Search for Common Ground has been engaged in Nigeria since 2004, modeling innovative media products that encourage understanding across ethnic, religious and gender lines. These media products create an opportunity for dialogue and feedback around important issues such as accountability, corruption, transparency and peaceful conflict resolution. In 2008, SFCG established an office in Abuja with the goal of expanding its engagement on the ground in Nigeria. From this base, SFCG supports its ongoing media programming as well as launches new activities focused on youth leadership and conflict mediation.
SFCG-Nigeria's long-term goals are:
To improve access to information about policies and decisions that affect communities' welfare; and
To promote peace building in areas of tension.
Tomorrow is a New Day
The European Union is providing support for Search for Common Ground's (SFCG) new project in the Niger Delta which contributes to the national amnesty process focusing on reconciliation and reintegration of ex-militants at the community level.
The focus of the work is on community reconciliation as a part of the amnesty process provided by the Government of Nigeria in three core states of the Niger Delta: Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa States.
The project is implemented through partnerships with local experts, Nigerian NGOs and International NGOs. The 18 month project has several streams of work: community level reintegration, developing community radio stations and media programs, and a trauma healing element.
Community-level conflict resolution requires more than reintegrating ex-militants. To help ensure long-term stability, the project team will build the capacity of communities to resolve communal conflict. Through the project's activities, foundations for a stronger civil society will be developed in and among communities - foundations that encourage communities to see amnesty as something that empowers not only ex-militants, but everyone.
The Tomorrow is A New Day project was designed to support among other activities the establishment of community radios in 6 target communities, to harness the powerful tool that the radio can be to facilitate social change. However, the Nigerian Government has not begun granting community radio licenses, and it does not appear that the licenses will be granted within the project period. Thus, the European Union has been working closely with SFCG and our technical partner, the Institute for Media and Society, to develop an alternative media component that will still give voice to all members of the communities in the Niger Delta, including the historically marginalized, and to address the rumours and misinformation that fuel violence.
The radio dramas developed under this project will help address rumors and misinformation that can fuel violence. Through entertaining, balanced and diverse media, the project will provide opportunities for individuals and communities to understand concerns, challenges, and success stories about reintegration and reconciliation.
Trauma Healing Activities
Qualified psychological counselors will assess persistent traumas at the community level and will organize trauma healing activities in response. Activities are locally tailored and culturally appropriate, and include small group discussions, storytelling or video discussions; ceremonial events; and/or artistic activities such as drumming, theatre or dance.
The idea behind the "Keep Oporoza Clean" peace walk was initiated by residents during an interactive town hall meeting. The objective of these solidarity activities is to bring various community groups together and work towards the development of the community while fostering peaceful co-existence between the groups.
Members of the Oporoza community gathered to conduct a five-day sanitation campaign to remove refuse from communal spaces. The peace walk created an opportunity for different groups to work together in a productive and constructive atmosphere which enabled all groups to make their own contibutions towards the peace process.