The OAU in the above headline refers to Obafemi Awolowo University tucked away in a sprawling village called Ile-Ife, an enduring cradle of Yoruba culture and civilisation. The sex in the headline refers to the scandal that has rocked the university for some months now but which has happily been resolved in favour of what is institutionally appropriate and unacceptable in a reputable institution of higher learning.
This column gives full marks, an A plus, to the institution for the wise manner in which it has handled the scandal with the unflattering sobriquet, sex-for-marks scandal. The facts: A professor called Richard Akindele in the Department of Management and Accounting of the university was accused of demanding sex in order to upgrade the marks of a female postgraduate student, Miss Monica Osagie. The conversation between the student and the professor, the hunted and the hunter, was recorded on WhatsApp by the girl and released by the gift of modern technology to the world.
The university set up a committee to investigate the allegation and on June 20 this year the vice chancellor, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, announced the verdict of the university council. The council, led by Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, a former lecturer in that university, had met earlier in the day to ratify the findings of the investigating panel and the senate. From the information offered by the vice chancellor, every step was taken to observe due process and fair hearing. The senate had satisfied itself that the lecturer had an inappropriate relationship with the student and compromised his position as a teacher and examiner. The girl, Monica, scored 45, a pass mark, but the professor told her that she scored 33 and offered to change it to a pass mark if she would submit herself to be “knacked five times.” The professor claimed that the girl knew that she had 45 but was harassing him to award her a higher mark so she could get an A. The university said Prof. Akindele’s claim was unproven. The professor has been dismissed from his job in the institution.
The young lady, Monica, deserves full marks for the courage she displayed on the matter. First, she reported the randy professor to his colleagues but they apparently could not restrain him from trying to reach her “waistern” region. Then she got his conversation with her recorded and leaked to the world. From then onwards, there was no hiding place because the story had expanded its life. Finally, she willingly appeared at the university to testify on the matter. Her testimony made it easy for the university to arrive at a fair and just decision on the matter.
In the WhatsApp conversation, the girl kept mentioning the professor’s name as she pleaded for him to forget about “knacking her five times.” The professor told her not to keep mentioning his name but the girl knew what she was doing. The student was smarter than the professor who behaved like the proverbial greedy fly that followed the corpse into the grave.
The word “knack” as an onomatopic definition of sexual activity seems to have an eternal longevity period. In our university days in the 70s, it was a favourite recurring decimal in sex conversations, especially when it came to the analysis of what came to be known as Okafor’s Laws. His laws were three sex laws, namely, (a) once knacked it has been knacked, (b) when knacked it can be reknacked, (c) when it is reknacked it is new. In the university system, the discussion of sex, not even the practice of it, was considered a boredom slayer, a relief potion, from the rigour of academic exertion. It was a harmless pastime for both students and lecturers and some lecturers even used it to grab the attention of students before actual lectures began. Sex is not like rap music, ghetto music, reserved largely for the underclass.
Researchers on sex have indicated that it is the only subject that can receive the 100 per cent attention of listerners at a lecture beyond 30 minutes. Sex discussion transcends boundaries because, as W.C. Fields said, “some things are better than sex and some worse but there’s nothing exactly like it.”
Sex is a universal menu, enjoyed by all, sexual gourmets and neophytes, and its idiom is understood by everyone. Advances in technology have made the Internet and the smartphone the agent for the vulgarisation of this subject, which used to be regarded as sublime and surreal. That is not necessarily a vice because many people have been able to make friends or make wives or husbands out of people they “met” on the Internet.
Monica’s photograph shows that she has a reasonable fraction of attraction, some kind of sex appeal. But this column has no idea whether or not she loved low neckline dresses with spaghetti strings, which would make the bumps on her chest to turn the professor’s head. Or did she put a little sway in her walk, which may have tended to sway the lecturer? Or was the lecturer simply an old man with lascivious passion for those girls nearly newly emerged from the cradle? Whatever it was, the old man’s persistence had failed in the face of the young woman’s resistance.
Office romance is commonplace. When it is practised by two consenting adults, it seems normal because there is the presumption that, as adults, they both know what they want. But the normality of it disappears when it is carried out by two persons with one person in a superintending position over the other. The ethics of work is likely to be breached. If the superintendent or supervisor makes sexual advances to a girl under his supervision and the girl says “no” she stands the risk of receiving unmerited punishment. This is because heaven knows no fury like an applicant-lover scorned. If she agrees, she stands to receive undeserved favours, which will guarantee the longevity of the romance. Neither scenario is healthy for the work environment or the society.
Men who sexually harass younger women put under their charge either in offices or educational institutions suffer from two complexes, (a) inferiority complex and (b) penny pinching complex. Making a romantic advance to a woman takes courage because there is no certainty whether or not the woman will agree or tell you off or simply hiss and walk away.
Human beings resent rejection. So, many men take the path of least resistance by harassing people in their facility who they think may yield because of the inbuilt reward or punishment in their setting. I do not know the etymology of the word “chiking” but it has come to be an alluring word in Nigeria for making amorous advances. “Chiking” a lady is an expensive business at any level. At a lower level, the girl’s expectation may be low: chicken, wine, recharge card, aso ebi, little money for shopping, Indian hair fixing, house rent and other medium-sized requests. But the requests get scaled up according to the girl’s glamour grade and greed and her own assessment of the depth of the man’s wallet. The most glamourous ask for higher dividends: a Lexus SUV, a holiday in Dubai, London and New York, a mansion at Banana Island or all of the above. That tells you that chiking is not a business for penny pinchers who are counting the days of the month. In the romance matter, women’s yearnings seem to be determined by the men’s earnings. This column is informed that many young ladies aspiring to serve in the National Youth Service Corps programme choose three cities as their preferential destinations: Abuja, because of the undeservingly high income of the Senators; Port Harcourt, because the oil company executives can pay for services in dollars; and Lagos, because the business and professionalwelite – and the Yahoo boys – have more money than they need.
Prof. Akindele is not the only top man to fall on account of sex. There has always been a lot of low life at the top. Bill Clinton, America’s former President had a brush with it. America’s current President, Donald Trump, has been thumped by more than a dozen ladies. In 1963, there was the famous John Profumo scandal in Britain. Profumo, a war minister in the Conservative government, was caught having an affair with a call girl called Christine Keeler. The main gist apart from the sex was that Keeler was also a mistress to a Russian spy. On June 5, 1963, Profumo had to resign. He fell from the steamy height of sexual lust to the trash can of disgrace below. In May 2011, Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a leading politician in the French Socialist Party and managing director of the IMF, also fell from grace to grass on account of sexual harassment. A Guinean single mother, Nafissatou Diallo, had accused the then IMF boss of fondling her at Sofitel New York Hotel on May 14, 2011, where she worked as a housekeeper. He lost his plum job. The current Hollywood recitals of sexual harassment have confirmed that sex is not just the opium of the poor but the aphrodisiac of most humans, including some Catholic priests who swore to the celibacy oath. No one has been able to fully explain the global obsession with sex and why men would risk their jobs, their thrones and their integrity for a few minutes of acrobatics beneath the sheets. It is obvious that the universality of the Internet has taken the subject to a full orgasm. But it is ironical that at the end of a sexual encounter with all the thrill, with all the aaaahs and ooohs, sex partners always end up in a state of apoplexy. Prof. Akindele’s apoplexy is different, disastrously different.