The chilling story of what happens in the Cold Room of University of Lagos is enough mirror of what goes on in the rest. It took the undercover, investigative journalism of Nikki Mordi of the BBC to open the can of worms. Our little daughters, sisters and even mothers are being blackmailed and devoured by the same caregivers in the nation’s citadel of learning where students are meant to be groomed and honed in both character and learning. Ours has since become a means-ends inversion (a case of something becoming a goal, which displaces the end (goal) that the method was supposed to achieve as the fundamental reason for its existence) and nothing more.
The nation is losing it on all fronts. But of all the evils that have befallen the country, the most damaging is what has happened to education. Somebody said to destroy a nation, you do not need any army. All that is needed is to destroy the educational system and everything else caves in and comes crashing in a heap. That is the Nigeria story in the main.
How the hell did we get here? It started since we were told that education no longer mattered. All that was needed was money no matter where it comes from. The nation then sacrificed merit and values, and began to run a totally disarticulated economy, which has no link between its town and gown.
A normal economy is noted by its articulate nature, where all integrations are in place – integration, backward and forward integration. But for lack of requisite knowledge and cognate competencies, Nigeria exports raw materials and imports finished products from countries that know how.
Such economies make servicing by their educational system inevitable. Such producing economies where all hands are on deck to produce or perish.
On the contrary, Nigerian economy claims audaciously that it does not need to produce to survive. Why should it produce to survive and grow when oil and gas sector keeps pumping in cheap free petrodollar into the system?
Since nature pumps in the money that has kept the nation’s economy afloat(until of late when oil sales can no longer pick our bills), how to spend the free petrodollar immediately became the nation’s only challenge. A wartime Nigerian leader also told the world the only challenge Nigeria had then was how to use its petrodollar. He then picked a few salary dockets of one or two African countries for proof.
The nation’s tertiary institutions lost their real use and value. It since existed simply to fulfill all righteousness and for merely distributing certificates rather than producing graduates. The results have also since started to show across board.
Like said, the students, especially the girl students, are under pervasive
psychological control. Sometimes called psychological intrusiveness, psychological control is the extent to which parents negatively try to control their children’s emotional state or beliefs. The core of psychological control is that it assaults the child’s self and exploits the child’s helplessness.
Yes what’s at play is psychological control. The girl child in the tertiary institutions is not in a position to defend herself. Who will believe her if she tells her story about the predators who ought to be her protectors?
Many more female students have become suicidal for this same harrowing experience. And there is no mechanism in the instituions for early detection and weeding off these criminals who have no business being lecturers in the first place.
Sexual exploitation of the young students in the institutions has not been properly situated and has been made too light of.
If psychological control is fully factored in, the total exploitation of helplessness of the young students, i.e. the sexual liaison between her and the lecturer is simply a rape.
Rape is having forceful carnal knowledge of a person. Since the girl student cannot put in any meaningful resistance due to psychological control, what goes on between her and lecturers is rape and should be treated as such.
Any attempt to look at this heinous sexual rascality as normal is double jeopardy for female students and blaming the victim. The average female student in the terriary instituition today is well below 18 years of age. So, apart from being statutorily a minor, there is the additional problem of power relations between two unequals. The girl child has nothing to hold off the bargain or better put, the threats of consequences for noncompliance on her part.
The hope of every student is to pass out, and with good grades too. And here is a predator assuring the poor student that her graduating will not only be delayed but will also not be with good grades if she graduates at all. The experience is so harrowing and therefore better imagined. What’s worse, those perpetrating it more often than not get away with it.
There are sadistic lectuerers who are reputed for keeping students behind. Their courses are said to be so difficult. Why should some courses be so difficult that they are the only ones many students never easily get past? How can one objectively explain that certain courses would be extraordinarily difficult to the point that majority of students often fail and those who pass are believed to have done some extraordinary things that may be extracurricular? Is it not safer to view such sadistic lecturers as incompetent?
It takes a bit of understanding of Emotional Intelligence to see this issue a bit more clearly. Emotional intelligence suggests we abandon sympathy and embrace empathy. Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Empathy is therefore putting us in the other person’s shoes. The raging terror in the individual female student’s mind is real. Her cry is for maternal and parental help from the society. The sexual predators on our campuses must not only be weeded out but also sent to jail. For their obvious dangerousness, they have to be locked away from society.
Who feels it knows it and to share in the feeling, we need to attempt to enter the young girl’s world and reason together with her if we have to achieve any change or help. We cannot achieve anything by staying aloof.
Schools need to employ an adequate number of psychologists and ensure that counselling centres are fully functional. There is now need for psychologists and psychiatrists to attend to our girls(and even boys as well) in our tertiary institutions and help heal the wounds inflicted by the sexual predators.
Most students do not know they can get help. Many don’t even know that schools have counseling units. Can we use billboards, pamphlets, fliers and so on to draw the students’ attention to the fact that they can get help? Can we introduce Helplines that students can call 24/7 that are 100% confidential?
Too many students have no adults looking out for them in the school system. Can HODs set out days just to listen to the students who have issues with predatory lecturers and on allied matters?
Deans of Student Affairs need to step into special cases; quietly working with HODs to resolves special conflicts, especially on sexual victimisation and predation.
The good lecturers need step in also to save the girl students by becoming their mentors. Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person, the mentor assists another (the mentoree).
Nigerian tertiary students are now made up of much younger persons, who find themselves in alien environments. Lecturers must act as surrogate parents they are and not like predators.
Calling it by its proper name: sexual relations between students and the lecturer is incestuous and predatory, and therefore a rape. The hottest part of hell should be reserved for such lecturers. But here on earth, they need to be locked away in jail for as long as possible.
*Dr. Law Mefor, is an Abuja-based Forensic and Social Psychologist; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tweeter @LawMefor1.