To our wicked lecturers

Not all of them, but some lecturers (at our universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education) are terribly wicked, unforgiving and heartless. One of them recently bared his deadly fangs at the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki. And after he was done, a student, Favour Ugwuka, was no more. Ugwuka took her life.

Yes, she committed suicide as a result of the mental torture she experienced at the hands of an English lecturer in the Ebonyi government-owned school. Well, this is the story’s headline: “Controversy surrounds Ebonyi varsity student’s death after failed exam,” as published by a national daily on Friday, May 24, 2024.

The story reads: “Controversy has surrounded the death of a final-year student of the Ebonyi State University Abakaliki, identified as Favour Ugwuka, on Wednesday night. Our correspondent gathered that Ugwuka took her life in her hostel at the Ishieke Campus of the school in Abakaliki.

“Further investigations revealed that the deceased, a final year student in the Department of English, passed all her courses but repeatedly failed a particular course, whose lecturer was said to have vowed she would never pass. It was learnt that the late Ugwuka went into depression after several attempts to pass the said course and was frequently seen on the campus wandering alone until she decided to take her life on Wednesday night.

“In a video seen online by our correspondent, a woman said to be the deceased’s mother blamed a lecturer for making her daughter commit suicide. According to the woman, who was seen lamenting in the video, “The lecturer said he is the best, that nobody can teach like him. He should come and carry my daughter who has committed suicide.”

“Also, a graduate of the institution who identified himself as Rex Nwome claimed that the girl committed suicide because she had been failing a particular course repeatedly. He said, “Favour was my classmate and a best friend to me in the English Department. The above-mentioned lecturer did vow never to allow Favour to graduate.

“You could imagine where she later passed all the courses except that lecturer’s that, she had to pay another extra year tuition fee to rewrite. “Unfortunately the man failed her again. What resulted in this intense depression is the latest NYSC names that were recently shortlisted, and her name wasn’t there.”

“He added, “The girl suffered a lot of depression because she was only left wandering about the EBSU seeking help. She was very desperate to graduate and serve. This and many more of the disgusting stories resulted in this suicide mission”.

Is the lecturer responsible for Ugwuka’s unfortunate demise now happy that he caused the tragic death of one of his students? Is he now excited that Ugwuka had to end her life following the persecution she suffered in his hands?

Whatever Ugwuka did to (that) her diabolic and morally-bankrupt  lecturer, what she got in return was unjustifiable, barbaric and devilish. The failure to punish some crooked, brutal and God-forsaken teachers who victimize their students is responsible for the continuous attack on students by their academic mentors, in our universities, polytechnics and CoES.

Lecturers continue to demand sex for marks or receive bribes from their students because only a handful of them have been sanctioned. I will highlight a few instances where some Ivory Towers in the country wielded their big sticks on randy lecturers.

Last month, the management of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, suspended a lecturer identified as Mr. Mfonobong Udoudom, who was caught in a.viral video allegedly harassing a female student. The lecturer who was caught in a viral video wearing a pair of boxers is said to be a lecturer in the General Studies division of the university.

In August 2023, the management of the University of Calabar, UNICAL, also suspended the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Cyril Ndifon, over allegations of sexual harassment. Ndifon’s suspension followed a probe into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by some female students of the faculty.

A viral video on social media had shown the students of the faculty storming the office of the school’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Florence Obi, wielding placards with inscriptions such as, “Ndifon must go for our sanity,” “We are tired of buying law journals,” “We are tired of lecturers not attending classes,” and “Law girls are not your bonanza; Prof. Ndifon should stop grabbing us and others.”

Four years ago, authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state equally suspended another lecturer, Monday Omo-Etan, for alleged sexual assault on a 19-year-old female student.

It is worth noting that in 2018, the immediate-past Vice Chancellor of OAU, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, indefinitely suspended a lecturer of the Department of Management and Accounting, Prof. Richard Akindele.

The suspension followed a leaked audio conversation between the lecturer and a student. In the discussion, the Professor was demanding to have sex with the student five times before he would upgrade her mark from 33 to a pass mark.

Then in October 2019, the University of Lagos, UNILAG, suspended Samuel Oladipo, a lecturer in the department of economics, over the sex-for-grades scandal which rocked the institution. Oladipo was featured in a documentary on sexual assault released by the BBC Africa Eye.

The school management had earlier suspended Boniface Igbeneghu, a lecturer and former sub-dean of the faculty of arts in the institution, who was also exposed in the BBC documentary. Igbeneghu was caught sexually harassing an undercover journalist who posed as an admission seeker.

Sometime in December 2021, the management Kwara State University, KWASU, sacked one of its lecturers identified as Pelumi Adewale, who threatened to fail a female undergraduate for denying him sex. Adewale was relieved of his duties for alleged sexual harassment of one Tosin Adegunsoye, a student of the department of Pure and Applied Sciences of the school.

While the authorities of OAU, UNN, UNILAG, KWASU and UNICAL should be commended for actually displaying zero tolerance for sexual assaults on their students, the menace is far from being curbed totally. Thousands of our female undergraduates (in particular) are – as I write now – paying heavily for rejecting the sexual overtures of their debauched lecturers, with no one coming to their rescue.

Relevant authorities must take concrete steps to effectively address this issue. Teachers and lecturers should not be taking their pound of flesh on innocent students. Regulations should be developed on the manner that lecturers and students should relate harmoniously. It should no longer be business as usual.

Lecturers who are notorious for assaulting students, through all vicious means, should not escape their school authorities’ sanctions. Meanwhile, it is necessary for Ugwuka’s parents not to let this slide. They should take legal action against the lecturer responsible for their daughter’s loss and ensure he is prosecuted.

That is the only way to send a big message to other wicked lecturers, whose misdemeanours are denting the reputation of Nigerian academics generally. Consequences must follow any rash, bizarre and thoughtless action we take, as individuals. It is high time!

Mahmud, Deputy Editor of PRNigeria, writes via [email protected].