The press club UNILAG had it’s intellectual forum on Saturday, 17th February. the club invited a soon to be alumnus(once convocation is eventually conducted), intellectual, linguist, award wining writer. Amaechi Emmanuel .O to engage the press men in an intellectual discuss and he presented this detailed paper on “crime,causes,campus, and campus journalist:swimming against the tide”
IT is not a gainsaying, the fact that the world today is riddled with crisis and violence of different proportion and degrees. Almost everywhere one turns to, one gets to see a gory sight of horrible acts of man, or one gets to hear of a disparaging tales of nefarious acts of man’s inhumanity to fellow man. The prevalence of crime in the world at general is a cause for serious worry— for all and sundry. Crime, in whatever shape undermines the social fabric by eroding the sense of safety and security. It is either happening in Asia, America, Africa, or Europe. People take up arms and descend on fellow humans at the minutest provocation. Whether offended or not, the consequences of criminal activities are grave. Crime impacts on the society in variety of ways according to the nature and extent of offences committed. It constitutes a problem when its incidences are so rampant, such as we are witnessing in recent dispensation – rape, theft, and cultism. The happenings on campus constitute a threat to security of persons, property, as well as social security net, order, and solidarity of students.
Crime is a concept in the social sciences. As it’s often problematic to pin down a definite definition to concepts, theories and ideologies such as this, scholars have been regaled in trying to generate a definition to crime which will be well fitting in whatever context. The philosopher, the historian, the theologian, the scientists, the sociologist, the legal practionner, and the literati/linguists, may have different resonating semantic differentiation about the notion of a crime. But in a strict legal sense, crime is the breaking of rules or laws for which some governing authority (via mechanisms such as legal systems) can ultimately prescribe a conviction. Without broiling ourselves much into the polemics of legal rhetoric and jargon, we can safely say that “a crime is that which is forbidden by law and society”. As put by Nwabueze (2011), “it is any anti-social behaviour, act or failure/refusal to live up to the standard of conduct deemed binding by the rest of the community”. Emily Durhkeim considers it as an integral aspect of the society, and ‘normal”, in that it has existed in societies throughout history – whether pre-dated or contemporary.
Causes of crime in our societies abound. As we all know, nothing happens for nothing and by nothing. Some critics have adduced reasons why people engage or indulge in crime and criminal acts. Some of these reasons includes but not limited to poverty, peer pressure, greed, anger, environment, low self esteem, moral decadence, the human condition (the mind); social, political and economic reasons, low moral standard, mental instability. Well then, not everyone will agree to some of these reasons, but the truth remains that they constitute the core beliefs why humans engage in crime. And it is obvious that we can relate with some of the above reasons as to why people engage in crime. Someone even stated that poor academic performances and failure are resultant effects of evil, immoral behaviour and activities such as cultism, drug abuse, campus cohabitation, prostitution, and others.
The university community is part of the larger human society that exists. As it appears, the Press has decided to beam it search light on our campuses by organizing a forum such as this – at the umpteen time, to deliberate upon crime and criminal acts. University of Lagos is among the comity of top rank higher institutions in Nigeria. With a razmatazzing slogan as “University of First Choice and the Nation’s Pride”, “Indeed and in Truth,” as its glorious motto, the school is respected. Notorious for excellence and situated in the Centre of Excellence — Lagos State, Unilag has been experiencing some pockets of crime wave, criminal intentions by students in varying degrees of delinquencies. Some are found out, while others go unnoticed by the public. All these leaves an average Pressman in a dilemma of the crocodile in the water; a lion awaiting in the bush, and a python atop the tree scenario, while the Pressman is hanging afloat in the air.
While crimes such as robbery, corruption, adulteration of food and drugs, kidnapping, child trafficking, bribery, fraud, advanced fee fraud, money laundry, cyber utopia, murder, burglary, and smuggling of contraband goods are realities which have defined our world today, peculiar to our university campuses are cultism, drug abuse, theft, internet scam (yahoo-yahoo), examination malpractices, aristo lifestyle (prostitution), and then, rape – as we have at hand. All these are act capable of destroying and destructing the peace and sanity of either the person involved or the society at large. These crimes to a large extent has wrecked lives, rendered some of those involved in it useless for themselves, their family and whatever they stand for. A visit to some of our prisons, law enforcement custodies, rehabilitation homes, and psychiatric hospitals will leave you in no doubt.
