The ‘Search for Common Ground’, a German Cooperation’s non-governmental organisation (NGO), has trained 170 journalists on conflict reporting to promote peace and development in the Niger Delta Region.
The NGO’s Project Manager, Nigeria’s Niger Delta Region Office, Mr Cletus Ilugo, revealed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the end of a two-Day workshop organised for journalists on Saturday in Asaba.
Ilugo said that the project tagged “Deepening Peace in the Niger Delta” was domiciled in the Niger Delta to promote peace and development of the area.
He said that the programme focuses on Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states, with journalists in Bayelsa and Rivers already trained.
The project manager remarked that the media has a major role to play in ensuring that peace reigns in the Niger Delta through its reach and well-articulated content.
He said that the ‘Search for common ground’ uses three tools – the media, community and dialogue – to entrench peace.
“The media is very crucial in peacebuilding because of its reach.
“If the media reach and content churn out to the people is right, peace will be entrenched,’’ Ilugo said.
He appealed to the media is to ensure that they carry out peace messaging on daily bases, just the way we carry out Coronavirus (COVID-19) messages.
According to him, in the first training edition, the NGO trained 95 journalists, adding, “we are training 75 now across the region.
“We are planning to train more journalists on conflict reporting to ensure that peace messaging become pivotal in the region.
“This is because we know that without peace, no government and no business will survive’’.
The Delta Project Coordinator, Mr Usen Asanga, remarked that journalists were central in achieving its organisational goal of attaining peaceful coexistence in the region.
“We are having this workshop for journalists because we understand the role that journalists play in educating and sensitising the public about government programmes.
“We also understand that the way and manner some of the journalists present information, may lead or escalate violence.
“This is why we bring up this training for brainstorming on ethics and the need to be sensitive and neutral in reporting conflicts,’’ Asanga said.
He said that so far, from the responses organisers received from the participants, they believed that reportage, particularly about conflict issues, would henceforth be presented in a way that ensures peace and not to incite violence.
“The objective of the project is to support an inclusive, multi-level dialogue process to peacefully address governance and resource issues driving conflict in the Niger Delta,’’ the project coordinator said.
The resource person, Mr Emmanuel Ohiomokhare, a media consultant, said that the training enables journalists to understand conflict-sensitive journalism.
“I think that a journalist should be able to understand that in covering conflicts, the interest should be to see how such conflict is being resolved.
“Journalist should look at the conflict holistically, knowing the source, the actors and come out with stories that will help resolve and promote the peaceful resolution of such conflict,’’ Ohiomokhare said.
A participant, Mr Laju Awala, said the training has exposed him to the implication of reporting issues based on self-judgment but to remain neutral and promote the course of peace at all time.
“I have learnt to be very careful on the issues that are conflict-sensitive,
“I also learnt that there are ways I can report such issues, even when I think I am being professional,’’ he said.
He advised that fellow journalists should understand that people occupy a very important position on peacebuilding and social cohesion, and as such, they must ensure that peace is sustained. (NAN)