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Displaying items by tag: unilag

Ejiks1

 

From selling tobacco at bus parks to drinking oil & smoking gas at one of the world's biggest oil & gas giants!

 

Humans love catharsis – that situation which draws pity and fear from you. Pity, for the sad experience, and fear, because somewhere deep down you’re terrified that the same thing may happen to you or a loved one. Far above this love for catharsis, is a dislike for tragedy. Almost everyone loves a good story – the kind of story that leaves your heart bursting with happiness even though it might have started on a sad note. Such a story falls neatly in the ‘from grass to grace’ category. But even grasses may be a luxury in some desperate times when the earth around you boils and vegetations cannot thrive. It can be likened to the scorch of the sun, unrelenting in the sky and no matter where you turn to for shelter, the excruciating bites of the heat follow. Then, suddenly you’re transported onto a calm scenery, where a cool breeze caresses your skin and the wet, titillating scent of nature is inhaled with your every breath. Imagine for a moment, the exhilarating feeling! That was the exact feeling for Collins Ezeocha!

  

Collins Ezeocha grew up in the rustic setting of old Maroko, where shanties sat on each other’s shoulders and became a floating abyss when the waters overran the banks and flowed freely through the streets. The demolition of the Maroko area in 1990 led to the relocation of his family to Ajegunle. Collins speaks reminiscently of that period: “Our house was not far from the present location of Eti-Osa Local Govt. I have jokingly referred to my background as poor with a lot of ‘shukushuku’ (thorns).” He fondly remembers playing football and rolling tyres, wearing only his underpants with other kids on the streets and the delights of the banal such as drinking garri with fried pork. There was a sense of communal living – a type of togetherness absent in today’s ‘gated’ lifestyle especially among the elites. The Ezeochas were not wealthy, but they were happy.

  

Then, the vicissitudes of life kicked in and just like the highly famous demand curve in Economics, which is dependent on some near-irrefutable laws, there was indeed a downward-shaped slope. Worse still, the actual situation became more like a scatter-graph. Collins relates:

“My mother died on the 9th of January, 1995. It was a great loss that had a huge impact on my life. It slowed down my academic pursuit; it changed the course of my academic journey. My mother was a petty trader but her income by far surpassed that of my dad. She was determined to give us the best with her limited resources. I recall having at least two textbooks for each of my science subjects. But after her death, this all changed. I had to live with my uncle and my kid brother went to live with our cousin.”

  

 

During this trying time after his mother’s death, an incident remains etched in his memory. After a stern warning from his Biology teacher in high school who had threatened fire and brimstone if he missed a practical class, Collins had had to trek from Pako Aguda to Broad Street, Lagos! His uncle had forgotten to drop his transport fare. For a child who grew up under the sheltered wings of his mother, it was very difficult for Collins to beg or ask people for favours. So, he had braced himself and trekked that long distance. He recalls that emotional experience: “I got to school and started crying. My Vice Principal helped to rally around to get some money for me to return home.”

 

Ejiks2

 

That strenuous trek was to set the pace for varying challenges he had to face headlong as the years trudged by slowly. After Collins finished his secondary school education, he couldn’t proceed for further studies immediately because first, he had to survive. He took to teaching (mainly home coaching) Physics, Chemistry and Maths. He went to the homes of the elites and the middle class – he noticed the quality of life they had; beautiful homes and lovely children provided with luxury & comfort. This observation sometimes left him depressed as he returned to his space of almost nothing but over time, it motivated him to strive harder to make the most of his situation. He was ready to try his hands on anything just to succeed and he recollects vividly: “Let me quickly add that I also stayed with a friend that was selling tobacco and I did sell tobacco (taba) at Maroko bus stop for almost a year.”

