The ceaseless attacks on the integrity of the University of Ilorin and its managers by the wailing remnants of the notorious Unilorin 49 took a dangerous new dimension last Monday with the successful enlistment of an otherwise reputable newsmedia organisation into the fray. Hitherto, these disgruntled elements had restricted themselves to taking out newspaper pages for paid advertorials. The latest rantings of this inexplicably bellicose gang would have been ignored like the previous ones, but for the involvement of The Nation newspaper, a news medium, which the management of the University of Ilorin holds in very high esteem.
Probably sensing that their past media war stratagem had not achieved their jaundiced objective, these fellows decided to finally go for the kill by hiding under what they think is likely to be a more credible editorial presentation. And it is unfortunate that The Nation, or, rather, the anchor of the report, one Adekunle Yusuf, fell for the bait to fraudulently confer legitimacy on a well-rehearsed set of fallacious allegations intended to mislead the members of the reading public.
Ludicrously advertised as “wide-ranging investigations that started four years ago”, the verbose three-part feature article, entitled “Exposed: How corruption, favouritism thrive in UNILORIN”, is a recap of the documents that the kingpins of the Unilorin 49 had been circulating against the management of the University for some time now. The writer has only been smart by half by merely paraphrasing the documents handed over to him by those who have made Unilorin-bashing their life-time enterprise! It will not be out of place for the management of The Nation to take a second look at that write-up and compare it with the past releases and petitions against Unilorin by these enemies of progress, with a view to checkmating this editorial fraud!
We appreciate the fact that the younger brother of a senior editor of The Nation had at one time or the other fallen foul of Unilorin’s insistence on high level of probity and discipline. We are also aware that another columnist of the newspaper is also a sister to the same senior editor and former Unilorin staff. We sympathise with the highly influential editor. But these facts do not justify the gross abuse of the sacred responsibility imposed on The Nation and other newspapers by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is quite uncharitable to use the sacred pages of a national newspaper to fight a personal war!
Even as a matter of editorial style, all the so-called allegations do not worth 10 paragraphs of a tightly edited script much less the whimsically allotted nine pages. This, to us, is a reckless waste of scarce news space that could have even been better used for more serious developmental editorial stuff or even money-spinning advertorials capable of bailing out any newspaper in the face of the current biting economic recession. Viewed from the prism of professional standard or economic consideration, this shows a high level of poor editorial judgment and a lack of economic savvy. Even the three-day serialization of the article calls to question the motive of the writer: Was his intention to intimidate the University to the point of negotiating with him on how to “kill” the story mid-way or what?
Is it not ironical that the very day the serialization of this incendiary article began, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), headed by Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, one of the objects of the attacks, published a full page advertisement in the newspaper as a sign of the high level of respect the erudite Professor has for The Nation newspaper?
If after his sponsored ambush of the University for four years, the best that the writer could come up with was that largely unwarranted and unsubstantiated beer parlour gossips and undiluted assault on the hard-earned image of the University of Ilorin and its Principal Officers, we make bold to say that the hatchet job is an off-target wild shot.
The University, in the pursuit of its quest for academic excellence and the highest standards of morals and discipline, has always strived to enforce strict standards without minding whose ox is gored. If, in the pursuit of these ideals we have stepped on certain toes of some entrenched interests, so be it and there is no apology for that. The University assures all stakeholders that it would continue, at all times, to pursue those ideals that have made Unilorin the University of first choice among Nigerians.
It is this type of demarketing of the higher educational institutions in Nigeria by selfish, unpatriotic hack writers that has, in the past, driven thousands of hapless Nigerian youths to seek admission in other countries like Ghana and even Benin Republic and Togo, where they are being assailed with substandard education while also being fleeced of scarce resources and the nation’s economy being drained of foreign exchange!
As most of the issues raised in the write-up had earlier been addressed in our previous responses to the earlier outbursts of the original peddlers of the allegations, we just want to place on record now that The Nation’s involvement in this whole bogey is as unfortunate as it is unwarranted. The editorial management of the paper will do well to purge its ranks of editorial frauds whose activities are capable of dragging the good reputation currently being enjoyed by the newspaper in the mud. Enough said!
Head of Corporate Affairs, UNILORIN