Gyang Bere, Jos
A lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Ademola Aremu, has advocated that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) set up an independent commission of enquiry to investigate cases of sexual harassment and exploitation of female students in Nigerian Universities.
The professor cited sexual harassment and exploitation of students, absenteeism from lectures without justification, offloading of lecture periods on Postgraduate/Junior colleagues, irregular attendance at lectures only to come and load students a few daysweeks to examinations, and selling of handouts as unethical practices that should attract sanctions.
Prof. Aremu made the recommendation during a one-day public lecture organised by the ASUU at the University of Jos titled ‘The moral force in the University and work ethics: The role of ASUU’.
“At home and abroad, we have been in the news recently for reasons that are quite embarrassing. Perhaps the question to start with in this regard is: Are we truly embarrassed by the #SexForGrades scandal? It is a highly embarrassing issue, and this makes it equally highly eligible for consideration in the light of the topic of concern here,” Aremu remarked.
“In Nigeria, we have been witnesses to the violation of hallowed sanctuaries of social existence and communion. I mean places of worship and institutions of learning at all levels by sexual predators. The usual reaction has been for the men who run these places to ignore the issue or give it no more than a side glance, and then move on in the clear hope that society would soon find something else to distract its attention.
“The indicted are our scapegoats, more or less, until we undertake the exercise of full accounting and reckoning. Do we, as a union, have the courage to call for a high-powered and independent commission of inquiry, not so much to punish perpetrators, as to set things right by means of an open call for memoranda and submissions from past and present female students, past and present female university workers, including cleaners, etc.
“Our work ethic, our roles and functions as a body, should reflect this same principle of self-examination, guided by the duty to protect the vulnerable in our midst and the responsibility of setting an example for the rest of society, ranging over our teaching, research, and publications, and our extracurricular and extramural engagements.”
Prof. Aremu said that there is need to adopt a sincere progressive paradigm to the problem and put in place the best practices and mechanisms for monitoring, setting an example for other sectors of society where the same atrocity has become the norm.
He said the ASUU has to be willing to be self-critical to be able to speak truth to power and provide leadership for those looking up to the union.