Media For Peace: Using Film, Fiction And Social Platforms To Tackle Nigeria’s Resource Conflicts – Some Policy Directions

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By Joyce Onoromhenre Agofure, (PhD)


Throughout human history, people and countries have fought over natural resources. From livestock, watering holes, and fertile land to trade routes, fish stocks and spices, sugar, oil, gold, and other precious commodities (Raji and Abejide, 2013:48). West Africa in general, and Nigeria, in particular, have experienced a substantial surge in a natural resource conflict. This is because “when resources are scarce- whether energy, water, or arable land, our fragile ecosystems become strained as do the coping mechanisms of groups and individuals. This can lead to a breakdown of established codes of conduct and even outright conflict” (Raji and Abejide, 2013:49). In this context, abundant natural resources bound to certain regions are causing a specific type of natural resource conflict, secessionism, displacement and diverse unrest.

This brief draws from comprehensive research on the efficacy of diverse media forms—specifically, cinematic productions, literary works, and social media platforms—in fostering conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives within Nigeria’s resource-rich North West and Niger Delta regions. The undertaking scrutinizes a corpus of media works, including but not limited to: Films such as Curtis Graham’s Blood and Oil and Jeta Amata’s Black November; literary works such as Egya Sule’s Makwala and Adamu Kyuka Usman’s Death of Eternity; and social media content from Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Earth Nigeria’s Facebook posts and Nigerian Environmental Humanities WhatsApp discussions. It incorporates primary data collected through interviews and focus group discussions. These diverse sources collectively elucidate the socio-economic and environmental dynamics in the conflict-affected regions. The findings indicate that excessive resource extraction has precipitated significant environmental degradation, starvation, banditry, displacements, militancy and other social disruptions, thereby undermining the sustainability of local livelihoods. This phenomenon is particularly evident in two case studies: the gold mining community of Bagega in Zamfara State and the crude oil extraction locale of Uzere in Delta State.

The Power of Media for Peace

That media interventions can be designed to advance conflict resolution and peacebuilding cannot be overemphasised. Therefore, to synthesize my findings and propose evidence-based policy recommendations for leveraging media as a tool for conflict mitigation and sustainable development in the aforementioned resource-contested areas is crucial. This brief emphasizes the role of various art forms in addressing resource-based conflicts. Literary works such as Makwala and Death of Eternity serve multiple functions: they raise awareness about local mining-related issues, demonstrate mediation techniques through dialogue, acts of compassion, and promote mindset changes via education and sensitization structures, thus laying the groundwork for peace-building alternatives.

Interviews conducted with some elders and youths in the Bagega community for instance highlight the recurring deadly conflicts arising from gold mining disputes. Corroborating this, an analysis of comments from the Nigerian Environmental Humanities WhatsApp platform suggests that resource conflicts in Bagega may be diversionary tactics enabling uninterrupted access to the region’s gold. This hypothesis is supported by observations that foreign and local mining companies operate without interference from bandits, kidnappers, or other criminal elements. The situation raises critical questions about the nature of resource conflicts in the region, given the devastating human cost: massacres of local people, creation of widows and orphans, and displacement of populations to Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps—all potential catalysts for future crises.

Focus Group Discussions in Uzere centred on the films Blood and Oil and Black November implicate successive governments—from colonial arrangements through the military period to current civilian administrations—for their negligence and poor governance in addressing resource conflicts. Content analyses of these films reveal extensive contamination of land and water bodies by crude oil, a factor pivotal to the escalating violence and hardship in the Niger Delta region.

Also, Facebook posts by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria further substantiate that the violence and protests emanating from the Niger Delta region are direct consequences of exploitation, environmental despoliation, and persistent injustice. Consequently, these artistic interventions serve multiple crucial functions:

  1. Awareness Raising: They can effectively communicate the complexities of resource conflicts to a broad audience, making abstract issues tangible and relatable.
  2. Dialogue Facilitation: Art forms provide a neutral ground for initiating difficult conversations, allowing diverse perspectives to be shared and heard.
  3. Fostering Understanding: Through emotional engagement, these mediums can bridge divides and cultivate empathy among different groups.
  4. Envisioning Solutions: Creative works can imagine and present alternative futures, inspiring concrete action towards peace.
  5. Cultural Preservation: Artistic forms can document and celebrate local cultures, reinforcing community identities in the face of change.