 

While it’s all too common to find young people in need being under immense pressure to crack up & simply find shortcuts out of any undesirable hole, Collins remained resolute & gritty. His humble and disciplined upbringing helped him remain focused, against all odds. Collins says:

“I didn't have to look for quick fixes or corrupt practices. As I said earlier, ‘mo ta taba ati ogogoro’ (I sold tobacco and gin) at Maroko Bus Stop. And there were times when my employer had to introduce me as a graduate to some of the families whose children I taught just to make them feel more comfortable with me. They would look at me with suspicion but after the teaching, they would be so impressed that I often got some additional goodwill compensation. Aside those cases, I can't remember getting involved in any corrupt shortcuts.”

 

For a period of two years, Collins worked hard to eke out a living. Then, there came a rare opportunity for him to advance with his biggest aspiration – to get an education. The vice principal of the secondary school he attended had introduced him to some old students for their assistance. However, these persons were only interested in assisting him if  & only if he accepted to study medicine in the university. Given the duration of a medical course and his peculiar circumstances, it didn't quite cut the mustard for him; he would possibly not survive such a marathon without firm financial assurances. Instinctively, he knew he was cut out for just one specific area: Engineering. His main reason for this choice was his strong numerical ability and love for the “core” science subjects. He did not have any guidance or mentoring on this and took the decision solely based on his academic prowess in subjects such as physics & mathematics. Collins had heard that the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) was an institution which promoted practical & applied knowledge; and this provided further impetus & a firm assurance of self-empowerment even without the prospect of a paid job after his studies. In no time, his tertiary education adventure kicked off at YABATECH. “The entrance form fee was paid for by my immediate senior at Methodist Boys High School whom I ran into on Marina road. Mohammed Usman, if you get to read this, I say thank you.”

 

A year passed by and while in a mechanical workshop with more than 100 students gathered around a Lathe machine and with him barely able to see the practical instructions being shown, Collins decided to leave the workshop for the library. On the pages of a book, he learnt what was being taught in the practical class and in the examination, he scored 86 (the highest mark) without any practical or operational knowledge. Collins realised it was time to do something bizarre – “My worst fears stared me in the face. The practical knowledge I had sought was not what I was getting. I took a decision to leave engineering and embark on another course in the university. I bought a GCE form and registered for a few social-science subjects. I also bought a JAMB form to apply to study accounting at the prestigious University of Lagos. It was a tough decision and I didn't discuss it with anyone. I didn't know as of that time that engineering in Nigeria was driven mainly by the industry you eventually got employed into.”

 

Collins like a diligent farmer did not abandon his tilled crops close to the harvest. He chose to complete his National Diploma in Engineering while he also prepared for his new exploration into the social-science world. Collins recounts proudly: “I left YABATECH as the best engineering student at ND level and months later, got admitted into the University of Lagos on merit to study accounting. Again, the fear of not being able to defend my certificate (practical wise) came into my mind. However, I was determined to give it my best efforts.”

 

Ejiks3

  

As an Akokite (a UNILAG student), the struggle was unrelenting. Everything on campus was expensive as the general belief, especially among  commodity vendors, was that only rich folks attended UNILAG. This was before private universities took that award away. Would you blame them? Everything on campus supported & cemented that belief; there were rich students, the Yahoo boys & the aristo-babes in Moremi & Fagunwa. So, many folks were either from rich homes or were doing something, albeit illegit, to maintain a lifestyle garnished with luxury.  So, surviving on campus while aiming to top a class filled with some of the most intelligent students out there (many of them with already well-established social-science foundation) with no much financial assistance from anybody was quite daunting. 

