Thursday, September 16, 2021

Sex for grades: Cankerworm eating Nigerian institutions deep

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By Grace Yussuf

For ages, sex has been used as a tool to influence outcomes, decisions or gain undue favour or advantage over others in high and low places.

Both men and women can use sex as a bait, to get what they desire or to achieve personal aggrandisement.

They may get away with it, depending on the value of the society.

Sex was used in the Bible by Delilah to seduce Samson to reveal the secret of his strength, while King David was lured by the beauty of Bathsheba and he committed the unthinkable.

However, in Nigeria’s higher institutions, the phenomenon of sex for grades, has been on for decades as part of the “usual’’ on campuses.

But in recent years, the menace assumed alarming dimension and a big dent on the image of the country in the international community.

The popular case at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) exposed the dastardly acts going on in the nation’s higher institutions perpetrated by randy lecturers.

The lecturer, Richard Akindele, who was at the centre of the first major scandal, served two years jail term for sexual harassment of a female student, Monica Osagie.

The case opened pandora box of the menace going on in the nation’s higher institutions.

However, stakeholders decried the menace, and stressed that higher institutions should not in any way tolerate sex for grades,

They also said that it has contributed in no small way to the falling standard of education in the country.

According to Dr Olaitan Alloh, an Agribusiness Consultant,   school authorities must show zero tolerance for ‘sex for marks’ relationship.

He suggested that students on entry into the school should also be made to understand that they should face their studies rather than looking for easy ways to pass their examinations.

“Don’t forget that many students are coming into the universities from the larger society. Many of them have been exposed to thinking that sexual relationship in whatever form is a normal way of life and a tool to progress in life.

“The females think it’s a compensation to offer, while the males think it’s a compensation to receive,’’ he said.

According to him, generally this menace is part of the fallouts of the decadence in our society at large.

Alloh stressed the need to amplify the consequences of violation and punish any lecturer found to be insisting on using sex for grades.

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“There should be a way to monitor lecturer and student relationship.

“Violations must be well and severely punished when established and counselling for students is very important, particularly on entry into the school.

“We need new orientation for people to think right and be upright in all dispositions. We all must be involved in fighting the menace with sincerity,’’ Alloh said.

Some educationists have put the blame on weak students, who will always throw themselves on lecturers with the hope of passing their examinations.

For others, it is the lecturers that should take the blame as they are expected to be disciplined and with high moral ethics.

Prof. Peter Okebukola, the former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, recently caused controversy by asserting that academically weak students are to blame for the sex-for-grades incidents in Nigerian universities.

However, some experts faulted Okebukola’s  assertion, saying that  lecturers should not take advantage of weak students and indulge in unethical and immoral conducts.

Dr Kabiru Danladi, of the Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, said the menace of sex for grade “is not different from the general societal decay we see everywhere.’’

According to him, over the years, recruitment process in the universities and other tertiary institutions has been bastardised and all kinds of people are employed and entrusted with the responsibility of teaching in tertiary institutions.

“That’s the root of the problem. So you have people who have nothing to do with teaching in higher institutions being employed to teach; people who are morally weak and professionally poor and the result is what we see today.’’

Danladi agreed that academically weak students were likely to fall victims of sexual harassment.

“Mind you, I didn’t say they lure lecturers, but they are vulnerable. They go for free marks, promising `to do anything’ to get their carry overs cleared.

“Anyone doing this is putting himself or herself in a very disadvantaged position.

“I am aware of the problem; in fact, I was shocked by media reports recently on what is happening, especially regarding relationship between lecturers and their students.

“The problem of this sex for grade, you only read it in social media or conventional media. University authorities cannot act based on hearsay or claim, unless a formal complaint is lodged.

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“Those affected should be courageous enough to lodge complaint with evidence, ‘’ Danladi said.

In spite of punishments meted out to perpetrators of sex for grades, the menace continued to be on the increase, an indication that enough measures are not put in place to curb it.

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Mr Louis Eriomala, the former Acting Executive Secretary, Nigerian Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), echoed that higher institutions are not doing enough to tackle the problem.

“No, they are not doing enough. They can and should do more than they are doing.

“ And it’s a matter of  demand and supply. The randy lecturer and the willing lazy female student; both are guilty.

“However, there are situations where the lazy female student lures an unwilling lecturer.

“There are also cases where a randy lecturer lures an unwilling lazy female student. In these cases, the person making the offer is guilty,’’ he said.

Eriomala said the issue of sex for marks could be attributed to randy lecturers and lazy female students, both willing to trade sex for marks.

According to him, this has become prevalent because Nigeria places more emphasis on certificates rather than what you know!

“When employment is based on individual’s ability, all these will stop!’’

He agrees that weak female students lure lecturers because they are weak academically, saying “it’s true in some cases, but there are cases where lecturers demand for sex directly or indirectly from students as condition for passing them.’’

The International Federation of Women Lawyers, Kaduna State chapter, on its part, urged female victims of sexual abuse in tertiary institutions to speak out in order to put a stop to the ugly trend.

The association assured that it would give legal cover to victims and ensure that lecturers’ sexually exploiting and molesting students were prosecuted.

“It’s time for victims to name such lecturers and others in the system,” Mrs Zainab Atoba, Chairperson of FIDA in the state said.

“Our call is for all students who have this kind of problem to speak out. If they don’t speak out, we won’t be able to know what is happening for us to even come in to intervene on their behalf.

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“We as FIDA, our primary responsibility are protection, preservation and promotions of rights of women and children where issue of sexual harassment occurs.

“If it is not brought to our notice, there is no way we will know, to enable us to come out and carry out our function,”  Atoba said.

According to Atoba, the issue of sex for marks in higher institutions of learning is very disturbing and has been going on for a long time.

“We are vehemently in opposition to this kind of issue happening in all the higher institutions.

“Even in secondary schools, we have incidences of teachers trying to sexually abuse students, to sleep with them so as to pass them in their exams.

“It has been happening for a very long time, we are happy that students are now coming out to mention it to the hearing of everybody.

“Before now, students are afraid to voice out what was happening to them. We have a case of a professor that is in prison now for rape of a student in his office.”

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Are there solutions in sight to reduce the menace that has become a cankerworm in the nation’s ivory tower to the barest minimum?

According to Alloh, addressing sex for grade is difficult because of human nature, but the first thing to do is to strengthen disciplinary institutions in our universities, where both students and lecturers will feel protected.

“Also recruitment process has to be reviewed to employ competent and highly morally upright people. This will encourage professional conduct in discharging their duties,’’ Alloh said.

For Danladi, he says ABU does not tolerate indiscipline of whatever kind.

“And the university has a system in place from the departmental level up to central administration to address issues of professional misconduct.

“Whoever is accused of misconduct will definitely face disciplinary committee and if found guilty, appropriate disciplinary measures are taken against him.

Stakeholders suggest that to effectively tackle the scourge, strong monitoring team should be put in place in the country’s higher institutions for continuous monitoring of the activities of both students and lecturers.

They also said that very close lecturers/ students relationships, should be discouraged to curb the menace of sex for grades cases in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.

NANFeatures

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