By Douglas Anele
Ever since the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary captioned “Sex for Grades: Undercover inside Nigerian and Ghanaian universities” was released detailing how some university lecturers engaged in embarrassing amorous or sexual solicitations with reporters from the media outfit posing to be what they are not in a sting operation, both the conventional and social media have been inundated with all kinds of responses ranging from the reasonable to the completely unhinged and ridiculous.
For example, whereas authorities of the two universities under focus, the prestigious University of Lagos (popularly called Unilag) and University of Ghana, reacted in a measured manner, some people have completely blown the matter out of proportion as if our universities are populated by male lecturers moving around with erect penises looking for female students to have sex with. Even the church where one of the lecturers was a Pastor reacted swiftly and pharisaically by totally disowning him, instead of emulating the virtue of empathy and forgiveness exemplified by the story in John 8:3-11. Now, before evaluating these responses, it would be useful to present a brief summary of the exposé carried out by the BBC Africa Eye project in order to provide some context for our analysis. Four video clips are of critical importance here.
The first one is a recording of Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, an Associate Professor of French language at the prestigious University of Lagos who was engaged in a dialogue with Kemi, an investigative journalist posing as an admission seeker into the university. Dr. Igbeneghu’s case seems more disconcerting because as a “man of God” he was expected to overcome temptation more easily than ordinary people. The second one focuses on Dr. Paul Kwame Butako of the College of Education, University of Ghana.
Then there is the case of Dr. Samuel Oladipo of Economics Department, Unilag and, finally, Prof. Ransford Gyampo from the same university as Butako. Shorn of unnecessary details, what all the episodes in the footages have in common is that the four lecturers were willing to assist the ladies further their academic and professional careers on condition that the latter agree to have sex or engage in an amative relationship with them. In the videos that have since gone viral, the four men gave clear hint or indication that they would be willing to use their positions to help the girls in a manner that appears to contravene extant rules and regulations in the two universities where they worked.
Moreover, most of what they said is inaccurate and misguided. For example, on the issue of a girl getting admission into highly competitive tertiary institutions like the University of Lagos, the reality is that less than ten percent of admission requests from lecturers are successful given that the admission criteria leave very little room for discretionary admission. In other words, most lecturers who claim to have the capacity to help candidates get admitted into first-rate universities actually cannot deliver. On the issue of sex for good grades, most people who do not know how the system works tend to make mountains out of molehills. Now, the final grade for each student at the end of each semester, session or at graduation is a function of the cumulative grade point average (CGPA) derived from various courses taught by different lecturers.
Except in a rare case where a small clique of deviant lecturers work in concert or you scratch my back I scratch yours basis, it is simply difficult for one lecturer to award marks to an academically weak female student in such a manner that would catapult her from pass or third class into first class or second class (upper division).
Any girl that believes a lecturer who claims he can do that is stupid. In fact, at the University of Lagos presently, it is virtually impossible for a single lecturer to influence dramatically the final result of any student because the system put in place is almost completely automated and the results go through various stages of vetting before approval by the Senate. Of course, no system is perfect; but over the years, the university’s management has been implementing measures to strengthen and sustain the integrity of results submitted by lecturers. Often neglected is the fact that some girls after sleeping with lecturers still fail as they should based on their actual performance both in the continuous assessment and examinations. Such girls probably collected money or gift from the lecturers concerned or because the lecturers simply decided to be objective in grading the scripts. A sensible female student who realises that a particular lecturer would not give her free marks after sleeping with him has no choice but to work hard and pass his courses instead of relying on sex. Surely, everyone who really cares about quality education would condemn trade by barter involving sex and grades. But how many of them would condemn a lecturer who, in order to teach an unserious female student that sex-for-grades does not work with every male lecturer, refuses to compromise with grades after having sex with her?
Another point is that although the lecturers involved in the documentary made cavalier hyperbolic statements in order to impress the girls, Dr. Igbeneghu’s comments about Cold Room experience and what lecturers do with female students in the Cold Room in the Senior Staff Club, University of Lagos, are misleading. The Senior Staff Club is a recreational facility where senior staff of the university and associate members from outside come to eat, drink and socialise. It was set up as a convenient meeting-point for patrons and their guests to relax and dissipate the tension or stress that builds up after several hours of hard work. On the other hand, Dr. Igbeneghu’s reference to the Cold Room is a misnomer: the room is called Cool Room by members because for a long time it was the only part of the Staff Club that was fully air-conditioned, but presently the main sitting area is completely air-conditioned as well). The Cool Room is a functions room where small gatherings like birthday parties, seminars, and meetings are held. It is definitely not set up for salacious behaviour or misconduct. That the place might have been misused occasionally does not justify the silly sneering remarks by a bunch of knuckleheads in the media.
Clearly, Dr. Igbeneghu and others ought to have realised the inherent dangers of using their academic status to create the wrong impression about university teachers in general, and of saying certain embarrassing things to ladies who they just met or knew very little about. In my view, it is naïve and ill-advised for a lecturer to seem to justify sex-for-grades before such a girl, offer repeatedly to be her side guy, insist on hugging or kissing her, or expect her to consider seriously any marriage proposal after so short a time. But then, sentiments aside, inasmuch as some girls are so beautiful and sexy that most healthy men would want close body contact and intimacy with them immediately or as soon as possible (none of the girls in the videos is that good looking anyway) it is definitely ungentlemanly and unwise to pressurise an unwilling girl who is not your close friend to kiss or have body contact with you, someone you have not spent a lot of time with to understand the kind of person she might be, asking her awkward questions about her sex life, and presenting the image of lecturers as lecherous sex predators lacking self-control in the presence of female students. Aside from all this, the strategy the lecturers used in trying to get the ladies do what they wanted is inappropriate: they made it seem as if the only reason they wanted to help is sexual gratification. Of course, sexual negotiation between two willing adults is acceptable, but there is no fits-all strategy or blueprint for winning the heart of a woman since human beings are remarkably different (and similar also). However, no self-respecting woman would really like a man to the extent of wanting to sleep with him if she thinks he is only interested in her as an outlet for his sexual desires.
Looking at the issue from another perspective, a significant number of the girls in our universities these days are not even worth the trouble of very close friendship or romantic affair because they are hypocritical runs girls or closet commercial sex workers probably from dysfunctional family backgrounds who do not understand what it takes to engage in a mutually satisfying and fulfilling amative relationship. Aside from low intellectual capacity, many female students are just repackaged overused bodies walking on two legs without substance inside. This is particularly germane for married lecturers who must think long and hard and put the interest of their families first before deciding to approach any other woman for relationship. I detest preaching; but I think it is in the interest of male lecturers, particularly the married ones, to weigh all possibilities before approaching any woman, student or non-student, for an affair.
The relevant questions they must ask themselves include: does she have the qualities I cherish in a woman? Am I financially capable of funding the relationship? How would the affair affect my family? How can I avoid serious sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy? If the affair becomes public, can I and my family handle the backlash and repercussions. To be concluded.