on social media. This study will also contribute to academic literature in the field of agriculture. This study can also serve as a foundation for further research to be conducted in Nigeria.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study will cover farmers from the three senatorial districts in Enugu state. A total of two hundred questionnaires will be distributed to the respondents. While ‘social media’ is independent variables, “farmers-herdsmen’s conflict” is the dependent variable.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
The study will be faced with a lot of challenges and one it the problem of finance. There is not going to be enough funds to print questionnaires and to also transport the researcher to meet the desired respondents. Another one is time; the researcher is currently busy with the demand of his academics. A lot of assignments are available for the researcher to do and coupled with his desire to read and learn at the same time. These are the major challenges of this study.
1.9 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Clash between farmers and herdsmen as result of their disagreement over issue(s).
Persons that are concerned with the production of food for man’s consumption.
Cattle that are being reared. They usually move from one place to another in search for food.
Those that tend cattle and also responsible for providing food for them by moving them from one place to another.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The study also concludes that social media greatly played conflict escalation roles during the 2007 farmer herdsmen conflict and subsequent conflict. Some of the roles included; encouraging hate speeches to greater extent; running parallel tallying centers to a large extent; withholding of vital information about conflict to a small extent; misrepresentation of information to a great extent; incitement to a large extent; partisan or taking political sides to a very great extent; and corruption to a small extent. Some positive roles played by social media were conducting civic education to a great extent; preaching peace and calling for unity to a very great extent; public awareness and fair coverage of political campaigns to a great extent; and airing of contentious issues during negotiations to a very great extent.
The study concludes that social media significantly influenced people based on age factor; highly influence people based on gender factor; high influence on people based on religious factor; moderately influence people based on status factor and low influence on people based on residence factor.
The study findings confirmed that social media significantly influenced people‟s perceptions and actions towards the conflict. Therefore, based on this fact, the researcher concludes that social media generally influence people‟s perceptions and actions towards violent conflict.
The study made the following recommendations:
Based on the findings that there exists a significant variation amongst news reported by various social media houses, the study recommends that social media houses should adopt a common conflict reporting approach. This will help in mitigating the discrepancies in coverage to unearth areas of dispute and consensus objectively with a view of encouraging amicable solution to the matters at hand.
Since social media played both conflict escalation and conflict de-escalation roles during the 2007 farmer herdsmen conflict and subsequent conflict as per the findings of the study, the study recommends that social media regulatory and law enforcers should design stern laws, rules and penalties for both social media houses and personalities who use social media for negative purposes.
The study recommends that social media should not be allowed to run parallel tallying centres alongside that of the official body. However, they should be encouraged to report on the accuracy of the body results and to objectively highlight on any discrepancies noted on these results.
The study also recommends that social media reports should not be constructed to target particular listeners. As deduced from the findings that people respond to conflict issues differently based on age, gender, social status, religion and residence, conflict reports should cut across all listeners and impact all equally.
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