Press coverage of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis 2015-2020


Press coverage of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis( study of two newspapers daily sun and vanguard)

Background to the Study

Nigeria, like many other countries of the world, is replete with pockets of crises and attacks in its territory. Ever since the marriage between the Northern and Southern Protectorate in 1914 which led to the birth of the entity known as Nigeria, the country has continued to bleed as a result of inter ethnic, religious, political and financial crisis. Some of the crises were the Nigerian Civil War of 1967, Kaduna Riot in year 2000, 2002 Miss World Riots, etc.
Other crises that have torn the nation apart include: the election crisis which greeted the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election by the then Military Head of State, Gen.Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
Another crisis is the killings by the Jama’atul Ahl-Sunnati Lil Dawa’ati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, which frown against western education and whose activities since 2009 have led to the death of more than thirty thousand people mostly in the North Eastern States, sacking of communities, loss of lives and properties, total anarchy and fear and kidnapping, bombing of worship centres, schools and markets and public buildings, etc.
The latest crisis is the Fulani herdsmen and host communities crisis otherwise known as farmer/ herder clash which has led to the average of two thousand deaths since 1998 and more than 904 deaths in the first four months (January 1- April 30, 2018), (The Eagle online, 2018).The problem emanates from accusation and counter accusation by herders over cattle rustling, hostility and murder of their kinsmen and their cows by the farmers and the accusation by farmers of unauthorized trespass and destruction of farmland by the herders and their cows, etc. The group is now ranked fourth most dreaded militant group globally according to a report by Global Terrorism Index (2014)
Report indicates that herdsmen killed 168 people in January of 2018 alone and about 904 people in the first four months (The Eagle online, 2018). However, since the advent of Fulani herdsmen attacks in Nigeria, newspapers has been flooded with screaming headlines; most of which have been said to be inciting, others abetting while some others could be said to be moderate.
The upsurge between herdsmen and famers in various parts of the country is a good example of conflict in the society. Conflict between herdsmen and farmers in some sensitive parts of the country has raised different issues. Conflict between farmers and nomadic cattle herders have also been a common feature of economic livelihood in West Africa, (Tori, 2000). This is becoming a serious crisis. It is now second to Boko Haram security issue in Nigeria.
Conflict and insecurity are major crisis that has existed in the country for couple of years. Insecurity is the feeling and state of uncertainty or anxiety about oneself because of lack of confidence; being open to danger or a threat and there is lack of protection. The causes of insecurity are also as numerous as the number of environmental and economic activities are factors that encourage crisis.
Historically, the Nigeria perspective of herdsmen and farmers crisis takes root from the global scope in Africa. According to Ofuoku (2010), in the period before the beginning of 20th century, such problems were mainly restricted to the savanna belts of West Africa. Cattle rearing where mainly prevalent in these belts: Guinea, Sudan and Sahel Savanna where crop production was carried out according to short raining season and small scale.
Ahmed-Gamgum (2018) aver that the current and most serious version of insecurity challenge facing Nigeria today is the instigation of farmers-herdsmen violent. The major effect of the conflicts are food and livestock shortages , food price increase, lost in revenue, and income, thousands of lives and household properties, cattle routes, demarcated grazing reserves farm land and towns infrastructures are frequently destroyed and or denied access.
Ofuoku, (2010) observed that cattle herders got the opportunity of having available farm land or grazing land to themselves. As  time went on, and with the introduction of irrigation practice in the Savanna belt of Nigeria, and during dry season when pasture wither and unavailable to cattle herders, the herds men move down site (coastal zone) were raining is longer and soil retain moisture for long, in search of pasture and water – a movement called transhumance,
However, Shehu (2017) pointed that Fulani as a tribe is known with the business of cattle rearing. Notwithstanding this fact, a number of Nigerians and even foreigners are also found in cattle rearing. Those vulnerable to herdsmen attacks seem to condemn the entire tribe of Fulani incognizant of the innocence of the majority. Fulani herdsmen have been labeled by some Nigeria’s newspapers with various frames as a result of their clash with their farmers counterparts in Nigeria. According to Shehu (2017), average Fulani-herdsman, cattle rearing are a way of living, which is reckoned with as a mark of common heritage. In effect, any threat to his herd amounts to a threat, not only to his survival but also to his common destiny. This way of thinking is encapsulated in the following citation as credited to a Fulani-nomad.
The media especially the newspaper is always keen to report and investigate crisis event in any society. The newspaper is always at the center to connect man with the environment. As important as the media to events, the media shine when there is tension, crisis and war. Issues of war come from the human angle of news value. According to Adamu (2016), the media as an institution requires an understanding of what constitutes the sector. Clearly, the mass media consist of something beyond the specific outlets that deliver news and information moving forward.
The print media over the years have been integral part of democracy in the world and in Nigeria. According to Orhewere (2003), there are many genre of print medium which include newspaper, magazine, journal, and books. Newspaper is the most common genre of the print medium people read often which reflect all important news and provides information comments and guidelines that is most useful to its readers. It fully explains the meaning of local, national and international events which are significance to its own community by providing wise counsel in its editorial and become a public conscience. According to Nwosu (2003), a newspaper is a wholesome package of news, events, people and place in a given area and published on a predetermined frequency. This shows the level of importance of newspaper to the society.
The interpretation of the above is that newspaper is a vehicle for societal development. This is done through the reflection of societal happenings and making the position of the People to known relevant authorities vise visa. According to Nwosu (2003), the contents of a newspaper must strike a balance between all interests be it political, social, and academic, sports, ethics etc. This means that newspaper contents must touch on vital issues that affect man in the national orbit.
Newspaper has been frequently used in political setting than any other sector. This assertion is equally true based on the historical development of Nigeria democracy and mass media (Sambe, 2008). Though, that era was marked by a lot of civil unrest in the country.
This study therefore, sought to analyze two selected newspapers in other to unravel the frequency, prominence, direction and depth of coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks of host communities.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