Put together, this multi-faceted analysis underscores the complex interplay between resource extraction, environmental degradation, governance failures, and social unrest, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive policy interventions.


Evidence from the study conducted highlights that the tussle for natural resources in Nigeria has led to conflicts in the North West and Niger Delta regions necessitates urgent policy interventions such as:

  1. Improve governance:

The regions affected by natural resource conflicts, such as gold and oil mining, require improved governance practices to address the challenges faced by the local populations. Corrupt and incompetent political leaders have contributed to the prevailing mechanisms of conflict. Potential leaders should possess strong natural resource management skills and demonstrate a commitment to providing essential public services and amenities, including schools, hospitals, healthcare, electricity, clean drinking water, good roads, and socio-economic and political conditions.

  • Implement Non-Violent Communication approach:

Non-Violent Communication (NVC) provides an alternative approach to peacebuilding by promoting compassionate communication, respectful listening, awareness, and responsibility in resolving conflicts at local, regional, and national levels. NVC should be taught in schools, government programs, and other restorative initiatives to foster empathy and understanding, thereby healing relationships fractured by violence. Establishing centers that offer NVC knowledge, skills, and training for local peacebuilders can promptly address recurrent natural resource conflicts by raising awareness, addressing conflict prevention, and collaborating with stakeholders.

  • Utilize creative media for conflict resolution:

The government should fund the creation of movies and documentaries that support peacemaking and conflict resolution efforts in dealing with resource disputes, particularly in the North West and Niger Delta of Nigeria. Stimulating the production and dissemination of artistic works that promote peace and harmony, such as movies, plays, and musical events, can be facilitated through government policies. Cultural activities, including musical performances and art exhibits, should be organized to foster acceptance, understanding, and harmony among different groups and organizations.

  • Empower local extractive communities:

Meaningful dialogue with the communities involved in gold and crude oil extraction is essential, considering the competition over resources, population growth, and increasing demand. Consultations with host communities and stakeholders should adopt a bottom-up approach, prioritizing transparency and meeting the needs of the people. Equitable distribution of benefits and sustainable development programs to host communities is crucial for fostering cooperation, collaboration, sustainable resource management, and peace. Regular meetings with chiefs, religious and traditional leaders, and community members should be held.

5. Review Resource Allocation and Environmental Remediation:

Benefits or derivation allocations should be shared inclusively, in line with present-day economic realities. This will enable sustainable initiatives that promote peace and address resource conflicts. Distribution should consider regions whose environments yield significant revenues for the national economy, ensuring a fair allocation that respects the revenue generated. Thus, given the eco-degradation often caused by mining activities, it is crucial to implement long-term clean-up projects in affected regions. This ensures thorough remediation of contaminations resulting from gold and oil mining, restoring the environments, farmlands, and rivers vital for local communities.


Various art forms can have a profound impact on conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts, particularly in the context of Nigeria’s resource-rich regions. The power of creative expression—through film, literature, and social media—offers a unique and often underutilized tool in addressing complex socio-economic and environmental challenges. By strategically leveraging these mediums, the government has the opportunity to forge meaningful partnerships with a diverse array of creative professionals. Collaborations with filmmakers can produce compelling visual narratives that illuminate the nuances of resource conflicts and showcase potential pathways to resolution. Writers can craft stories that resonate deeply with local experiences, fostering empathy and understanding across divided communities. Social media influencers, with their extensive reach and engagement, can amplify messages of peace and facilitate real-time dialogue among stakeholders. The synergy between policy initiatives and creative expression holds the potential to catalyze meaningful change, turning the narrative of conflict into one of cooperation and shared prosperity in Nigeria’s resource-rich regions.


Dr Joyce Onoromhenre Agofure, a 2022 (APN/IRF) Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria appreciates the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), New York, United States for the support towards this research.

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1 Comment

  1. Congratulations on this timely and impactful initiative! Using media and storytelling to address resource conflicts in Nigeria is a brilliant approach to promoting peace and understanding. By leveraging film, fiction, and social platforms, you can reach a wide audience and inspire meaningful conversations. I wish you success and impact as you explore policy directions to support this important work. May your efforts contribute to a more peaceful and harmonious Nigeria for all.

    Muhammad Imam Yusuf
    Department of English and Literary Studies ABU Zaria

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