Over the past several years we have tried to shed light on one of the most critical social vices that has eaten deep into our school system without as much as any effort by the authorities to tame it. Unfortunately we are all victims of these predators who hibernate in our school system and appear untouchable. In our university system, in spite of the simple nature of the environment is a deep culture of silence, conspiracy and crime. These things are done in plain sight that virtually everyone knows and everyone simply keep quiet. It is so bad that nobody is ready to bell the cat; people are in a hurry to move on. It is a decayed society, little wonder things turn out the way we see them.
A week ago the BBC published a video documentary. In it was a well known activity that is prevalent in our schools. The 13-minute documentary (later the 53-minute full version was published) showed a certain Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu sexually molesting a purported 17-year-old admission seeker. Little did he know that it was an undercover work which had him on record! The man even boasted of his pastoral work and got the young later to help with bible passages as he prepared for a homily. He equally prayed with the admission seeker and told her emphatically that she had no problem with regards to her request. But that is if she is ready to be his sex partner.
The level of decadence in our schools is mind boggling. If it is not sexual exploitation, it will be monetary extortion. There are threats left, right and centre. Students indeed do fail their examinations if they fail to fulfill the predatory instincts of their lecturers. It is a full-time blackmail that you have to be very strong in character not to succumb. They threaten you with violence, examination or test failure and constant if not deliberate taunting. These lecturers gang up with their colleagues to ensure that their target is subjected to hell in the school. Even when you report to the authorities, the authorities are never there to deal with the issue rather it is always to protect their man.
The video is distasteful. This is why schools and their moral fabric are in tartars. People have argued however that what happened with the video is unethical because it was pre-arranged by BBC. They say in a different scenario perhaps Igbeneghu would have behaved differently. They point to the Ghana situation where the lecturer at University of Ghana, Legon has threatened a law suit. Igbeneghu has equally treated his supporters with the same theatrics. The other one Dr. Oladipo of the “cold room” fame has yet to speak up. Well, the intension is clear. What the BBC did was to expose a culture of bad behaviour by those charged with the responsibility of moulding our country’s future. If you do your duty because of sex, what else will you do if something else is offered?
For an associate professor and a former sub dean to be that careless and unprofessional in the presence of a 17-year-old is preposterous. The expose therefore of the senior staff club where a room is reserved for inappropriate liaison with students is completely nonsensical. The club is a no-go area for students, yet somehow students are allowed simply to satisfy the sexual proclivities of their lecturers. This is symptomatic of our everyday living. We break the law ourselves and demand good behaviour from others. Lecturers are in perpetual complaint about politicians who pay them their salaries by the way. Yet they cannot obey the least of their own codes. They easily lash out at government but cannot follow the rules they made for themselves. It is indeed troubling.
It is reassuring all the same that the church where Igbeneghu pastors has suspended him. The University of Lagos where he and Oladipo work has suspended them. A committee has been set up led by Prof Ayo Atsenuwa to try the two offenders. We hope that those men will be pulled out of the system. Last year this is how another pastor and professor was disgraced at the Obafemi Awolowo University because of similar activity. He is in jail now. We hope Nigerian lecturers even from secondary school will understand that while they have a right to have relationships with women, it should never have anything to do with selling grades or admission for sex. Those girls are people’s children too.