Nigeria is regarded as the world sixth richest oil producer. It is a nation with over 250 different tribes and ethnic groups rich in cultural values. Inspite of this qualities, high rate of environmental degradation, pollutions, land disputes, poor infrastructures and fighting as a result of agitation for means of livelihood and the desire to control these resources by different cultural groups result in crises, not to mention the devastating effect caused by natural disaster and environmental factors which has resulted in high rate of poverty. This problems has overtime, resulted in misunderstanding which has lead to several communal clashes and the destruction of lives and properties; with the youth being used as instruments for the perpetration of this evil. One peculiar region where this is most pronounced is the South-South region commonly referred to as the Niger Delta where lack of communication among communities has adversely affected the growth and development of the region, even though it is regarded as the resource base of the nation.
As communities fight to uphold the benefits of these resources located in their surroundings, it eventually becomes a way of life that is morally not acceptable. Some of the major areas where such is predominant are: Rivers State in communities such as Ogoni, Ahoada, Emohua and Andoni; Delta State among ethnic groups like the Ijaws, Itsekiris, Urhobos and the Isokos; and Akwa Ibom State with groups like the Anang, Ibibios and the Efiks to mention but a few.
One important measure that has most often been neglected in addressing these challenges is the use of effective communication and its tools which happens to be the purpose of this project. Not neglecting the fact that proper use of communication tools such as participatory digital mapping in addressing communal indifferences will travel along way to resolve lingering problems that hinders national development…..
The incessant communal clashes and its aftermath to growth and development cannot be totally eradicated if communication as a process of dialogical relations between two or more persons, group and communities exist in void. The need therefore to reduce to barest minimum problems of communal crises, deterioration of social and traditional values and other threats to peace building in these communities becomes relevant, most especially, with the help of digital communication tools like the cinema, televisions, newspapers and the direct and indirect contacts that help to promote the sensitization programs. Meanwhile, for purpose of this work, the use of phones with electronic features likes MMS, SMS, a radio, video and recording facilities. Also, applying radio programme to facilitate conversation between the studio audience and the general public, with a moderator and a resource person(s) will help to create a better understanding of media effect in alleviating these menaces.
Description of the action and its effectiveness
The primary objective of this project is to establish an effective communication channel that is all-involving towards eradicating tendencies for crises and conflict between intra and inter communities with constant feedback to enhance concrete peace-building.
Three community representatives namely stakeholders, youth leaders, Community Public relations Representatives and women and children who are the most vulnerable during crises will be carefully selected from the areas where conflict is most predominant. Our interest therefore will be based on the following regions that are known for incessant occurrence of crises spurred by some of the factors mentioned in our background; Ogoni, Emohua and Ahoada in Rivers State, ijaw, itsekiri and Isoko communities in Delta State and Eket, …………., and ……….. in Akwa Ibom State respectively. They shall be trained on effective ways for using basic communication tools to control likely tendencies for crises through an early warning process.
The target groups for this project are community leaders from six selected communities in the Niger Delta region, which will include Ogoni, Emohua and Ahoada in Rivers State, Jesse, Isoko and Urhobo communities in Delta State and Eket, …………., and ……….. in Akwa Ibom State respectively. The reason for this selection is for the purpose of effective engagement. These groups will be divided on the basis of gender especially the youth group who are instruments for perpetrating violence and conflict in the community. Others will include stakeholders like traditional leaders and socio-cultural group representatives who will make up part of the audience in this designed drive towards an effective participatory model of communication.
Relevance to target groups
The whole essence of using some of the basic communication tools like the radio, audiovisual materials and phone system is for effective peace building and to properly engage the people for a change. It is intended to reorient their ways and help to curtail violence within and outside their communities. Three major tools that will be use in promoting peace drive will include the use of phones compactable with Multimedia Services, Short Message Services and Video and audio recording; the use of local media such as interactive radio programmes that will help to involve the people of the communities in discussions and finally, the training of potential Community Public Relation Officers who will act as agents for the dissemination of useful information as well as mediate between the people of the communities and other social organizations like media houses, civil organizations, law enforcement agents and the government will go along way in handling crises, especially through the use of early warming mechanisms.
Expected outcome of the project
When People understand the impact of using communication to address communal problems for social unity, it becomes one of the most appreciated means for rapid development. Hence, by training stakeholders as potential Community Public Relation Officers, communication strategies relevant towards modest behavioural skills that are within reach of all normal individuals in the community would have been developed and the need to acquire a moderate cognitive understanding of an effective communication process with situational constraints that may arise as a barriers to positive behavioural patterns will help the representatives of each communities to have a sound understanding for this purpose, not to mention the use of restricted code which does not defile cultural values and the language commonly used within the communities especially at meeting places when passing on vital messages during casual gathering will become achievable. Other major achievements from members of the various communities will include
- An effective Community orientation on use of communication tools like phone calls, text messages and liaising with Community Public Relations Representatives will help in the management and prevention of conflict.
- The use of signs such as audio and visual that relate to our senses and operate a shared cultural meaning with that of the various communities involved would help to redefine the likely causes of conflict.
- A point of convergence between the local media houses, civil organizations and the various communities involved in this mapping process to helps promote mutual understanding and effective information sharing would have been achieved.
- The use of video and recording facilities that are embedded in telecommunication equipment such as the phones, iPods and other gadgets to communicate without border will be developed and encouraged. Also, applying an effective use of audio-visual and artistically accepted forms of communications that can penetrate the peoples understanding beyond the pictures and words to the essential visual display would have been established.
With the above established concepts towards an effective flow of information for effective peace-building, the means for participating in communication process towards reducing incessant crises that may arise in societies especially on communal basis would have been downsized and national development encouraged as community members, local actors, peace-builder and media houses would have establishes a point of convergence in addressing likely tendencies of conflict both on intra and inter basis.
- To help develop an emotional response to reality as it affects the use of media technology equipment such as phones with more enhanced features that could help promote prompt response where the need arises.
- The use of common technological tools like the phone with internet facilities which is within the reach of our trained audience in various communities to promotes a circular flow of information both for internal and external consumptions.
- To establish a periodic forum where issues affecting community lives can be addressed, while using the local media to create effective dissemination of information.
- Adopting Media communication in form of social networks in sensitizing the members of the community to speak out, especially on issues relating to conflict prevention and management.
- To promote a feedback mechanism from the audience in the community
- To train individuals as Community Public Relation Representatives who will help in the role of Local actors with the ability to apply semiotics (an understanding of signs and language) for effective communication. By this, the ideology of establishing a mediator or a mouthpiece for the community would have been actualized.