For ages, sex has been used as a tool to influence outcomes, decisions or gain undue favour or advantage over others in high and low places in the society.
Both men and women can use sex as a bait to get what they desire or to achieve personal aggrandisement and some may get away with it, depending on the value of the society they are operating in.
Sex was even used in Bible by Delilah to seduce Samson to reveal the secret of his strength, which led him to be captured by his enemies and Kind David was lured by the beauty of Bathsheba and he committed the unthinkable – adultery and murder as “a King after God’s heart’’!
However, in Nigeria’s higher institutions, the phenomenon of Sex for Grades, has been on for decades as part of the “usual’’ on campuses and in recent years, the menace has dented the image of the country in the international community.
The popular case of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) that actually exposed the dastardly acts going on in the nation’s higher institutions perpetrated by a lot of randy and immoral lecturers including professors must be nipped in the bud.
The lecturer, Richard Akindele, who was at the centre of the first major scandal, was jailed for sexual harassment of a female student, Monica Osagie and was released after serving a two-year term, opened the Pandora box that the menace has become a cankerworm in the nation’s higher institutions.
The result of the scandals that rocked the nation brought even worst cases to the fore and forced the university communities, parents and government to find lasting solutions that will at least curb the menace to the barest minimum.
However some stakeholders are of the opinion that higher institutions should not in any way tolerate sex for grade as it has contributed in no small way to reducing the standard of education in the country.
According to Dr Olaitan Alloh, an Agribusiness Consultant, school authorities must show zero tolerance for ‘sex for marks’ relationship.
Alloh said the position must be emphatically articulated over and over again as a fundamental code of conduct and primary test of lecturers’ integrity.
He also suggested that students on entry into the school should also be made to understand that they should face their studies rather than looking for easy ways to pass their examinations.
“Don’t forget that many students are coming into the universities from the larger society. Many of them have been exposed to thinking that sexual relationship in whatever form is a normal way of life and a tool to progress in life.
“The females think it’s a compensation to offer, while the males think it’s a compensation to receive,’’ he said.
According to him, generally this menace is part of the fallouts of the decadence in our society at large.
Alloh stressed the need to amplify the consequences of violation and punish any lecturer found to be insisting on using sex for grades, saying way, the menace would be curbed.
“There should be a way to monitor lecturer and student relationship.
“Violations must be well and severely punished when established and counselling for students is very important, particularly on entry into the school.
“We need new orientation for people to think right and be upright in all dispositions. We all must be involved in fighting the menace with sincerity,’’ Alloh said.
Some educationists have put the blame of the moral decadence in the nation’s ivory towers majorly on mostly weak students who will always throw themselves on lecturers with the hope of passing their examinations.
For others, it is the lecturers that should take the blame as they are expected to be disciplined and with high moral ethics.
They are of the view that universities should focus more on individual perpetrators, rather than pay attention to institutions to tackling the unwholesome practice such as sexual harassment on campuses.
Prof. Peter Okebukola, the former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, recently caused controversy by asserting that academically weak students are to blame for the rash of sex-for-grades incidents at Nigerian universities.
In view of the assertion by Okebukola, some experts faulted his claim, saying lecturers should not take advantage of weak students and indulge in unethical and immoral conducts.
They say the increased rate of sexual harassment against women was as a result of stubborn and persistent attitudes and beliefs accruing over centuries and embedded in a variety of cultural institutions that deny systemic abuse of women.
Dr Kabiru Danladi, of the Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, said the menace of Sex for Grade “is not different from the general societal decay we see everywhere’’.
According to him, over the years, recruitment process in the universities and other tertiary institutions has been bastardised and many kinds of people are employed and entrusted with the responsibility of teaching in tertiary institutions.
“That’s the root of the problem. So you have people who have nothing to do with teaching in higher institutions being employed to teach; people who are morally weak and professionally poor and the result is what we see today.’’
Danladi agreed that academically weak students were likely to fall victims of sexual harassment.
“Mind you I didn’t say they lure lecturers but they are vulnerable. They go for free marks, promising `to do anything’ to get their carry overs cleared.
“Anyone doing this is putting himself or herself in a very disadvantaged position.
“I am aware of the problem; in fact I was shocked by media reports recently on what is happening, especially regarding relationship between lecturers and their students.
“The problem of this “sex for grade” you only read it in social media or conventional media. University authorities cannot act based on hearsay or claim, unless a formal complaint is lodged.