Having seen the above, let not your adrenaline start rising high to want to chide and haul stones of blame and “crucify them chant” on our Nigerian universities campus dwellers. Do not cast aspersions where it is not needed. For the record, crimes akin to our campus environment are not the stock-in-trade of unilag community. The National Center for Education, United States of America reported that “school and students violence reached a peak in 1993. That year, very serious violence was done by students such as rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault, and robbery”. This is just one example out of myriads of criminal activities embarked upon by students all over campuses in the world. So, these crimes are not the exclusive preserve of the universities in Nigeria.
There are particular form of crime that are usually a recurring decimal whenever names of bastardly bestial acts are mentioned amongst university students — rape, cultism, and theft. These three seem to hold sway in every campus community. And of course, rape is become a by-word in the mouths of living souls, as we witness this on daily basis.
The spate at which rape cases are reported in our society, is really alarming. Fathers raping their daughters; some randy clergymen committing pedophile, young loose, immorally demonic boys going about raping young girls and even older women; morality and caution has been thrown to the dogs, and we are crest fallen. History shows us that cult activities in tertiary institutions began in the University of Ibadan. The first secret cult in Nigeria came into existence in the wake of the 1950s, when a group of seven students, led by Wole Soyinka (Prof) founded the Seadog Confraternity, also known as the Pyrate. Aig-Imoukhuede, Pius Oleghe, Ralph Opara, Nat Oyelo, and Muyiwa Awe (Prof.), were the Founding Fathers of this cult. The sole objectives of this cult were as clear as crystal: to fight colonialism; to end tribalism and elitism; and to ensure the dignity of man. Isn’t this pure and organic an ideology? Their ideas were patriotic, righteous and altruistic as it had no indices of a violent secret cult. They were not clandestine in their operations and activities. The purpose revolved around the maintenance of polite, gentlemanly behaviour among persons of different background and calling; and chivalry portrayed and exemplified the dreams of these sages. Its members engaged in humanitarian activities such as donation of blood to hospitals to save lives and presentation of gifts to orphans to assist the less privileged in the society. These are noble causes which indeed added meaning to lives. But today, you and I can tell better, the true definition of cultism on our campuses! Fine, cultism and cult related activities may not be too pronounced in Unilag, but rape, drug abuse, theft – at gun point, violent clashes, and aristo, are not alien to us.
As you are listening or reading this, I am quite sure that your mind is processing a whole lot of things. You know what violence can result to. You know how expensive it could be to quell crises. Do you have any inkling of what trauma a raped victim go through? Perhaps, its unfathomable the pain incurred by the loss of a person’s money or property. If you had ever experienced what it means to lose your belongings either in your hostel, home, place of worship, or to be ordered at gun point by an unscrupulous miscreants on campus to part ways with that which are yours, you will understand that crime is truly not good. It was the South African reggae maestro, Lucky Dube of blessed memory who echoed it in his lyrics that “crime does not pay”. The victim of crime is affected badly, as well as the perpetrator — when caught by the law enforcement agent (s)
In the whole of these, where does a typical campus journalist stand? What’s your role in all of these? What part of the divide are you to stand? What’s your relevance in the scheme of things as they unfold on campus every day? How do you go about exposing crime and criminal on campus? By Campus Journalist translates to mean that you function on campus and deal with campus related matters as a writer, reporter on news and current events. That is to say that by profession, you keep journals where you write regularly. By purpose, you write in the printed or soft media, and by passion, you are a servant to the public. You are the public’s eye, ear, mouth, nose, and legs. You pretty well know how important these parts of the body are.
Do permit me to reiterate the very primary tripod function of the Press (media) which is to inform, educate and entertain the masses. There can hardly be any meaningful, viable society without a vibrant progressive media. What is the cause of the disenchantment, angst, disgruntled stance of people, especially the younger generation over government policies, programmes and projects? simple. They are either uninformed, misinformed, or disinformed, by those whose duty it is to do the right thing. The imperativeness of the Press in human society cannot be exhausted in one public discourse adventure. Reckoning with this fact was the formerly American President, Thomas Jefferson who stated that “were it left for one to choose whether to have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I shall not hesitate a moment to choose the latter”. Note that the media determines dominant values, perceptions and attitudes of the society, by impacting on it. The Press shapes opinions and public views on issues. For any activity, event, happenings, whether good or bad to be noticed, it must be reported by the Press.