 

To survive, Collins continued with teaching but this time around, within the university environment in Akoka. I was taking Distance Learning Institute (DLI) students, LASU part-time students and private students. I was also on a number of scholarships that no doubt were life-savers.” When he was asked about the strategies he used in maintaining excellence in his studies, this was his inspiring response: “Start with the end in mind. The drive for me was to make a First Class ab initio. The strategy was simple – STUDY, STUDY and STUDY. I tried in most cases to be ahead of the class – I solved lots of questions and went the extra mile. Prioritise your time. Yes, catch some fun but let your primary objective be to leave the school with the best you can.” Indeed, Ejiks (as he was fondly called by his classmates & admirers) became a hot property on campus in no time as his reputation as one of the academic giants in UNILAG soared tremendously. The name of the engineer-turned-accountant phenomenon rang a bell in Newest Hall, Marierie, King Jaja, MTH, Amina, Faculty of Business Admin, even all the way to the Faculty of Engineering where the top dogs there were too glad that he had  swiftly made that switch while entering UNILAG (one less competitor!). At the end of the very first semester of his first year, he was already on First-Class. This, he maintained till the very end; blasting a few records along the way.

 

Ejiks is, indeed, one of a kind. This was someone who did sciences all through his days in high school. He went to YABATECH & beat everyone to pick up the top award in Engineering. He woke up, had a whim & decided to "cross-carpet" to the other side. After a year or two, he was  not only ahead of the pack in his new field, he was teaching people who had done those same subjects all their lives. He had a singular belief which he held onto: he believed if he attained success in his academics, he would be on a path to success in life. “Absolutely, it makes life’s journey easy especially if you are not leaving straight to run your company. Getting good grades gives you an invite to most job tests. It makes it easier for someone to want to refer you. It is an immediate assessment of your capability without trying you out. It bridges the gap between an elite and a rural guy. In my case, God granted me favour by blessing the work of my hand. Do your bit and let God do the rest.”

 

Now, to the pressing question on most minds – how did that boy who once sold tobacco at bus parks end up in an IOC (international oil company)? Collins Ezeocha’s response: “Na God! I applied to the IOC via Naijahotjobs during my NYSC in Minna. I was lucky to be among the few that were eventually employed after the rigorous employment process.” According to Collins, his strategy for sustaining excellence and uniqueness in his workplace is simple: “Try to be the best at what you do. Go the extra mile, have a self-propelling drive/passion for excellence. Let your work speak for you and then leave the rest to God.”

 

Ejiks4

  

It is noteworthy that after all the rigours this young man has passed through, he has retained a boisterous spirit, one which radiates through his lively responses. If Collins Ezeocha had a chance to rewrite his life’s history, what are the things he would change and those he would prefer remained the same? Maybe I should start with hoping I was born into an elite or middle class home (hahahaha). On a more serious note, I think my life actually revolved this way because of my background. I would prefer the discipline, godly instructions from my parents, strong value system, drive for excellence and self-starter traits remained the same.”

 

For the struggling youths and entry-level staff entering the corporate world in Nigeria, he had this advice: “Be focused. Let the end guide your behaviour, inculcate a penchant for excellence, create an enviable brand for yourself. Ask yourself what you would want to be remembered for. Lastly, don’t lose hope. My God who did it for me, will do much more for you.”

 

Collins Ezeocha is happily married to his beautiful wife, Diana, whom he met at UNILAG and they are blessed with two beautiful daughters & a lovely son.

 

        Ejiks5

 

 

      Ejiks7     

 

 

Developed Exclusively for LeVitateNaija by: Ife Watson & Isaac Audu-Usman

 

 

       

 

 

The Illusions of the First Year in College - Part One

 

Illusions of the first yr in school

 

By Isaac Audu-Usman

 

 

The excitement that builds up in our minds immediately after those five or six years of being condemned to putting on bland, unsavory uniforms almost every single day of the week can be so exhilarating that most students who are just on the verge of blowing a goodbye kiss to high school, often find themselves basking in the euphoria of unfettered joy. Whew!! What a relief! You just can’t imagine that hot molten magma that is bubbling down below, filled with the knowledge that you don’t have to frantically rush to make the 8am cut-off for resumption, no more school lashes, no more assorted blend of school chores and punishment, and the big one: the fact that you are now considered ripe enough to venture into the next level, the adventure of being finally set free to attend the university! Over the moon!

