Conflict resolution in Nigeria’s cultural setting is of the most unique coloration. There are rules of engagement, and desire for peace and tranquility.
Parties to disputes may call witnesses who must be willing under oath (to gods) to be a truthful enabler to the resolution of disputes. The judges, usually wisened old men, with integrity certification, fearless and courageous, sit over issues with wisdom.
It was from generation to generation, the project of communal and cultural heritage put on the table, in the village square, bearing the burden of toxic issues navigated through the vehicle of community development in view, knowing what ails a few may dislocate the dreams of the majority.
And with the coming of colonisation and its attendant modernization, Nigeria’s cultural vehicle and its human cargo became victims of a global cultural accident, abandoned in the clinic of manipulative foreign influences, robotic and struggling to find the old, cherished cultural path and way of life.
No doubt, Nigeria is struggling, and like a dam waiting to burst, with very dire consequences for over 200 million people, a way out must be found through cultural engagement as of old.
And in a world bent on self-destruction, where technology and communication have become toxic cargoes of imperialism and recolonialisation of nations and peoples, Nigeria and Nigerians, lost in the mix of carefully packaged Armageddon, quake and tremble in confusion.
Here, at this crossroad, certainly a worrisome threat to the survival of the nation, a time for a rethink of our cultural experience and expectations, the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), pooled strategic efforts to re-examine the roles of the Nigerian avant-garde media architecture in tracking and sustaining the values of Nigerian culture in engendering peaceful coexistence and national security.
Ado Yahuza, chief executive officer of NICO, headlined the intervention in Kano, last week, praying for a serious interrogation of the role of the media in the quest to protect our culture for the sake of peace and national security.
Yahuza, since his coming to this strategic organ of government over a year ago, had taken to engaging Nigerian’s rich culture content, targeting young persons, and like an evangelist, pursued the restoration of our values through focal agenda on our traditional ways of life, languages and temperance.
At this conference, during which the rains gave Kano a call sign on the impact of climate change, Yahuza canvassed a national cultural movement if Nigeria must gain rapid growth in all developmental aspirations.
There is no denying that culture is the bedrock of national development, bearing peace and security on its wings. Carefully selected faculty gave the subject matter a thorough review and submitted that Nigeria must be made to go back the old way.
My space won’t give me the liberty to clearly reflect on the papers presented at this very thoughtful and rewarding engagement, in which deliberately researched papers in critical developmental milestones were presented.
Topics on “Culture, banditry and national security challenges”, “The Nigerian media, patriotism and quest for peace and security” and “Role of the media in prevention or escalation of conflicts in Nigeria,” were chronicled.
Other topics included “Cultural dynamics and the challenges for sustainable peace and security in Nigeria,” “Social mobilization and security awareness: The synergy between security agencies and the media” and “The phenomenon of hate speech and fake news: Implications for peace and security in Nigeria.”
The authors will gain exposure on this page in weeks to come but suffice to say that each resource person was at liberty to clearly reflect off the assigned topic to enrich the solution process.
Journalism lecturer and columnist, Professor Bala Muhammed, in his presentation on “Nigerian media, patriotism and quest for peace and security” in Nigeria, alarmed me with suggestions to carpet-bomb forest ecosystems across the country as panacea to the rash of insurgency and kidnappings across Nigeria.
He wondered at the structure of conservation structure and implementation in the country and we squared up on the fact that states and local governments have abandoned their roles in ensuring that our flora ecosystem as of old is captured in national development agenda.
Indeed, as natural laboratories for hydrology, pharmaceutical and agrotourism heritage, sentiments inspired by frustrating antics of criminals hiding under forest covers bear no solution to suggestions to wipe out our forest ecosystem, not with climate change staring us in the face.
Significantly, the media bears the brunt in the failings of a nation where corruption is now a national creed. So, how does the media fare in this trajectory? Stringent calls were made to invest more in the exposure of the media in reporting culture as peace harbinger and enabler.
Director-general, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, in a goodwill message, advocated a strategic creative national educational visits for the media and a developmental cultural knowledge based programme to create awareness and inaugurate the baseline for reportage of Nigeria’s diversity in culture, religion and history.
The social media got snides and knocks for being at behest of the troubling reportage of “ invented” and deployed hate confluence of religious and political intolerance, escalated mostly by the youths who apparently fail in evaluating consequences of their actions in a nation with huge diverse culture and tradition.
To the political class, there is no denying their very corrupt influence on the people, with tendencies at variance with the best of Nigeria’s cultural history and tradition.
And in an era where everyone assumes to be a journalist and with a smartphone can influence irritations and violence, NICO must be supported, funded to bridge gaps desirable to peace and security, with the traditional media, as partners to national cultural revival. Soon, on this page, each of the six papers presented by all key resource persons will be brought to your attention.