#SexForGrades, the BBC investigation chaired by Nigerian journalist Kiki Mordi and Charlie Northcott has the whole of Africa’s millennial population in a state of contemplation. The practice of pressuring, coercing or outrightly forcing students to either have sex with lecturers or part with their money in exchange for a passing grade in courses in University is a decades old problem, that started in the 70’s and has evolved as technology has changed how we handle money and increased the access to students that lecturers have.
But Ms. Mordi’s investigative piece brought the scourge back into the spotlight and forced Nigerian universities, both public and private to acknowledge the existence of the problem and hopefully make gestures that suggest that they are willing to address them. The University of Nigeria Nsukka announced it was suspending 14 staff (thought they didn’t specify who), who were implicated in cases of sex for grades, Ahmadu Bello University also let go of some of its staff for the same crime. The presidency put out its usual tweet thread press statement condemning the phenomenon and asking that change be effected, by who, they don’t specify.
Even the Nigerian senate who threw out an Anti-Sexual Harassment bill in 2018, citing that the bill was ‘discriminatory’ to lecturers, has picked the bill back up and is putting it through a first reading.
One quarter has stayed largely silent on the entire matter. The minister for education Adamu Adamu, under whose jurisdiction this crime and the consequences thereof lie, is yet to give an official statement and outline a plan of action to compensate the victims who came forward about sexual harassement and punishments for the lecturers exposed as well as the others who have protected them. This kind of incompetence is normal for Nigeria, but foreign interest often forces Nigerian government officials to respond.
This is what makes Adamu’s silence even more worrying. It seems as though he doesn’t care, or worse he has given up on reforming the Nigerian education sector. If we are going to get even a sliver of the progress we so desperately need, we cannot have ministers who need to prodded and shamed to action on matters as important as this.
Adamu Adamu, we are still waiting on you.