 

Then, depending on your academic clout, as well as your fate in the draw of luck, you find yourself in the university even before you have barely recovered fully from the escapades of after-high-school loafing! ‘It can’t get any better’, you whisper mischievously to yourself. Now you can brandish your new identity: ‘I am a student of Engineering at the prestigious University of Lagos’. Congratulations! What a great achievement! More power to your elbow indeed. You just can’t help falling in love with the ambience and sophistication of your new world: the campus environment. It seems your life has just been well scripted by some invisible being, who watches attentively from some mysterious ivory tower of elephant tusk, to the finest of details. Your level has changed astronomically to the point that you are the envy and hottest gist among your high school mates.

 

You are an Akokite! What could be better at this point of your life? Life couldn’t be sweeter and you couldn’t care less about relishing and enjoying every bit of it along the way. After all, you have worked extremely hard to get here. So, it’s time for you to just puff it out and give yourself the treat of a lifetime. The babes are noticing for sure. They can’t help asking you to take and send those selfies. And why not please? Who cares after all? It’s your life. You are the architect of your own reality. Your conscious efforts, actions and decisions brought you to this bliss of Lagoon heaven that is finely dotted and punctuated by loads of endless opportunities to make the next few years the best of your life…

 

Your matriculation party was the bomb! It was just so tight that your peeps and goons just couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks. Your matric pictures flooded the Facebook sphere. It garnered the most active discussions on Twitter among your friends. BBM DPs were awash with your colourful matric pictures. Instagram even brought them far more to life by adding that exotic gloss that only those very few suavely designed Apps can possibly pull off, to make you look like those superstars you see on HELLO! Magazine, on E! Online or on MTV with the verve and poise that would be simply unrivalled any day….

 

Then, the classes begin. Fun time is here! Or so you had thought at the very outset. Then, you were blown out of the water by the seismic shocks of disappointment and disbelief in what the system was capable of actually offering vis-à-vis the very high lofty expectations you had surreptitiously bellied inside, up until this very currency of time. The classrooms are just a complete joke! The buildings are not only grossly dilapidated but feistily cursed with a plethora of meandering crevices crisscrossing every nook and cranny of the walls which have somewhat conspired to provide the perfect indoor sanctuary for all sorts of assorted insects and crawlers in the zoological kingdom to fester with sheer aplomb. Worse still, the classes are just plain stuffy with two hundred pairs of ever active nostrils snorting out, without restriction, an avalanche of carbon emissions capable of snowballing the indoor temperature levels upwards in leaps and bounds! It is pointless complaining that there are no fans, let alone air conditioners, as there is just no power to propel them in the first instance. What about having generators? Hmmm…that’s like looking for a polar bear in the Sahara!

 

 It’s time to shelve the truckload of uncontrollable issues in the classroom environment and just find a way to enjoy the reason you are here in the first place. Ah, the lectures! Unfortunately, there is very little joy to be found in that space too. The lectures are just plain bland. In fact, the lecturers are some bunch of old fools who lack, in every sense of the word, the creativity and imaginative power of modern day education where fun is just supposed to be deeply embedded as an integral part of the total experience.

 

Well, it’s time to drift away and find something more fun to do in this heat. You raise your head up and out of the blue, your aerial satellite frantically picks up an unusual signal from outer space. Wow! What a site! That babe is cute. I bet you didn’t notice her all this while. Well, the class won’t be that bad after all with such a paragon of beauty who will be here to save the day for the next couple of years. Wow, her smile is so charming that it could easily freeze time! Damn, she is voluptuous. Just check out her onshore-offshore dichotomized features. Whew! The already hot temperature in the classroom may just have increased by another 5-7 degrees! You think about it again. Yeah, this may just be the reason you are here. To find her and make her your own! Damn those boring lectures. Damn that lecturer; that epitome of staleness. You are intelligent. You are smart. You did it in high school. So, what’s the biggie? You will do it again. You can study and assimilate and blast those exams. For now, you have finally found a new hobby: a new adventure with loads of fun hidden along its mysterious path. Something really close and surreal, yet feels magically out of this world. This is it. You will hunt her into any hole there is on this planet and break all the China walls on your path to finally decoding the password to her heart!

