From Msughshima Andrew, Makursi

An international Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, Search for Common Ground, (Search) has inducted 21 journalists as their Media Fellows for the period of one year.

The journalists were selected from Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau states and would partner with search from August 2019 to July 2020 and through their media reports correct the wrong narratives around the herder-farmer conflicts in the Middle Belt.

Country Director of the organization, Sher Nawaz, performed the induction at a 2-day training workshop for the selected Media Fellows under the project: “Transforming the Farmer/Herder Conflicts and Promoting Freedom of Religions and Beleifs in Nigeria’s Middle Belt” at AKwanga, Nasarawa state.

The Country Director, who was represented by the Organization’s Senior Programme Manager, Olutoyin Falade, said the selected Fellows are expected to produce contents that help demystify the farmer/herder conflicts, breakdown stereotypes and biases.

She said the expected contents should also be able to promote positive narratives around farmer/herder collaborations and de-escalate tensions that could fuel violence.

She pointed out that the engagement of Media Fellows by the organization was the first of its kind in Nigeria, explaining that the workshop was to establish networking/netwkork amongst the fellowship, build capacities of journalists and raise their production on issues around the conflicts among others.

She expressed worries that the Middle Belt which is Nigeria’s food basket was going through turmoil of such magnitude stating that if nothing is done, urgently to nip it in the bud, the nation might experience food insecurity.

While urging the Fellows to make maximum use of the opportunity and contribute their quota towards a peaceful society in the Middle Belt, She also charged them to be proactive in dispelling rumors as “stretch your neck to what is happening in your neighboring states that could affect your state.”

The Country Director further stated that Search will provide mentorship and coaching as in the best practices for engaging on the herder-farmer issues and urged member to be committed in discharging their responsibility.

Nawaz further explained that the mission of the organization is to transform how individuals, organizations and governments deal with conflict, away from adversarial approaches and towards cooperative solutions.

The Next Edition reports that Search seeks to help conflicting parties understand their differences and act on their commonalities. Search implements projects from 50 offices in 43 countries, including in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.

Speaking at the workshop, the resource persons, Mr. Austine Onuoha explained that the event was meant to intimate Fellows of the workings of the NGO and also brief them of the essentials task and must-meet requirements during the period of Fellowship.

He urges the journalists to show commitment and produce articles, programmes and other materials that respond to the objectives of the fellowship

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