A Non-Governmental Organization, Search For Common Ground, Search, has commenced a three-day Conflict sensitivity training for over 30 journalists in Benue state.
The trainers, among other appeals, urged journalists to ensure that their media content proffer solutions to various conflict situations in the State and Nigeria at large.
The training tagged “Conflict Sensitivity Training for Journalists” is part of the NGO’s 24 months project, titled “Transforming the Herder-Farmer Conflicts and Promoting Freedom of Religions and Belief in Nigeria’s Middle Belt” implemented by Search and funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands.
Speaking during the training in Makurdi, a Consultant for Search, Mr. Austin Onuoha noted that journalists played critical roles in shaping public understanding and narratives around key issues, especially those on human rights and conflict sensitivity with regards to herder-farmer conflicts.
“Journalists perform very important roles in the society and as such these roles should be meeting the needs of individuals and societies.”
Onuoha who challenged the media to do their work objectively said: “Peace is needed in Nigeria and especially Benue state and the media can help bring about conflict resolution with the right news content.”
He also harped on the need for government at all levels to design an effective mechanism to settle grievances among the people adding that security agencies must also be trained to effectively handle the farmer-herder conflicts.
Speaking on Search key principles for resolving conflicts, Senior Project Manager, Olutoyin Falade, said all parties collaborate to ensure that relationships with conflicts are transformed for the sake of peace.
She admonished journalists to shelve personal biases and uphold objectivity in reporting conflict situations across the state.
According to her, the objective of the on-going training is to ensure that journalists, through their media content, enhance public understanding of farmer-herder conflicts, promote conflict sensitive content and counter hate-speech, stereotypes, biases and negative narratives that fuel violence.
Also speaking, Commissioner for Information in the state, Joseph shimaor, thanked Search for their concerns and efforts to build on government’s peace efforts.
He noted that information was key to every aspect of human life and hence journalists must be careful not to mislead their consumers.
The Commissioner pledged that the State government would continue to partner with Search and any other organization in conflict management and resolution to find lasting solution in Benue state.