As a Campus Journalist, if you are not tactically and technically informed or aware of the happenings around you, how can you be relevant? How can you report it if you are oblivion of your environment and what goes on? So, the first step in curtailing crime on our campuses will be to register our presence on the campus community. As a body, we need to be visible in all fronts. Create your presence. Be conscious of what is happening in and outside the campus environment. Our place as Campus Journalists is to ensure that our information dissemination channels (our website, magazine, social media platform, ourselves, articles being posted on our notice boards in our halls of residence, massive deployment of creative intellectual write up on crime and its consequences) which is usually simultaneously to a large, heterogeneous, anonymous and to a scattered audience, is harnessed and used maximally.
Also, when we report as Pressmen, we should avoid selective reporting of prejudicial stereotypes about groups and individuals; shallow and episodic coverage, use of inflammatory, misleading and sensational headlines, and making generalized statements that are not backed by facts. Campus Journalist a matter of its traditional role, need to set agenda for herself in devising ways of tackling the security challenges confronting the campus community. It must provide platforms for discussions which bother on criminal acts and other social malaise. Consistent meaningful and responsible coverage of acts that breeds crime and insecurity on our campuses should be the fortae of a Campus Journalist. We can carry out a campaign to sensitize the university community about the heinous activities of cultists, how they operate, and rapists in their immoral diabolic moves, and the ladies, to be ware.
It is unarguable that we live in a tech world. A Campus Journalist, without any act of sophistry should seize in on some of these technologies to enhance his/her operation. We can make a podcast/ a short video, periodically— just talking about crime, its repercussion and the needs for students to stay off crime. Podcasts have served as a whistle blowing tool in creating awareness on vices wherever it exists. Let’s try it out.
As means of welfare packages, because Pressmen are not paid, the school management should support, approve and back the Press in all her activities in every front. The Press must strive to earn the admiration of the management and make herself the life wire of the institution by intermediating between management cum students, students cum students, and the public, generalissimo. The Campus Journalist should not fail to engage the fellowships on campus. The preachers in these gatherings could be used to carry out the job of the journalist, because of their large audience base at a single meeting. They can admonish the congregation by drumming the issue of crime, and help to awaken the consciousness of the vulnerably wary students to be on the alert anytime, anywhere! As an external help meet, governments and authorities of higher institutions in Nigeria should actively monitor the movements of students. This can be achieved through the provision of security personnel who are well trained in human psychology to be able to identify drug addicts, cultists and prospective rapists on campuses.
Principally ladies and gentlemen, section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended entrusted the media with the power to monitor governance and uphold the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy as enshrined in chapter 2 of the same constitution. This means that by default, you as a Campus Journalist have been empowered, because you can function outside of the campus environment, to monitor, investigate and report crimes. So, impri ma to, Press Club, Unilag, is under obligation. As succinctly captured by Joseph Pulitzer “there is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, and there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy. Get all these things out in the open, describe them, attack them, ridicule them in the press, and sooner or later, public opinion will sweep them away.
Crime is a human problem. It is not exclusively a Nigerian universities thing. It has a universal outlook. Its consequences are huge. Rape, theft cultism, drug abuse, examination malpractices, and internet scam are crimes common to students on campus. A Campus Journalist is usually bewildered by these social acts which reduce human beings to beast. But then, he cannot keep quiet when he sees or hears of these evils, but write and report it. The place of a Campus Journalist is like the place of air in the human nostril. Why? because, information keeps the worlds going. Let there be a breakdown in communication, then anarchy will reign supreme amongst men. The Press needs to deploy everything in her creative arsenal in making sure that cases of crimes of different shades don’t go on noticed. Our duty is to write. If you hear of, see of, told of crime, and you don’t investigate it in order to write and publish it, then you are an accomplice who is abetting crime and criminals.
Ladies and gentlemen, to expose and eliminate criminal elements on our campuses, what do you do as a profession, a purpose, and a passion, as a Campus Journalist?