When the public thought that the authorities of the Obafami Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, was going to prevaricate over taking appropriate measures against one of its own over a shameful sex for marks scandal that rocked the institution several weeks ago, it came out pointedly without mincing words to put the matter to rest. As a result, the institution brought to a closure the scandal involving one of its lecturers, Prof. Richard Akindele and a female student, Miss Monica Osagie. Akindele was caught on audiotape soliciting for rounds of sex from Osagie to upgrade her scores.
As rampant as cases of sexual solicitation is assumed to be in our tertiary institutions, restitution has been scarce in coming. Often, these matters are swept under the carpet because of how the schools are structured to favour lecturers against students. Besides, students will normally find it difficult to follow up on scandals because of societal pressure and institutional biases, among others. Thus this case brought to the front burner of national discourse the sordid issue of sexual harassment and exploitation prevalent in the nation’s universities and other higher institutions. Such moral decadence also occurs in other sectors and work places in the country.
Commendably, after a thorough investigation, Richard Akindele, a professor of Accounting and Management was found guilty of (illegally) soliciting sex from his student and was accordingly dismissed from the services of the university by the University Council. We commend the OAU for swiftly handling the Akindele matter without allowing it to drag on indefinitely. Let other universities emulate the shining example of OAU in handling such matters in their domains.
We strongly believe that allowing justice to prevail in such matters of sexual abuses would serve as deterrent to other randy lecturers in our varsities and other higher institutions. There is a minimum level of moral and ethical conduct below which lecturers must not fall in our higher institutions.
It is critical for female students in tertiary institutions or in fact any institution must be protected from lecturers that are obsessed with sex; more critically, lecturers and administrators that use their position to debase the sanctity of learning and reward. Using sex to award marks is the most unkind thing a society can tolerate. It kills morals, but that’s just the beginning. It kills hardwork and encourages corruption. It dumps merit in the dust bin of infamy.
Therefore, let every higher institution in the country come up with adequate measures to expose and punish lecturers who are more interested in sex than inculcating knowledge and moral principles in their students.
In the same vein, female students that lure lecturers into sexual temptations and immorality should desist from such debased acts and concentrate on their studies. In fact, schools should equally punish students who indulge in this. What constitutes student harassment of lecturer should be clearly defined so that it will not be abused by the authorities. Universities are established to inculcate knowledge as well as morals in their students. Therefore taking advantage of the female students as some lecturers are doing is against the overall aim of a university education.
The society should be saved from morally depraved lecturers before more harm is done to the psyche of the female students. Aspiring lecturers should be people with the requisite knowledge as well as high moral codes. Sexual harassment, in our view, is a grievous offence of which we do not think the extant laws are enough to prevent. This is why we think that the sack of the randy lecturer is not an adequate deterrent for the offence. Further steps should be taken to prosecute him. The sexual harassment of students represents the height of personal indiscretion and an antithesis of the good moral conduct expected of people in such privileged positions as lecturers. Our society must frown at the depraved conduct and give the culprit adequate punishment.
However, we are not saying that lecturers cannot have sexual relationship with their students. We insist that such relationship must be consensual and must be with a student of 18 years or above.
Such a relationship must have nothing to do with marks. Nevertheless, people like Akindele who engage in such immoral sexual practices would learn some lessons and desist from such conducts. We empathise with Osagie, the victim of Akindele’s indiscretion for the public exposure this unwarranted incident may have brought her and the psychological and emotional traumas she may have passed through while the saga lasted. We commend her courage to expose Prof. Akindele. Prof. Akindele was the victim of his own greedy appetite.