“Those affected should be courageous enough to lodge complaint with evidence, ‘’ Danladi.
In the light of the failure of higher learning institutions to effectively handle rape and sexual abuses, in spite of the OAU saga, others surfaced not long after because the menace has become endemic in the system.
It would be recalled that a female student of the University of Abuja had in July 2019, alleged that a professor in the Department of Agriculture of the university allegedly demanded sex in order to give her marks.
The lecturer had earlier been issued a query after he was caught pants down during a sting operation by policemen of the Gwarinpa police station.
This eventually led to the dismissal of two professors of the university over alleged inappropriate relationships with some female students of the school.
In view of the above, the pertinent question to ask is, are the authorities in higher institutions doing enough to reduce the menace?
For Mr Louis Eriomala, the former Acting Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), the higher institutions are not doing enough to tackle the problem.
“No, they are not doing enough. They can and should do more than they are doing.
“ And it’s a matter demand and supply. The randy lecturer and the willing lazy female student; both are guilty.
“However, there are situations where the lazy female student lures an unwilling lecturer.
“There are also the cases where a randy lecturer lures an unwilling lazy female student. In these cases, the person making the offer is guilty,’’ he said.
Eriomala said the issue of sex for marks could be attributed to randy lecturers and lazy female students both willing to trade sex for marks.
According to him, this has become prevalent because Nigeria places more emphasis on certificates rather than what you know!
“When employment is based on individual’s ability, all these will stop!’’
He agrees female students lure lecturers because they are weak academically, saying “it’s true in some cases but there are cases where lecturers demand for sex directly or indirectly from students as condition for passing.’’
So many cases have been exposed, which had further ridiculed the Nigerian educational system questioning the veracity students’ certificates.
However, the Federation of Women Lawyers, Kaduna State chapter, urged female victims of sexual abuse in universities and other tertiary institutions to speak out in order to put a stop to the ugly trend.
The association assured that it would give legal cover to victims and ensure that lecturers’ sexually exploiting and molesting students were prosecuted and jailed.
“It’s time for victims to name such lecturers and others in the system,” chairperson of FIDA in the state.
“Our call is for all students who have this kind of problem to speak out. If they don’t speak out, we won’t be able to know what is happening for us to even come in to intervene on their behalf.
“We as FIDA, our primary responsibility are protection, preservation and promotions of rights of women and children where issue of sexual harassment occurs.
“If it is not brought to our notice, there is no way we will know and for us to come out and carry out our function,” Mrs Zainab Atoba said.
According to Atoba, the issue of sex for marks in higher institutions of learning is very disturbing and has been going on for a long time.
“We are vehemently in opposition to this kind of issue happening in all the higher institutions.
“Even in secondary schools we have incidences of teachers trying to sexually abuse students, to sleep with them so as pass exams.
“It has been happening for a very long time, we are happy that students are now coming out to mention it to the hearing of everybody.
“Before now, students are afraid to voice out what was happening to them. We have a case of a professor that is in prison now for rape of a student in his office.”
Are there solutions in sight to reduce menace that has become a cankerworm in the nation’s ivory tower to the barest minimum?
According to Alloh , addressing sex for grade is difficult because of human nature but the first thing to do is to strengthen disciplinary institutions in our universities where both students and lecturers will feel protected.
“Also recruitment process has to be reviewed to employ competent and highly morally upright people. This will encourage professional conduct in discharging their duty,’’ Alloh said.
For Danladi, he says his university does not tolerate indiscipline of whatever kind.
“And the university has a system in place from the departmental level up to central administration to address issues of professional misconduct.
“Whoever found to have an allegation of misconduct will definitely face disciplinary committee and if found guilty, appropriate disciplinary measures are taken against them. ‘’
Some women groups also call on the ladies to speak when they are harassed by their lecturers to quickly arrest the situation before it gets out of hand.
To effectively addressed the scourge, strong monitoring team should be put in place in the country’s higher institutions for continuous monitoring and checking of the activities of both students and lecturers.
Also, lecturers and students relationships, if they are not related by family line, should be discouraged to curb the Sex for Grades syndromes in the society.
Governments at all levels should be strict on punishment of offenders through prosecutions and ensure that the case to taken to the conclusion and they should serve their terms in jail, without any favoritism of any kind.
All these will ensure that both the wrong lecturers and weak students do no find their ways to the country’s higher institutions, which will go a long way to improving educational standards in the country and will improve the image of the country among the comity of nations.