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IFRA-Nigeria has built a network of over 300 junior research fellows, being young researchers working in a/o on Nigeria social sciences and humanities. The fellow of the month is an opportunity to both highlight the benefits of the network and showcase the work of some of our most involved fellows.
Each month, discover, through a short interview, the profile and research work of the fellow of the month.

March 2020 - James OKOLIE-OSEMENE

JamesFELLOW Interview of the Fellow of the month

 March 2020 - James Okolie-Osemene (PhD candidate, at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies,   University of Ibadan, Nigeria)

"Junior researchers should attend conferences and workshop to present their findings. [...] They should not wait to be invited to serve but create opportunities for learning, accept corrections and be humble themselves."

 Being part of the IFRA fellowship…

 Describe yourself briefly

 I am James OKOLIE-OSEMENE, alumnus of the Pan-African Doctoral Academy, University of Ghana. I am at  the advanced stage of my PhD thesis in the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. I have M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies (Ibadan) and B.A. in History and International Studies (Imo State University, Owerri). I am presently a Lecturer 1 in the Department of International Relations, and Coordinator of the General Studies Unit, Wellspring University, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. I am Associate Member of the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP), and also a member of the Research Working Group on Nationalism in Transnational Age, Nord University Norway since 2019.

Since when are you a fellow of IFRA-Nigeria?

Since 2010/2011 academic session when I when I was doing my M.A. degree.

How have you benefited from IFRA-Nigeria?

I won the Best Masters Project in IFRA-Nigeria 2012 Grants for Field Research in the Social Science and the Humanities

I also got a grant from IFRA-Nigeria Watch in 2014 to conduct research on oil companies and lethal violence in Nigeria.

IFRA funded my participation at the 2017 the 17th Mega-Chad Network International Conference on Insecurities in the Lake Chad Basin, organised by Association Mega-Tchad, Cedex, at the Université–Sophia Antipolis, in Nice, France from June 13-17 2017.

I attended IFRA masterclass on 10 myths of violence in Nigeria in December 2017 hosted by Dr. Elodie and Prof. Perouse.

I also attended the course Challenges of analysing armed conflicts in Africa, taught by late Prof James J. Hentz (May his soul rest in peace).

Through these programmes, I gained methodological and analytical skills, the secrets of successful field work and relevance of new data in every research.

As a member of the IFRA family, I cite IFRA-Research Fellow whenever I attend any academic programme within and outside Nigeria.

Have you contributed to IFRA in any way?

Yes, I have contributed to the achievement of IFRA’s missions in several ways since the year 2011, namely: (a) I supported in the successful organisation of the International Conference on Patrimony, Identity and Memory in Africa (hosted by Dr. Gerard Chouin) (b) I represented IFRA at the 2014 TOKI conference organised by ISKO France in Lagos when Dr. Xavier Moyet was the Director (c) I also assisted in transcribing the interviews conducted during the HABITELE project around 2013 (d) I am Biblio Nigeria Reviewer, an IFRA project which publishes new publications about Nigeria every two months (e) I contributed to the Human trafficking for sexual exploitation Research Project, 8-months Research programme (2015-2016) funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.

A bit more about yourself….

What are your main research interests?

My research interests are Post-conflict peacebuilding, security provision, terrorism, insurgency & counterinsurgency, violence research, human rights, border security and peace education, rural & urban criminal operations, Pan-African security. In 2019, I added Neighbourhood Level Research to my research interests with the aim of linking my studies to neighbourhood issues to meet the needs of Nigerian society. This is because most challenges facing Nigeria in this 21st Century are neighbourhood problems in areas of security, health, development and education.

What research project are you currently working on?

(a) I am presently studying the success of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme in Sierra Leone (b) mapping the tools of conducting neighbourhood level research before, during and after the study. (c) I am also studying the sources and consequences of lethal violence in Nigerian universities. These are ethnographic studies. My fieldwork experiences are noteworthy: It is challenging conducting fieldwork in Nigeria; some people think researchers have funds to distribute; it is easier to conduct research in non-government institutions; Having access to data is more problematic in government institutions like security agencies than in communities; It is more objective to conduct fieldwork in communities where you have entry points and researchers must first identify individuals willing to assist in this regard to lead the way but they should explain the nature of the research to them.

What is the main advice you will give to a junior researcher (post-graduate or early PhD)?

Junior researchers should attend conferences and workshop to present their findings. They should be willing and make themselves available for mentoring especially by learning from Senior scholars despite their busy schedules. They should not wait to be invited to serve but create opportunities for learning, accept corrections and be humble themselves.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I see myself in different parts of the world, as a Senior scholar that would be available to address some of the challenges facing Africa, supporting policy makers and think tanks in area of people-centred knowledge production for peaceful and safer society.  

What’s your plans for next?

I want to spend the next three years mentoring early career researchers especially those interested in starting their PhD degrees within and outside Nigeria. Apart from creating more platforms for early career researchers, I will also make myself available to collaborate with Postdoctoral researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

Anything else you’d like to share with us…

I think conducting research in Africa is an area that students should endeavour to be ready to make sacrifice instead of seeing research as an opportunity to make money or enjoy themselves. They should be willing to spend some money no matter how little, before expecting people to assist them. The interest of every focused researcher should target the production of new data.

More information about James OKOLI-ESEMENE:

Check his Research gate profile

Check his Academia profile

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