 

 

 

The Illusions of the First Year in College - Part One

 

Illusions of the first yr in school

 

By Isaac Audu-Usman

 

 

The excitement that builds up in our minds immediately after those five or six years of being condemned to putting on bland, unsavory uniforms almost every single day of the week can be so exhilarating that most students who are just on the verge of blowing a goodbye kiss to high school, often find themselves basking in the euphoria of unfettered joy. Whew!! What a relief! You just can’t imagine that hot molten magma that is bubbling down below, filled with the knowledge that you don’t have to frantically rush to make the 8am cut-off for resumption, no more school lashes, no more assorted blend of school chores and punishment, and the big one: the fact that you are now considered ripe enough to venture into the next level, the adventure of being finally set free to attend the university! Over the moon!

 

Then, depending on your academic clout, as well as your fate in the draw of luck, you find yourself in the university even before you have barely recovered fully from the escapades of after-high-school loafing! ‘It can’t get any better’, you whisper mischievously to yourself. Now you can brandish your new identity: ‘I am a student of Engineering at the prestigious University of Lagos’. Congratulations! What a great achievement! More power to your elbow indeed. You just can’t help falling in love with the ambience and sophistication of your new world: the campus environment. It seems your life has just been well scripted by some invisible being, who watches attentively from some mysterious ivory tower of elephant tusk, to the finest of details. Your level has changed astronomically to the point that you are the envy and hottest gist among your high school mates.

 

You are an Akokite! What could be better at this point of your life? Life couldn’t be sweeter and you couldn’t care less about relishing and enjoying every bit of it along the way. After all, you have worked extremely hard to get here. So, it’s time for you to just puff it out and give yourself the treat of a lifetime. The babes are noticing for sure. They can’t help asking you to take and send those selfies. And why not please? Who cares after all? It’s your life. You are the architect of your own reality. Your conscious efforts, actions and decisions brought you to this bliss of Lagoon heaven that is finely dotted and punctuated by loads of endless opportunities to make the next few years the best of your life…

 

Your matriculation party was the bomb! It was just so tight that your peeps and goons just couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks. Your matric pictures flooded the Facebook sphere. It garnered the most active discussions on Twitter among your friends. BBM DPs were awash with your colourful matric pictures. Instagram even brought them far more to life by adding that exotic gloss that only those very few suavely designed Apps can possibly pull off, to make you look like those superstars you see on HELLO! Magazine, on E! Online or on MTV with the verve and poise that would be simply unrivalled any day….

 

Then, the classes begin. Fun time is here! Or so you had thought at the very outset. Then, you were blown out of the water by the seismic shocks of disappointment and disbelief in what the system was capable of actually offering vis-à-vis the very high lofty expectations you had surreptitiously bellied inside, up until this very currency of time. The classrooms are just a complete joke! The buildings are not only grossly dilapidated but feistily cursed with a plethora of meandering crevices crisscrossing every nook and cranny of the walls which have somewhat conspired to provide the perfect indoor sanctuary for all sorts of assorted insects and crawlers in the zoological kingdom to fester with sheer aplomb. Worse still, the classes are just plain stuffy with two hundred pairs of ever active nostrils snorting out, without restriction, an avalanche of carbon emissions capable of snowballing the indoor temperature levels upwards in leaps and bounds! It is pointless complaining that there are no fans, let alone air conditioners, as there is just no power to propel them in the first instance. What about having generators? Hmmm…that’s like looking for a polar bear in the Sahara!

