This week, the Tell interviewers engage in a digital dialogue with Haleem Olatunji, a multiple award winning campus journalist and graduate of education management from the University of Ibadan. This young man has played a major role in campus journalism and perhaps deserves to be given the title “Journal is him”.
Below are the conversations the interview team had with him.
Tell interviewers: The name Haleem Olatunji is one which has dominated campus journalism in the University of Ibadan, but who is Haleem Olatunji?
Haleem Olatunji: Haleem Olatunji is actually who he is. He is a man who does things for the sake of adding value, having fun and keeping things real. Most importantly, he is someone who will never settle for less as he always aspire to get better at whatever he does.
Tell interviewers: Your level of campus journalism has been one which has inspired many. Since when have you been involved in Journalism?
Haleem Olatunji: It all started while I was in secondary school, when I was in SS2/3. I was the Vice President of Queenmaris College Press Club. But when I got to the University of Ibadan, I joined Mellanby Hall Press Organisation while I was in 100 level. Since then, I have been actively involved. Most especially in my third and final year.
Tell interviewers: Your form of writing and journalism has been one which has been praised for its sternness and straightforwardness. What motivates/inspires you to write this way?
Haleem Olatunji: Personally, I am a straight forward person, except in special cases when I need to bend the rules. So since I want everyone who reads what I have written to have a clear understanding of what I am talking about, I see no need to bit around the bush. So I make it straight and direct. Or probably because I am not so good when compared to some other journalists when it comes to using figurative expressions. So I use what works for me best, which is to be as direct and clear as possible.
Tell interviewers: To what extent do you think your writings/journalism have influenced University of Ibadan, as regards its students, policies and politics?
Haleem Olatunji: I actually can’t say because it won’t be easy to measure. But since most of my writings on campus were basically on the University of Ibadan and it’s components, I think for some people to have followed the articles, it must have had some kind of influence on them. Moreover, feeding people with news alone has influenced their level of cognition. So in one way or the other, the students and the institution at large have benefited.
Tell interviewers: You are currently looked up to as a role model in terms of campus journalism @ the University Of Ibadan…who are your role models?
Haleem Olatunji: I actually don’t have a role model. Because I don’t aspire to be like someone simply because we all have different styles and areas of strength. However, there are people who I admire for their passion and focus, those who advised me in certain regard, and those I learnt a couple of things from. The likes of Gbenga Adeoba, Oredola Ibrahim and Kunle Adebajo. Also, Kanyinsola Olorunisola.
Tell interviewers: How many awards have you received due to your efforts in journalism?
Haleem Olatunji: The total number is around 9 or 10.
Tell interviewers: Amazing!…Do you mind listing some of them?
Haleem Olatunji: Winner, UCJUI Award for Best Investigative Report (2017); Winner, UCJUI Award for Best Column of the Year (2017); Winner, Sheriff Folarin Presidential Award for Best Campus Journalist, University of Ibadan (2017); Winner, JCI UI Fifteen Most Outstanding Persons Award for the category of Most Outstanding Person Campus Journalism (2017); Winner, Kenneth Mellanby Hall Pressman of the Year (2017), among others.
Tell interviewers: Wow!…based on your numerous awards and already established reputation….do you consider journalism as a future career path?
Haleem Olatunji: I consider it as one of my available alternatives.
Tell interviewers: What other alternatives are you considering?
Haleem Olatunji: Academic, and maybe something administrative or business like.
Tell interviewers: What were some of the challenges you faced as a campus journalist?
Haleem Olatunji: One is time, as students we have academic works to deal with. So at times, I experience clashing of duties. Another is the rampant SDC threat. Then, poor access to mainstream media to further push some stories.
Tell interviewers: Aside Campus journalism, what other activities did you engage in as a student?
Haleem Olatunji: I did a bit little of public speaking, I was also a member of ANUNSA and Lumen Society. And on a lighter note, I also used to do what I titled “Sir Limo Show” on my departmental group (a question and answer section on issues around). Although I stopped doing it at a point.
Tell interviewers: What does it feel like to be a fresh graduate from the Premiere University?
Haleem Olatunji: I tell you, it’s nothing spectacular. While I was in the system I used to see it as a big deal, but now, it’s more of a call for greater responsibility. But then, I can say it is a good feeling when you remember the stress involved in going to classes, doing assignments, reading and reading and reading academic works.
Tell interviewers: A column you once worked on, Chronicles of consciousness(COC) was one which gathered alot of readership and massive following. What inspired you to take up this column and to whom are you bequeathing the column to?
Haleem Olatunji: Firstly, I wasn’t comfortable with the deteriorating state of columns in the University of Ibadan. While I was a freshman, there were several active and relevant columns I enjoyed reading. So I wasn’t pleased to see that Courtroom was only recognized column, so I decided to revive the COC to break the monopoly. Second, I felt there were several things which Uites ought to know about, but for which they are ignorant. So I thought of using the column to raise their level of consciousness. I have handed the COC over to Mr. Chidera Anunshiem. He is a great man with a lot of potentials. I see him doing better than me.
Tell interviewers: Owing to the fact the ilk of yourself, ‘Kunle Adebajo, Kayinsola Olorunisola, Ajayi Iyinoluwa, Awosope, Alao Abiodun are graduating, what is the hope of Campus Journalism in the University?
Haleem Olatunji: I am confident that campus journalism in the University of Ibadan will continue to thrive. The Union is blessed with a great President and wonderful Vice Presidents, among other executives. We also have the likes of Yusuf Akinpelu, Martins Isaac, Ayeku Kehinde, Adeyemi Aleshiloye, among others, who I believe so much in.
Tell interviewers: Final words for the youths?
Haleem Olatunji: To the youth, I feel we have a lot to do if we really want to change the state of our nation. However, we can start one step at a time by adding value in every little way we can. We shouldn’t give up the hope for a better Nigeria, but we shouldn’t just hope, we should also act. For change isn’t a function of hope, but a function of actions.