Ever since the heartbreaking events of the last semester which led to the suspension of the Students’ Representative Council and the leadership of the Students’ Union, the fourth estate of the realm – the Union of Campus Journalists – has taken it upon itself to advocate for the recognition of the dignity of the student-body. It has charged its members to heighten their vigilance and awaken their consciousness, updating the mental awareness of the students with thought-provoking writings and accurate reportage. However, the Union of Campus Journalists (henceforth referred to mononymously as the “Union”) has faced staunch criticisms for reasons which are puzzling and tangential at best.
The motivation for my writing is not born of disgust with the way the name of the Union is dragged in the mud by naysayers who believe in the discrediting of night-toilers. It is not a response to the robotic hate-spewing of dogmatic reprobates who have been programmed to label the Union a host of negatives. This is in response to those who have put forth logical, but flawed arguments.
For way too long, a narrative has been hoarded around by unfair detractors; a narrative which portrays the Union as a bunch of opportunistic fame-whores who would use the tragedy befalling the Students’ Union as a way to elevate themselves, while secretly kowtowing to the demands of the management. This narrative paints us as a bunch of bigoted lazy bones who cannot work for the re-instatement of the Students’ Union leadership. But such narratives are steeped in dangerous bias and terrible myopia.
To state that the Union of Campus Journalists was silent during that period is to pretend that the Union is an abstract entity which necessarily must stand on its own. It is to ignore the writings of Adedokun Seyi, Sanya Martins, Tobi Adegoke, Haleem Olatunji, Alao Abiodun Joshua and a host of others who diplomatically attempted to raise student consciousness while proffering lasting solutions to the bane of the SU leadership. It is to conveniently ignore the fact that the President of the Union, Samuel Arowosafe, called two back-to-back meetings the moment the terrible events started to occur. This is without even taking to consideration the numerous convergences to come up with editorials and press releases.
It pains me to read such writings accusing the Union of doing nothing; supporting the management’s stance and even going as far as threatening Ojo Aderemi. My God! Where did all of this even come from? Immediately following the suspension, one of the earliest releases by the Union of Campus Journalists contains this frank, straight-to-the-point passage:
“Many have become champions in the art of the blame game, deliriously dishing out insults towards the figures accused of being constituent factors in the turn-out of events. Others have shown indifference. However, we as the Union of Campus Journalists have chosen to rise to the occasion as the consciousness of the campus society. We hereby condemn, with no reservations whatsoever, the decision of the school management to strip the students of their rights to association and expression.
Our aim is not to vilify the management, as we understand that they might have taken the step thinking it was the most pragmatic action. However, we express our strong aversion towards this insensitive action which fails to take into consideration the full humanity of students with regards to their right to seek accountability for what they believe to be their entitlement.”
While you may, for whatever reason, not agree with the wording of this passage, how could you possibly read this and still be able to claim in broad daylight, that the Union was silent? Or has silence not been redefined to mean well-calculated response? I really do wonder.
Another point of criticism was the second (or third? I forget) release by the Union, asking for caution in dealing with the management, in order to ensure things do not escalate to violent ends which would then vilify the Students’ Union further, ultimately destroying any chance of reaching a consensus with the management. But of course, the arsenal of criticisms was waiting to be unleashed on the poor heads of the pen-pushers. Apparently, to say or write anything that was not in strict accordance with the philosophy of “Na we against the management, fire for fire ni seh” was a crime with no chance of penance. If we do not learn to accept certain uncomfortable truths, then we are headed for the kind of disaster I have always predicted.
Of course, it does not end there. Some have argued that instead of writing so openly (which is what the Union primarily stands for), the members should have called Ojo Aderemi in private to give him advice. Apart from the fact that the said Ojo was at the moment being swarmed with unsolicited advice from here and there and it was practically impossible to hope to get a meaningful word in amidst the noise, the Union was taking it upon itself to kill two birds with one stone – get the attention of the relevant people and sensitize the student-body further. That is not all. To claim that the Union is a home to jobless, armchair critics is to don the toga of debilitating ignorance.The number of Union members who, as their individual selves, practically became advisers to Ojo Aderemi during this time cannot be overstated. Of course, that would not be made public now, would it? It seems easy to judge with little facts now, doesn’t it?
And to claim that the Union has selfish interests is puzzling. This is not the UCJ of 2008 or 2009 or 2010 which was so political to the extent of having certain interests to protect. In what scenario now, could the Union have a selfish agenda to push? I cannot even fathom a possible interest this disastrous times in our SU’s history could have for the Union. As an insider in the Union (and I think, ordinary pressman like me, I still know one or two things about journalism around here), I can assure you that no one with some clandestine goals has enough influence within the Union as to dictate what would be published in its name. No bias ever survives the scrutiny of light. If there were to be any bias, then it is firmly on the side of the students, though none exists. I remember in the early days of Ojo Aderemi’s leadership, I found myself continually being disillusioned with certain members of the Executive Council but I chose to give my thoughts in private to avoid demoralizing the hardworking man-at-the-center. Why? Pragmatism. We are taught by the Union of Campus Journalists, that glorious association of nobility, to keep in mind that the important thing is not just criticism for the sake of it, but results. And I assure you, that is what the Union has always been dedicated to.
If you still believe the Union of Campus Journalists is a biased, selfish organisation, you are certainly free to believe in your dark fantasy but let the records show that we have at least tried our best to correct those misconceptions. God bless you and your beliefs. Welcome to the new semester. When is Book of Life coming out sef?
WRITTEN BY: KAYINSOLA