By Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
YBTC News—Like the mainstream media outfits, campus publications and efforts of student-journalists also help in shaping public opinions as they provide relevant information. Aside from keeping students and their universities’ communities updated on relevant issues, they aid in upholding the freedom of speech and expression right.
If priority will be given to campus journalists, just the way Students’ Union Governments, in our various higher institutions, are permitted to freely operate, they would have effectively played their miniature role as the society’s watchdog in campuses.
But unfortunately, that is not the case. Rather, they have become objects of victimization by ‘overbearing’ school authorities.
Many campus journalists, across the country, have bitter tales to share on how they were ‘victimized’ by school managements over stories and articles they had published which was considered rather to sensitive to the schools’ image.
The case of Abdulsalam Mahmud a campus journalist with the campus life section of The Nation newspaper, who was supposed to graduate in 2016 but was delayed for additional three years for reporting about an incident in his school where results of students who apply for direct entry admission after their diploma programme in a bid to proceed with their studies are deliberately delayed by the school’s management.
Mahmud’s, story was tittled “varsity applicants battle institution for result” the aim of the story was to compel the school authority to quickly consider the release of the students’ results. But in reaction to this, the management considered the report as injurious, offensive and false and as such was capable of tarnishing the image of the school. This however, led to the seizure of Mahmud’s result.
Also, a campus journalist from Usman Danfodio University and an investigative reporter, Olarotimi faced series of intimidation, harassment when he reported the case of some students who didn’t have accommodation and were seen sleeping outside and as the school management refused to take any action.
He took to his pen and reported the situation to make sure the students get the attention or at least the concerned authority to come to their aid. However, the management were close to being happy about the reports and as such he was suspended for some semesters as a penalty for his action.
Not only do we find it strange in the current dispensation of modern terms and in the post-colonial era, it looks strange that school authorities have failed to observe that this young and promising intellectuals works only aim to improve the standard of our university’s culture in terms of transparency, accountability and adequacy through their writings without any malicious intent.
Body of campus journalists drawn across different universities in Nigeria, have frowned against the action of university of Ibadan management as regards the suspension of Kunle Adebajo, an award winning campus journalist for crafting an investigative story about the university of Ibadan authority. Titled “UI Irony of Fashionable Rooftops and Awful Interiors”.
Also, another story is that of yours truly, a campus journalist from IBB University Lapai, Niger State, who reported misappropriation and embezzlement of fund by the then financial secretary, comrade Yahaya Faruq (aluta mayor) under the students’ union government of 2018/2019 administration.
Both the school management and the student union frowned at the report as they view it as offensive which is capable of ridiculing the image of the institution and that of the student involved.
I was called to the Dean Students’ Affairs unit and warned not to embark on such stories as it can lead to my expulsion from the system.
Amid the tales of victimization suffered by campus journalists, the union of campus journalists in our various institutions must be re-equipped to function as any other professional body with similar function.
The Nigeria union of journalists (NUJ) must help in fighting to reduce the harassment and victimization of innocent student-journalists who are offering the thankless services of informing and educating university communities.
On the other hand, school managements must outline rules to guide the practice of campus journalism. They must not be too strict or soft, but to serve as a guide for their operation. Campus journalism has done a lot, in terms of sanitizing our schools. It must not be allowed to die. We must do something about its tragic fate, at the moment.
Abaga is a 400 level student of mass communication, IBB university Lapai, Niger State.