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Is UCJ Unilorin the oldest campus news outlet in Nigeria?

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Claim: The Union of Campus Journalists (UCJ) at the University of Ilorin (UCJ UNILORIN) is the oldest campus news outlet in Nigeria.

UCJ UNILORIN is not the oldest campus news outlet in Nigeria.

Full Text

Student-led media organisations are changing the face of Nigeria’s news industry; arming students with relevant journalistic skills and tools and awakening them to the responsibility of accountability in the society. One of these is the Union of Campus Journalists (UCJ) at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Kwara State in North-Central Nigeria.

The report spotlighted the role of campus-led media in advancing journalism Nigeria.

Recently, IJNet, a publication of the International Center for Journalists (ICJ), reported how this organisation is advancing journalism in Nigeria, serving as a voice for students and “offering passionate students with little to no experience in journalism an opportunity to develop their talents.”

UCJ University of Ilorin

The report designated UCJ UNILORIN, founded in 1996, as the “oldest campus news outlet in Nigeria.”

An excerpt from the report showing the claim

There are over 68 student-led media organisations in tertiary institutions across Nigeria, according to the National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ), which oversees their activities. 

They are registered as institutional press clubs, Unions of Campus Journalists (UCJ) or Associations of Campus Journalists (ACJ), and operate as news outlets on their respective campuses.

Verification

Assessing the claim by IJNet, Dubawa reached out to Samuel Ajala, President of the National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ); the umbrella body of student-led media organizations in Nigeria. Mr Ajala said that the campus outlet at the University of Ibadan, and not that at University of Ilorin, is the oldest in Nigeria.

“UCJ U.I is the oldest and not UNILORIN,” he told Dubawa.

UCJ University of Ibadan

The Union of Campus Journalists (UCJ) at the University of Ibadan was established on June 17, 1987. It “has successfully produced 32 presidents and thousands of campus journalists and influential pillars of society,” Martins Isaac, who led the organization, told TheCable in 2019.

Further research by Dubawa found a report announcing the emergence of Faith Alofe as the 50th President of the Association of Campus Journalists (ACJ), the student-led media organisation at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Alofe, who was elected on September 25, 2021, is the first female President of the association.

“ACJ OAU was founded alongside the institution’s students union,” she said, tracing the history of the campus media outlet. The OAU students’ union was formed in 1963; a year after the university was established.

ACJ Obafemi Awolowo University

Corroborating Alofe’s position, Olusola Oludiran, who led ACJ-OAU in the 2018/2019 session, told Dubawa that the campus media organization had enjoyed the membership of notable personalities including human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana; the university’s current vice chancellor, Eyitope Ogunbodede, and Publisher of Nigeria’s leading newsroom, Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi.

“Many notable Nigerians today were members of ACJ during their days at OAU, many years ago. For instance Femi Falana SAN, who graduated from OAU in 1981, was a member of the ACJ. Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of Premium Times, was also a president of the ACJ OAU,” Oludiran, who was the organization’s 48th president, told Dubawa.

“It is important for people to know their history, to avoid distorting it.”

Conclusion

Contrary to the claim that UCJ University of Ilorin, founded in 1996, is the “oldest campus news outlet in Nigeria,” Dubawa found that campus news outlets in two other universities – UCJ University of Ibadan (1987) and ACJ Obafemi Awolowo University (1963), pre-existed before that of the University of Ilorin.

Setting the records straight, ACJ Obafemi Awolowo University is the oldest campus news outlet in Nigeria.

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