 

 It’s time to shelve the truckload of uncontrollable issues in the classroom environment and just find a way to enjoy the reason you are here in the first place. Ah, the lectures! Unfortunately, there is very little joy to be found in that space too. The lectures are just plain bland. In fact, the lecturers are some bunch of old fools who lack, in every sense of the word, the creativity and imaginative power of modern day education where fun is just supposed to be deeply embedded as an integral part of the total experience.

 

Well, it’s time to drift away and find something more fun to do in this heat. You raise your head up and out of the blue, your aerial satellite frantically picks up an unusual signal from outer space. Wow! What a site! That babe is cute. I bet you didn’t notice her all this while. Well, the class won’t be that bad after all with such a paragon of beauty who will be here to save the day for the next couple of years. Wow, her smile is so charming that it could easily freeze time! Damn, she is voluptuous. Just check out her onshore-offshore dichotomized features. Whew! The already hot temperature in the classroom may just have increased by another 5-7 degrees! You think about it again. Yeah, this may just be the reason you are here. To find her and make her your own! Damn those boring lectures. Damn that lecturer; that epitome of staleness. You are intelligent. You are smart. You did it in high school. So, what’s the biggie? You will do it again. You can study and assimilate and blast those exams. For now, you have finally found a new hobby: a new adventure with loads of fun hidden along its mysterious path. Something really close and surreal, yet feels magically out of this world. This is it. You will hunt her into any hole there is on this planet and break all the China walls on your path to finally decoding the password to her heart!

 

 

 

sexual harrassment

 

(Read part 1 here)

 

Kelena decided to take matters into her hands and do something about the frequent harassment, not just for herself but to clear the whole system. Kelena said to herself: 'I know it is not going to be an easy fight or even happen quickly but I am going to do it. I plan on getting actual evidence that can nail any of these men that first falls prey to my prank.’

 

Kelena narrates:

I finally opened up to my friends and behold they all had their individual stories and a few had already given into the evil desires of the lecturers and felt they could not stop or they would face grave consequences.   A few of us decided that we would lure these lecturers to the same location (a hotel found for us by Natalie's boyfriend) on the same day. We also had a group of boys (friends of ours) in the restroom filming the process and recording the conversations. The girls (I, Natalie and a friend) finally convinced the lecturers that we were ready to do their biddings.

 

So that afternoon we made sure they arrived separately in order to avoid them suspecting any activity.  It happened and as they got into the room the girls made sure they initiated conversations that were implicating enough. The lecturers of course fell for it and just about when they had gotten undressed, ready for action, the boys burst out and caught it on camera, took pictures and recorded videos.

 

I got an NGO that helps victims like me to assist with the next action! Well, to cut a long story short, the lecturers, reputable professors and a doctor were disgracefully sacked. Sexual harassment will not happen in a long time in that university that is for sure.

 

All these actions and the process cost Kelena and Natalie an extra year but they were not bothered because they were excited that they had left the university with their dignity intact. But this is the story of one girl - this is one scenario.  What about the people who are even more victimised when they try to speak out and the ones that have given in to these desires and still fail?

 

Let us look at the possible effects sexual harassments have on people like Kelena. Do not forget the process of Kelena's sexual harassment started since her first week in the university. She had been prone to a number of psychological effects ranging from frustration, anxiety, fear to feeling irritated when advances are made to her from even ‘normal’ people. She may have feared retaliation and victim-blaming. The other effects she may have experienced are:

 

  • Being objectified and humiliated by scrutiny and gossip.                                                                          
  • Defamation of character and tainted reputation.                                                                                                        
  • Loss of focus.                                                                                                                                                       
  • Becoming publicly sexualised.                                                                                                                      

 

Kelena’s life came under public scrutiny - the victim became the accused. What she wore, her lifestyle and private life came under attack. But this hardly happens to the perpetrator of the crime whilst anxiety, frustration, depression, sleeplessness and/or nightmares, difficulty concentrating, headaches, fatigue, shame and guilt, loss of self esteem, isolation, suicidal thoughts and attempts become the order of the day for the victims.

