Objectivity is a significant principle in the ethics of journalism. It is an essential characteristic that guides journalists to be fair, factual, disinterested and non-partisan. This same principle is the basic ingredient upon which the foundation of our union – The Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan, is built. For many years, this culture of impartiality has been preserved by one generation of campus journalists after another. It is a sacred principle that has never been compromised before, it is something we are not compromising and under no circumstance will we ever compromise it.
Since the inception of the Union of Campus Journalists in 1987, there has been integrated effort to make sure that the union is independent and devoid of any political interference. The Union, since its establishment, has been the voice of the students and has championed many notable causes against oppression, injustice. She has always lived by her motto “freedom championed by the pen”. She has also not relented in performing her dedicated duties of informing and entertaining. All these duties are specially carried out through some of her activities like the weekly publications, special press releases, press conferences, symposiums, forums, debates among others.
The Annual Presidential debate is another of such programs organised by the union for aspirants going for the posts of president and vice president. This is a debate program organised for these set of aspirants to provide a platform where they can intimate the students about their program and give the students an opportunity to ask salient questions and to access the mental capabilities of their would-be leaders. This program has been a success all through the years and has been a major deciding factor for eventual success of outstanding aspirants.
This year’s edition of the presidential debate which held on the 5th of July, 2014 at the Students’ Event centre drew a lot of controversies with criticisms coming from some quarters accusing the union of being biased and supporting the school management. The accusing finger came from the camp of one of the disqualified aspirants for the presidential post, Mr. Teslim Ogundiran Teslim. They offered to address the students there seated, and as reason demands, this offer was declined. This action was taken by virtue of the fact that it is not in the power of the union to confer legitimacy, or otherwise, on any of the candidates. This power is exclusive to the electoral commission.
In the spirit of equity and transparency, however, the Union has decided to uphold the second rule of natural justice [i.e. audi alteram partem, ‘hear the other side‘] by granting fair-hearing to, the affected parties. This will be done via a press conference slated for the 6th day of July, whereby the disqualified aspirants will have the chance of addressing the entire student-community, clearing possible doubts and defending their innocence where necessary.
Though many student-politicians have used the press platform to gather momentum before pursuing their political ambitions later on, there has not been any recorded case where the union gave preferential treatment to any of those students either directly or indirectly as a result of their earlier involvement in the press. This has more than re-established the union’s commitment to the discovery of truth and reporting from a critical point of view devoid of bias and favouritism.
The Union of Campus Journalists as a body is in no way interested in any of the candidates or their political ideologies. The union is also not interested in supporting the decision of the school management as accused by some quarters. Rather the focus is on providing the electorate with information relating to the electoral processes. This, we shall continue to do by publishing news-stories, interviews and by organizing public discourses on issues pertaining to the elections.