Now that the BBC has exposed an open secret: “sex for marks” in one of our Universities, we have all now gone into overdrive displaying our intolerance of the ugly practice and readiness to deal with perpetrators! What a people we are!
I have always maintained that a thief is the one caught in the act, or who the act can be traced to. Don’t be surprised that some of the people championing the eradication of this evil whether in panels set up or in legislative process to sanction erring lecturers were culprits or presently culprits in their various fields. I do not think there is any difference between sex for marks, sex for jobs or sex for any other type of privilege.
Sex for whatever favor is an act of taking advantage of the vulnerable and an abuse of office or privilege. All should be condemned by all. A lady once told me of how a lecturer withheld her result in an attempt to have sex with her. She sought the intervention of a middle-aged female University staff in the same department so that the randy lecturer could release her result without meeting his demand because she needed the result to meet up with the requirement of NYSC as the orientation camp was about to close; she got a shocker of her life when the lady irresponsibly told her to go ahead and give the lecturer what he demanded! That was shocking from a supposed mother! The lady even said the woman made it look like doing so was no big deal.
The above incident happened close to twenty years ago. So sex for marks has been around a long while now, and many are aware with little or nothing done to curb it; it most likely has got worse. It is good we have been jolted from our hypocrisy and cowardice induced complacency. It is time for decisive actions and not rhetoric: actions that will go beyond dealing with only sex for marks practitioners in our higher institutions; to also include dealing with ‘cash for marks’ folks. Also, dealing with manipulators in the sales of handouts and textbooks (lecturers do these before a student can pass their courses).
How do we guarantee the quality of our products from these various institutions of higher learning when the production line is laden with all these sharp practices? I am in total support of the efforts by the National Assembly to legislate against these evils. They should ensure that all avenues where lecturers exploit students are covered.
Moreover, we can consider setting up local special panel to look into petitions by students, teaching and non teaching staffs arising from related incidents. This panel should be made up of men of proven integrity from different groups in the school community including people from outside the school with integrity and good track record. This panel will deal with cases of abuse of office, privilege, extortion, attempted abuse/ extortion, seduction and bribery guided by clearly spelt out regulations from a national piece of legislation.
Apart from the local panels, zonal tribunals can be set up to address appeals from parties not satisfied with the local panel decisions. The zonal tribunals should take care of cases from schools in a particular catchment area. Members should be non members of any of the schools in the zone. They should be headed by retired judges with human right activists involved.
Both the local panels and zonal tribunals should be given far reaching powers to sanction including black listing and life ban.
False accusations when proven beyond doubt should also attract severe sanctions.
Sex for marks, cash for marks and all the related manipulations require drastic offensive from all of us to save our society from decay. When our higher education products are crooked, their output will be crooked and we will all suffer for it.