• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Corruption in the academia

In the mid 1990s I attended a public lecture in one of the first generation federal universities in Nigeria and the subject of discourse was on corruption. At that lecture, a University lecturer made remarks that the Police institution was riddled with corruption, thus inept. A senior policeman at the lecture responded quickly noting that corruption is everywhere in the country and that having passed through the university system in that particular university he knows how corruption is prevalent in the academia. At this point, the ‘holier-than-thou’ Lecturer took a retreat as he realised that the Policeman was infuriated and was ready to disclose details.

No one indeed or no institution should really be enmeshed in corrupt practices. But when those who should be molding a nation’s human capital and uphold standards that would deliver efficiency and productivity across human society are encouraging short-cuts and perverting set processes for the achievement of excellence then all hope seem lost.

It is no longer news that many students go through tertiary institutions by ‘sorting’ academic and even non-academic staff in cash or kind as the student’s gender may determine. The result is a monumental perversion of academic standards. The lazy ones get good grades may be along with the hardworking students or at the detriment of the latter. These empty students having sorted grades and classes are unleashed on the larger society. Employers find no value, either at the recruitment process or even when they somehow find themselves as employees.

With this retrogressive and shameful trend, is it surprising that in our society values of hard work, honesty, dedication are no longer cherished especially among youths in the country?

I hear from reliable quarters that, in some federal universities, not being from the dominant ethnic group of the region where the University is domiciled denies you the opportunity of being employed as an academic or any high non-academic position, no matter how competent you are. This ethnic based selection process in a territory where excellence should indeed drive processes is disturbing and a testimony to the rot in our University system, condoned by holier-than-thou academics.

When academics seek autonomies for their enclaves, is it really for the purpose of securing better authority or control to cleanse the academia of corrupt practices, or to deepen such? We have seen in this country how quick academics run down Nigeria’s political leaders even when they are not better or running institutions where grades are literally sold.

On the proper usage of huge funds at the disposal of Universities in the country, are the accounts of our universities subjected to proper audit processes? Are Vice-Chancellors really accountable? Who audits the Ivory-Tower? Are they secular monks that throw around their garb of sainthood even when the facts speak otherwise?  Is the increased banal politicking in Universities, especially among academics, in the struggle for positions borne of true desire to improve standards, or to have undue access to funds?

Nigeria cannot be positively transformed without a total cleansing of the academia. With a predicted youth bulge in Nigeria, and the huge human capital loss that may occur if  these youths are not properly ‘baked’ to be productive and efficient, urgent and decisive steps must be taken to put a check on the dangerous trend of corruption in the country’s academic community.

IKENNA OBI