Finally, the new Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Charles Esimone, assumed duties last Monday, June 3, taking over from his predecessor, Prof Joseph Ahaneku.
But what was remarkable at the handing over ceremony was the assurance given by the new VC on his readiness to fight against prevalent vices in the institution. Chief among them is the vexed issue of sexual harassment/sorting.
Sorting is when lecturers demand financial gratifications from their students; while sex-for-marks is when lecturers demand to sleep with female students in order to pass them.
Speaking shortly after receiving the baton from his predecessor, Prof. Esimone had read a riot act to randy lecturers, charging them to rather see students as their clients and shun all forms of oppressive actions against them as such would not be tolerated.
He warned that non-productive staff of the university would be declared redundant if they failed to improve, calling on the staff of the university to sit up as his administration would not condone untoward practices such as plagiarism, sexual harassment and inducement.
Speaking further, he assured that the Quality Assurance Unit of the institution would be strengthened to monitor the quality of what the students were taught and the attitude of lecturers toward the students, while students would also be required to give feedbacks on every lecturer at the end of every semester.
These are reassuring words indeed. We are very much concerned with the harm being caused to education by the sex-for-marks/sorting syndrome. We are concerned that not much has been done by institutions of higher learning to deal with this vexed issue.
There is no doubting the fact that the kid-glove treatment being given to this issue has exacerbated it to the extent that some lecturers now openly tell students that they will fail if they do not play ball; and the troubling thing is that they go on to carry out their threat.
In one of the recent editions of this paper, this issue was treated copiously and the new UNIZIK VC was specifically enjoined to look into this issue, being a new man that is expected to be fired by a zeal to perform. We charged him to strive to make the difference and really lay down a marker so that those involved in this nefarious act will stop it.
Esimone's first words on assuming office are encouraging as far as fighting this scourge on our campuses is concerned. We are very pleased and hope that it will not just be one of those promises public officers make on taking up a new job.
We urge him to match his words with commensurate action and deal seriously with those involved in this anomaly in such a manner that other Vice Chancellors in other institutions will be encouraged to key into.
We are ready to support him in any way we can to prosecute this war. Students who are sent to school by their parents are expected to study in peace, unharassed and unvictimized, least of all, by their lecturers who are expected to act like their second parents.
As we welcome the new VC, we pray that his coming will herald a new era in scholarship. We congratulate him on his appointment.