Still on Matters Arising

…..Nekede Poly Graduate Saga and Quality of our Education System

By Jude Atupulazi

Not a few people were shocked, horrified and left fuming after a video clip of a young woman claiming to have just graduated from Nekede Polytechnic in Imo State, flooded the social media space some days ago. The woman in question videoed herself within the school premises gloating for finally graduating from the school.

But beyond her flexing, as we say here, was what pissed many off. She was clearly heard saying she thanked God for her feat and also her private part; a well known euphemism here for women using their body to get marks in higher institutions in the country.

Now, it is a well documented fact that many students in the country’s ivory towers are in the habit of either bribing their teachers to get marks or sleeping with them for same purpose. Sometimes it is the teachers who compel students to do so, while at other times it is the students who entice their teachers with money or their bodies to pass them.

The result of this is the preponderance of half baked graduates in the country today; graduates who can barely defend what they read. This has called to question the quality of education in the country.

While people can fume and condemn the action of the young woman in question, the fact remains that our institutions of higher learning bear a large chunk of the blame for what has sadly become the norm in our education system. It is not as if it is something that started today. At least during my polytechnic and university days in the mid-eighties to early nineties, that phenomenon had been very much around.

There was this young woman in my department in Uniport who could not summarize a chapter of a book while asked to do that by a female lecturer. It was one of the easiest things to do by anyone who studied their books.

But that same female student would go on to make an A in a very tough course taught by a male lecturer that was notorious for seeking sexual gratification from female students.

What happened then is still happening today and has even gone up several notches. We today know that many lecturers demand money from both female and male students before supervising their projects. In some cases, according to a former student, a lecturer will enter the class and say he was broke and that students had better buy his textbook if they wanted to go anywhere.

Sometimes too, the male lecturers will ask female students to rent rooms in hotels and pay for their lunch before meeting those female students there, while sometimes too the lecturers book rooms and ask the course reps to inform their targeted female students.

It is also known that most of the female students who sleep with or pay lecturers are those we know as runs girls. Men are also involved and these are mostly either politicians or business people. They do not stay in school and are mostly seen during exams or quizzes. Some don’t even attend quizzes if the lecturers are either not strict or are the approachable types who can be bribed. Yet these students who don’t attend classes end up scoring higher grades than those who attend classes.

I’ve also heard that female lecturers, mostly the married and divorcees, also target male students. But unlike their male lecturer counterparts, the female lecturers don’t fail those they fail to trap but will award high marks to those who play ball.

I understand that even when students report these cases the lecturers kill such reports through their numerous contacts in the school’s administrative section, mostly secretaries, before such gets to the appropriate desk and so the infamy continues.

But I believe our ivory towers are not doing enough to curtail this phenomenon. Yes, we have heard and read stories of lecturers who were punished by their institutions after being exposed, but the fact that this has persisted means that only the surface is being scratched.

For a female student to openly gloat and imply that she graduated because of sleeping with lecturers speaks volumes of the level of decay in our higher institutions. This is no longer what we should treat with levity. A lot of students go through hell in the hands of lecturers, both male and female, but they are not talking because of the severe consequences to be faced if caught.

This is why 80 % of young graduates today can’t put two sentences together without grammatical and spelling howlers. Even many lecturers today are not worth their pay, even with some of them answering professors; for is it not also some of these half baked graduates that will one day become lecturers?

Certainly, the Nekede graduate saga is just a reminder of some of the horrible things going on in our institutions of higher learning and it is time a total war was declared on this menace to address it once and for all.

Atiku and the Unifier Rubbish

If you are a close follower of the various presidential candidates for this year’s elections, you must have noticed what appears the central message of the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. That message is that he is the one to unify Nigeria.

No doubt, Nigeria never needed unifying in her history more than this period since after the civil war. Having been sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines because of the style of the present man at the helm of affairs in the country, Nigerians have learnt to mistrust one another once they are of different religions and tribes.

But we also know that part of the major reasons Nigerians have this mistrust stems from a feeling of injustice, unfairness and inequity. Of the three major ethnic groups in the country, it is only the Igbo that are yet to occupy the top seat.

But even when it is clear that this is the best time for Ndigbo to occupy the seat, Atiku, the unifier, is leading others from other ethnic groups to try and stop the Igbo from taking their turn. Thus, I ask, where lies the fairness, the justice and the equity?  Yet, this is a man who sings he wants to unify the country.

He can therefore tell it to the birds that he is a unifier. We that are suffering injustice, unfairness and inequality know we deserve better, much better than we have received and are receiving. Anyone who tells us that this is not our time, when it is crystal clear that it is, should never utter such a word as unifier, except they want to unify us in frustration.

…And When is Our Time?

Allied to what I just talked about above is this talk by some politicians that Ndigbo need to strategise in order to get the support of other Nigerians in the future for us to have a shot at the presidency. I find this very laughable and self-serving. Indeed, the only kinds of people who can be uttering this gibberish are the envious, the fools, and the mercenaries.

I say this with all sense of seriousness, for how can any rationale human being see what is unfolding today and say the Igbo Nation is not ripe for the presidency or cannot get it? Is it not foolishness for any Igbo person not to see what other Nigerians are seeing? Perhaps the people spewing this hogwash are those steeped in envy of the man Peter Obi, or those who are dumb enough to read and see signs.

They can also be those who have allowed themselves to be bought by those who have sworn to perpetually keep the Igbo out of the power corridors in Nigeria even when we are more than qualified to be there.

Is it not the height of foolishness for any Igbo person to believe the yarn that we need to wait for the right time? What time will be righter than now, if I may ask? Indeed, how can anyone say an Igbo man cannot get it at this time? Although Obi is from the Southeast, he is flying the flag for all progressive Nigerians who want a better deal, who want to be liberated from the manacles of those who have sworn to pin us down as a people.

As I keep saying, if it was another person that has the capacity and integrity like Obi to challenge the old order, Nigerians would have been following him. Thus it is not because of Obi as Obi but because he is the man that possesses the needed qualities and has the capacity at the moment to challenge the old order. Those who say it is not yet the turn of the Igbo are these people: Those who still see the entire thing as an Obi thing and thus clearly envious; those who are dumb enough not to see and read the signs of the times and those who can sell their parents for money.

All the indices so far, including various opinion poll results, show Obi as the clear winner. In such a time as this, the only parameters used in assessing the chances of candidates are poll results. And so if Obi leads in all the polls conducted so far, how can any right thinking and fair mind write Obi off in this election except they are wishing him failure? In this case, they should distinguish between their wish and the reality on ground.

Thus, if after all we are seeing today anyone tells the Igbo that it is not yet their turn, I ask, when will that turn be? Verily, verily, I pronounce, if the Igbo miss this golden chance, they should never dream of another chance in the nearest future; for even the rest of the country will remind them how they sold their chance when it was brightest.

Last Line

The priests, pastors, men of God, et al, down here in the east should see calling for people to vote for Obi as part of evangelism at this material time. There are still some people sitting on the fence and needing a shove to do the right thing. They should be preached to in order to join others in doing the right thing. I’m happy to note that even candidates of opposition parties are asking their supporters to vote for Obi. That is heartwarming and shows that our salvation isn’t all that far.

But the clerics should help to drive the gospel home, starting from this Sunday for those yet to do so. The message should be clear and direct; no innuendos. If clerics from other states outside our region are already spreading the gospel, why can’t we do same?