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OPINION….. ….Enemies of progress: The letter



the nation and unilorin
By Mahfouz Adedimeji PhD

If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed – Mark Twain

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, so says an old aphorism. For the University of Ilorin, the saying rings true as it has recently been a tree blossoming with abundant fruit for which it cannot escape the stones thrown at it by hungry children or plain busybodies.
The enemies of progress are on the prowl with malevolent gusto. If they are not cyber-attacking the University to disrupt its operations and whip up sentiments against it, they are unleashing destructive physical attack on or torching the University plantations. When they fail, they resort to engaging hagiographers to weave lies against the University and its past and current leaders in the media.
In the first of a three-part intervention informed by a three-part hatchet job, The Alma Mater presents the reaction of Dr Abdulkarim A. Oloyede of the Department of Telecommunication Science to The Nation and its “investigative” reporter in which he sought a retraction of, and apology on the canard and fish story told against him. The letter begins with the extract in which Dr Oloyede was alleged to have received N17 million from the University during the Vice-Chancellorship of his father on page 29 of The Nation, March 16, 2017, after which the young don deposed as follows:
Let me put it on record that at no time did I request for, enjoy or benefit from any form of scholarship from the University of Ilorin before, during or after my father’s Vice-Chancellorship either in the sum of N17 million as alleged or any sum at all. It is noteworthy that the acceleration policy of the University of Ilorin on instant release for postgraduate studies had been in place long before I joined the services of the University of Ilorin. The Staff Development Award has been a long-standing policy that an academic staff member that wants to pursue a postgraduate programme will be given the opportunity for salary supplementation after the signing of a bond, irrespective of the length of time he/she has been in the system. Mine could not be an exception simply because my name is Oloyede and my father was the Vice-Chancellor at the relevant time.
I did not receive from the University or through the University of Ilorin any amount beyond my salary which was a provision enjoyed by all my colleagues before, during and after my PhD period as outlined in sections 7.10.1, 7.10.2 & 7.10.6 of the conditions of service for Senior Staff of the University. Section 7.10.2 specifically excludes academic staff among whom I am from the mandatory one year service to the University before proceeding on further studies. Section 7.10.2 states that “only members of staff who have been in the service of the university for a minimum period of one year in the case of Administrative and Professional staff on the recommendation of the Head of Department, Dean and Provost (where applicable) may be considered for staff development”. There are lots of such awardees who are academic staff in the University of Ilorin and if you have been diligent in investigative journalism as you want the members of the public to believe, you would have discovered this instead of the blatant lies that you published about my person.
My appointment at the University of Ilorin was sequel to a response to the advertisement by the University which was made open to all Nigerians, published on the 7th of May 2012 in many newspapers including the one that is now the platform of character assassination. I was shortlisted, interviewed and found appointable in accordance with laid down procedure. My father was not present nor did he participate in the process of my assessment. It is not unlikely that it was because I was an applicant that he delegated the evaluation process to the leadership of the Faculty to which I applied. In fact, I later got to know that I was adjudged to be either the best or the second best of those eventually appointed among the few applicants. I wonder whether being the son of Prof. Is-haq Oloyede should deny me my right as a citizen of Nigeria to seek employment in the University of Ilorin when I am qualified for same.
Indeed, my father needed not to be part of my interview process because he had empowered me with what is required to shine without his influence. In faraway UK, at the University of York, I was one of the representatives of the students in the University Senate and the University (Governing) Council among many other committees. I was also privileged to be a member of the panel that interviewed and appointed the current Vice Chancellor of the University of York when I was under the age of 30 years. If this feat had been achieved at the University of Ilorin, your journalism of character assassination would have been at work. By the grace of God, I am a holder of Ph.D. degree from one of the most prestigious Universities in the world, University of York, United Kingdom, in an area that is novel, Telecommunications Engineering, and I have been contributing my quota to the development of Nigeria.
So, today, the majority of stories we read in the newspapers is slanted, although the writers and readers seem not to bother because facts don’t really matter anymore in this era. Facts to journalist in this era is whatever they feel is true, or what they want us to be taken as true. This is why any journalist could concoct his own alternative factthat a former Vice-Chancellor of Unilorin “used his enormous influence and powers to corner his official vehicles illegally to himself”,whereas the real truth is that he is officially entitled to take away his official vehicle at the end of his tenure. This is why a journalist could orchestrate his own opinion that Unilorin VC was embarrassed by the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education in the course of his defence of the University’s 2016 budget proposal, whereas it is far from the reality as it is.These and some other stories that have slanted or no truth to them are the viral stories that many mischief-makers want to spread or hear; and post-truth journalists, who have become echo chambers of the malice of the mischief-makers, unfortunately, fall for them.
By and large, we need to be cautious of what we accept as truth because we are now living in a new world and new era. Mischief-makers with the complicity of hunter journalists, hiding stealthily in our midst, are cooking up fake news and alternative facts to further their narratives and strategic covert goals. They know that fake news will hold more convincingly in our community now that we are preparing for a change of government. Because they want to stoke our confirmatory bias, they will, without any remorse, bombard us with alternative facts that are meant to challenge the reputation of those they want to attack.
My fear about the consequences of fake news is drawn from Colleen Seifert’s assertion. In a paper entitled “The Continued Influence of Misinformation in Memory”, Seifert asserted that “there is a ‘continued influence effect’, where misinformation continues to influence judgments even if that information has already been corrected by the accused”. Responding to fake news, according to Seifer, is, therefore, difficult because the accused might again be painted as hypocritical or over-reactive. Nevertheless, correction is necessary, at least, to help readers resolve the contradictions, even if, oftentimes, the correction does not easily pierce and attenuate the biases of the hardened mischief-makers and their cohorts- no matter how truthful is the clarification. May God protect and rescue us from the mischiefs of fake news instigators

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