The conflict between farming communities and herders in Nigeria has increased in the last four years. It has become a subject of discourse in various domains, including the media and body politic. The intensification of the crisis has spurred renewed scholarly attention to the other ways the conflict could be understood. The increased role of media in the crisis has been identified, but existing studies on the role of the media focus on media reportage, framing and coverage. There is relatively scare research on the politics of media discourse of the conflict, which can reveal representations of subjects and identities, subject-positions, subjectivity and power relations in the narrative of the conflict. Thus, this research analyses the politics of newspapersâ€™ discourse of the conflict in Nigeria. The representations of the conflict cluster around five albeit overlapping themes, namely causes, victims, consequences, governmentâ€™s responses and resolution strategies to the conflict. The discourse of the dispute is constructed as a security issue which embodies other forms of security viz national security, food security, the security of statehood and unity of the nations that make up the Nigerian state. The article shows that the construction of the conflict draws on the political and ideological dispositions of the papers. It argues that the link between the newspapersâ€™ representation of the conflict and the strategies they proposed for curbing the dispute is weak. Thus, while media representations of the conflict can reveal the various contestations in the framing of the conflict in Nigeria, it might be insufficient to establish the link between discourse, identity and policy. Further, it argues that developing a sustainable strategy for the resolution of the crisis requires among other things, a national dialogue.
Author(s): Cletus Famous Nwankwo, Romanus U. Ayadiuno, Alphonsus N. Ali, Ignatius A. Madu