Nigeria is in trouble but we do not know. Or, we pretend not to know it, which is even worse. Ignorance could conceal a state of gradual depreciation but when the fatal blow hits like thunder in the night, sufferers could get excused for reveling in the soothing state of innocence. But it is difficult to pardon people who ignore obvious signs of doom when the house finally crashes on them as it is bound to.
Nigeria’s denial of her overall ill-health is like the child who gets several strokes of the cane but goes about denying that the event ever occurred. When the aggregation of pain comes upon him at night, no one but him will require heavy doses of analgesics and bear the brunt of failure to pay timely attention. Nigeria’s Rome is on fire but its Neros are fiddling away!
The audio recording of a conversation between a certain randy academic and his female student allegedly at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife is an instance of the level of the ethical deficit we suffer and that the country has continued to fail to attend to.
The thrust of the conversation, which went viral at the instance of the student-victim, is that the young lady had failed a course taught by the Professor in question and that the latter was demanding some sessions of exclusive intimacy as a consideration for a possible re-evaluation of the student’s performance.
Of course, reactions poured with typical Nigerian anger. With customary righteous indignation, Nigerians took the accused to the cross and hung him without the advantage of any doubt. A photograph said to be his image has circulated on the social media unbridled, even while his employers have announced an investigation of the scandal.
There is a chance that the prejudicial assassination of the lecturer, alleged to have betrayed his duty of care, resulted from an understandable lack of confidence in the ability of our institutions to dispense justice without fear or favour, but it also exposes one of the most unfortunate traits of our people: hypocrisy.
It is curious, for example, that the event would surprise anyone who lives in this society. For years on end, lecturers have found easy preys in female students and taken advantage of them almost always without consequence.
For male students who are not endowed with the physiology that answers to the profligate sexual needs of these lecturers, compensation is demanded in assorted items ranging from cash to car tyres, clothes and so on.
Saturday Punch indeed published an expose which led to the sack of 12 lecturers at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi in 2016. Among so many other startling revelations, the report detailed how male students of the institution hired prostitutes or begged their girlfriends to sleep with lecturers in order to earn higher grades in their courses. It also narrated how some of the lecturers preferred to accept cash, ranging from N10,000 to N20,000, rather than sex to award grades, usually not above ‘C’ to male students!
This tells us that quite a number of those who graduate with very good degrees may indeed have purchased their results and that students, in connivance with unethical lecturers, engage in all sorts of misdeeds that diminish chances that our educational sector as it currently stands will deliver a qualitative future.
Now, not at any time after this expose did we record a national outrage about how tarnished higher education is becoming in Nigeria. Associations of academic staff of higher institutions, which would usually pick up fights over everything that concerns and does not concern their members, did not find any need to set up any self-regulatory machinery to discourage their members from digging their hands into dirt, neither has the Committee of Vice Chancellors, Provosts of Polytechnics or councils of higher institutions seen that the incubation of compromises in these institutions portends grave danger for the integrity of education and ultimately, national development. Government on its part has also not reached a point where the welfare of teachers from the basic to the tertiary level would become priority.
So, what happens? Talented people who should take up academic roles migrate to some countries where they get value for their talent or find lucrative opportunities in some other industry. The country is thereby left with no option than to recruit loads of people with second or third class aptitude and character into classrooms, resultantly submitting the future of its children into the hands of those who should ordinarily have no business teaching.
There has, in the same vein, not been any consensus amongst parents as to fighting for the preservation of the dignity of their children, nor has one heard of any congregation of students recommending conscientiousness to their peers. Everyone has moved on like it was a non-issue until the recent newsbreak.
There is another serious sense that every Nigerian seems to be playing the ostrich concerning the matter under discussion. At all levels of the country’s social stratum, there is a condoning of compromises, which has inadvertently massed in the rot that we have in our higher institutions.
For example, across the country, parents have colluded with teachers and some staffers of examination bodies to encourage special centres where school certificate examinations candidates get unimpeded help from examiners for a fee. I learnt recently that some parents have even taken this madness to the level of the First School Leaving Certificate Examination which takes places at the end of primary education.
So, from their very early ages, a lot of children have seen their parents and teachers cheat the system. They pass elementary examinations without the required toil. They grow up believing that everything good is attainable on a silver platter. They do not see any value in diligence and cannot understand the dignity inherent in labour. Nigeria has become a country where might is right, the younger ones have erroneously adopted this dictum, they would do anything to pass examinations, graduate through lies and gain promotion in a place of work by every deviousness possible. It is a society where only the fittest survive, where the weak is angry and where in spite of obsession with religion, righteousness has taken the back seat and love has died. Nigeria, take it or leave it has become a society against itself, one in near absolute anarchy.
One pertinent question about the alleged OAU tape is: Why would a student who has failed an examination simply not wait to retake the course? What brought up the negotiation for a review of grades in the first place? Nothing, obviously, than the fact that persuading an amenable teacher to accept a mess of pottage in lieu of honesty has become the norm.
Sadly, we are unable to establish the nexus between the collapse of ethics in our society and the various other levels of troubles that we face. Over the past few years, tens of thousands of Nigerians including helpless, innocent children have been murdered in cold blood. Some were slaughtered, some beheaded, some set ablaze, some shot dead with high calibre equipment which should not be found in the hands of criminals. Fathers now rape their children on a daily basis. We administer fatal extrajudicial sentences on our brothers and sisters with abandon, blood flows all over the land like water, while greed and selfishness abide in us, yet we all literally live in worship houses. This society has mortgaged its soul to the god of money and power. And the desire in all of us to become what we do not want to work for is killing this country gradually.