The media cover events and the importance attached to such events is determined by its placements on newspapers and broadcast bulletins. Are Nigeria media given adequate coverage to herdsmen attacks on host communities? Are the stories covered in the media prominently displayed or are they tucked inside the pages of the newspapers? How frequent does news of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities appear in Nigeria newspapers? Is the direction of news reportage favourable, unfavourable or neutral?
This study sets out to unravel the coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities in Nigeria as reported in the selected dailies in other to discover their pattern of coverage.

1.3 Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to analyze Press coverage of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis( study of two newspapers daily sun and vanguard)
. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Find out the frequency of newspaper coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities.
  2. Find out the prominence accorded the reportage of Fulani herdsmen
  3. Ascertain the direction of newspaper coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities.
  4. Identify the depth of newspaper coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities.

1.4 Research Questions


  1. What is the level of frequency of newspaper coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities?
  2. What is the prominence of stories of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities?


  1. What is the direction of newspaper coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities?
  2. What is the depth of newspaper coverage of Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities in the newspaper?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The issue of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in Nigeria is becoming a great concern to everybody including government institutions, civic society and the media. Hence, the result of these findings shall benefit the followings

  • The newspaper organizations
  • Government at all levels
  • Civil Society

The newspaper organization shall benefit from the study because the result will better position the newspapers to know areas they have perform below belt and seek for new ways to improve their coverage by maintaining media professionalism.
The government on their part will use the findings to seek for possible way to quench this crisis as well as apportion social and legal rights and privileges to the parts involved in the crisis.
The civic society shall benefit from this study because the result will make them understand the federal character and unity in diversity.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study is on Press coverage of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis. The scope of the study shall be limited to two notable newspapers in Nigerian. These are daily sun and vanguard newspapers.Thus, the period for this study is one year. The scope shall further focus on the prominence, nature, pattern and direction of the coverage of newspaper on Fulani/Farmer crisis in Nigeria.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Newspaper: This is a genre of the mass media that report events, people, and place in form of paper to the readers. It appears daily and circulates to all parts of the country.
Coverage: This is the type of report of newspaper report. It is also called beat or report for a particular issue.
Conflict: This is disagreement between two or more parties over an issue field. It is could be misunderstanding of ideology.
Dimension: This is the angle or nature newspaper reports crisis that relate to Fulani herds men and local farmers in Nigeria.
Prominence: This is the amount of importance given to a particular new story on the page of the newspaper. 
Nature of type of report: This is the temperament at which cover societal issues. It is also the style of coverage.
Type of report: This is the model at which newspaper report on a particular issue. It is also the mold of coverage.
Direction of Coverage: This is the course newspaper house report event on the pages of the newspaper for the people to take for resolution.


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