By Muyiwa Adetiba
Both the mainstream and social media have been full of condemnations—and rightly so— for the randy Professor who wanted to ‘knack’—forgive my vulgarity—a girl young enough to be his grand-daughter five times before he could raise her marks from 33 to 40 —a rough translation of one ‘round’ per mark with two bonus marks that would probably be contingent on ‘satisfactory performance.’ I shudder and develop goose pimples as I think of my two daughters and what they would have had to do to graduate had they studied in Nigeria and their cousins, my nieces, who actually studied here. How many ‘rounds’ did my nieces have to endure before they were allowed to graduate? Were they groped and defiled on the Professors’ well-worn couches or in some slimy, ‘short term’ rooms across the hostels? Did they barter the number of rounds like some cheap whore the way the girl in the audio did or bantered with their lecherous adversaries, again like the girl, to reduce the gravity of the transaction? (How can anyone reduce the gravity of the act?) How scarred—permanently or otherwise—are the likes of my nieces by their experiences in the hands of lecturers who take more than they give, by the university system which looks the other way, perhaps out of complicity and by the society which plays the ostrich only to complain about the quality of our graduates.
It is one thing to choose to date your lecturer or prefer a father figure as your lover—even here—the lecturers should exercise maturity and restraint and try to discourage the infatuation of youth. It is another thing to be compelled or blackmailed into doing it. The ripple effects go far beyond the one, two, or five rounds to the psyche of the victim, her future relationships, and the values of the society at large. We have all heard of stories of these randy Professors and their low moral values. But the lowest of the low was the story of a Professor who slept with—I refuse to use the word date—a young girl for two years and still failed her. His reason to his fellow conspirators was that she was ‘too sweet’ to be allowed to just go like that. And the callous, complicit old men, who must have daughters and daughters –in-law of their own, simply laughed.
I have heard comments from those who should know better, that many of the girls involved are willing victims because they are the ones who do not take their studies seriously and yet want to graduate. Some ‘beg’ for it by the way they dress and interact with lecturers. Even if true, this simply doesn’t tell the whole story. There are lecturers who, emboldened by the powers of their office, feel it is their duty to ‘rouse the fire’ within the most detached and introverted student, or humiliate someone they feel is arrogant or self-confident or ravish anyone whose beauty intoxicates them. In any case, it their duty as teachers to fail any student who refuses to study. It is the only way to maintain the standard and quality of their profession and institution. Sex for marks is at best, a form of bribe. At the worst, it is a form of blackmail; of rape. Both are crimes.
As indignant as we all are about the repugnant activities of our randy professors in our citadels of knowledge—these activities are more rampant in state and federal universities across the country than we think—there is a thread connecting them to the larger society. Those of us acting in self-righteous anger should reflect on the exchange between King David and Prophet Nathan in the Bible. Nathan told David of a rich man who had a large herd of cattle but chose to kill the only lamb of a poor man to entertain his guest. David was understandably angry and vowed that the rich man, whoever he is, must die. He was mortified when told he was that rich man. He had left his harem to pick the only wife of a poor soldier. So, as we point one accusing finger, three are pointing at us. The personnel manager who demands sex to shortlist desperate job applicants; the manager who demands sex to advance the career of his staff undeservedly; the chief executive who ‘samples’ every female staff at will; the procurement manager who uses sex for contracts; the governor who picks whoever tickles his fancy in the civil service; the policeman who sleeps with awaiting trial offenders; the ‘master’ who sleeps with the house maid; they, like King David and the randy Professors, have abused their positions. The common thread running through all of them is this sense of entitlement. They see females who work under them, who are dependent on them as fringe benefits. The feelings of those women are immaterial. The status of those women—young, old, single or married—is immaterial. The gradual erosion of their own values, self-worth and moral consciousness is immaterial. It is immaterial that they are violating an important law of decency and interpersonal relationships. Fortunately for them, we do not name and shame in Nigeria. And there is no due process that will lead to prosecution. So the sexual impunity continues, unabated, unrestrained.
What makes the case of our randy professors worse is that universities are supposed to be a beacon of light in a darkened world. They are supposed to push for a better society through research and knowledge. They are supposed to stand on a higher moral and intellectual ground. Ours have become a closed society of incest, licentiousness, corruption and debauchery. Professors are respected all over the world for their intellect, devotion to knowledge, and moral standing. He is at the acme of knowledge in his chosen field towering over other professionals. We have, by the quality and actions of these bad eggs, successfully dragged the word ‘Professor’ to the mud in Nigeria.
If anybody thinks anything is going to come out of the OAU tape, they are mistaken. Sexual licentiousness has eaten very deep into our university system. There is a story of a PhD student who was kept in school for 18 good years because she refused to have sex with her supervisor. Nothing happened to the supervisor even when the lady in question almost ran mad. It is not limited to students or sex for marks alone. Junior lecturers are being denied or rewarded by older professors depending on how they co-operate sexually. As I write, at least two sexual harassment cases are being swept under the carpet in UNILAG. It is a case of he who is without sin among the professors, let him cast the first stone. Sad.