An Unspoken Menace – Sexual Harassment in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions
In 2002, Nigerian rapper Eedris Abdulkareem released the hit single Mr Lecturer, which was a widely accepted among the Nigerian populace. In the video, Eedris plays a lecturer at a university who asks a female student named Bimbo to come and see him in his office after class. There he tells her, ‘You failed my test, you failed exams; if you want to pass, you know what to do.’
The song portrays a common scenario in Nigerian tertiary institutions, where lecturers regularly single out female students and demand that they sleep with them or risk failing their exams, or in order to change their grades in courses they have failed. Students who refuse to compromise may graduate with terrible grades, or be forced to drop out. Lecturers will harass students until they give in to their demands, and in some cases a group of lecturers will gang up against a student to break her resolve.
The sexual harassment of female students by lecturers, non-academic staff and even male students has always been an issue in Nigerian universities. However, after a series of highly public incidents some universities are beginning to wake up to the problem
Most recently is the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) sex for grades scandal. The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), commends the Institution (OAU) on its recent action of dismissal of its lecturer, Professor Richard Akindele, who was found guilty of Sexual Harassment.
The Governing Council of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) has dismissed Professor Richard Akindele from the services of the University for gross misconduct – an official press release read.
Vice Chancellor of OAU, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, disclosed this to reporters after the meeting of the Council on Wednesday in Ile Ife, Osun State. He revealed that the Council, after its findings, concluded that Professor Akindele had an inappropriate relationship with one of his students, Miss Monica Osagie, a claim to which he admitted.The Council also discovered that the don had offered to change Osagie’s 33 per cent result to a pass mark, in consideration for sexual favours. According to the vice chancellor, this was established in an audio recording that went viral in early April which Akindele also admitted to.
He informed journalists that from the evidence, Miss Osagie had no idea that she scored 45 per cent pass mark as claimed by the erring professor, although the student later found out she did not fail the course.
Professor Ogunbodede noted that the Council, from all findings, found out that Professor Akindele operated in a position of power and authority over Miss Osagie and as such sexually harassed her.
He added that Professor Akindele was found to be liable for all allegations of misconduct levelled against him with all the evidence at the Council’s disposal.
The VC pointed out that this led to the dismissal of the academic from the services of the university, to serve as a deterrent to others.
He disclosed further that the university has taken further steps to ensure total elimination of sexual harassment in the OAU community.
According to Ogunbodede, the institution has a legal duty to prevent sexual and gender-based harassment within the school and to ensure that both men and women are protected from the menace.
To achieve this, he said the university has put a strategic implementation framework for sexual harassment policy in place.
The vice chancellor explained that this would ensure effective and rapid redress mechanisms to incidents of sexual harassment, just as a whistle-blower policy is also being developed by the university.
WRAPA lauds OAU for its discipline and tenacity in curbing Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), which includes Sexual Harassment and implores all other institutions to function within these standards.
News Credit: The Citizen Online