 

These and more are the aftermath of what Kelena and victims like her could suffer in the long run.

 

 

Let us consider the consequences of this case on Kelena's university                                                       

The school suffers disruption in its usual activity and there is a reduced productivity in the school and the students will lack motivation to learn.      

Diminished reputation that may impair efforts to attract, recruit and retain students, faculty and staff.                                                                                                                                                                        

A lot of time would be spent by the university staff to respond to complaints investigators and lawyers.                                                                                                                                                             

The university will spend great amounts of money on back pay, attorney fees, and also could lose financial benefits.  The university might also have to pay for compensatory and punitive damages.

 

But there is the other side of the coin                                                                                                          

Sexual harassment in universities is mostly viewed from the randy male lecturers’ angle, little is spoken of female students deliberately seducing male lecturers mainly for better grades.  Apart from the direct advances, lecturers also complain that they feel harassed when females walk into their office in provocative dresses that show off cleavages and other sensitive body parts.

 

Sexual harassment always produces a ripple effect whenever it occurs. Individuals directly involved are affected by the emotional, physical and often financial repercussions of sexual harassment and the ripple effects extend to others too – co-workers, classmates, friends and family members can also be hurt.

 

These tips can help make it stop.

 

JUST SAY STOP!If you can, tell the person to stop. State clearly and firmly that you want a particular behaviour to cease. This is not a time to be polite or vague. Consider the possibility that the harasser may not realise that a particular behaviour is offensive.

 

Get information and support. If you feel you cannot speak up, talk with the schools counseling unit for further help and guidance. These people can provide support and advice about the schools policy and procedures, and can help to resolve the problem.

 

Write to the harasser. This can often succeed in stopping sexual harassment. Include a factual account of the offending behavior, describe how you felt about it, and state simply that you want that particular behavior to stop. Keep the letter polite, low-key and factual.

 

If the message is to work, it must be a private communication between the persons involved, so don't send a copy to anyone else, but be sure to keep a copy for yourself. Typically, you won't have a response to your letter, but the troubling behaviour will stop right away. Keep records or a journal and save any letters, e-mail, or notes you have about the situation if the harassment persists. Record dates, places, times, witnesses and the nature of the harassment—what was said when, and how you responded.

 

We all have a collective responsibility to provide a work and learning environment free of sexual harassment, the university's leaders must be proactive in preventing sexual harassment and responding in a timely and effective manner to allegations of sexual harassment. Action taken by individuals in notable positions of authority such as deans, human rights activists even Vice Chancellors is pivotal to the determination of legal liability when law suits or complaints are filed with federal or state enforcement agencies.

 

This piece aims to shed light on this ignored crime going on in campuses around the world. It demoralises women and poses a threat on their dignity. The story about Kelena is a story that’s true and relatable for many Nigerian undergraduates.  Stop Sexual Harassment in Universities! Spread the word!

       

#StopSexualHarassmentInUni  

      

By Chidera Okehi.

 

sexual harrassment

 

Sexual Harassment can be said to be an unwanted sexual attention or behaviour which negatively affects the work or learning environment. In some cases, this occurs when a person in a position of power uses that influence to force a subordinate into providing sexual favours. The imbalance of power creates a situation in which the subordinate cannot freely say no. In many instances, the behaviour of sexual nature creates an intimidating atmosphere in the learning environment which ultimately disrupts a person’s ability to learn. These kinds of sexual behaviours may be in form of: Sexual touching and/or suggestive looks, gestures and sounds.  

                                                                  

In (Nigerian) universities today, sexual harassment has somewhat become a norm.  It happens daily and its impact is growing at an alarming rate! The social issue has become a part of the undisciplined minds of both the perpetrators of the act and the victims. These victims succumb to this act for many reasons like:                                                                                                       

- They have no one to help them out of the situation.      

 - The student can be threatened with carry-overs and eventually an extra year.                                    

 - They succumb to peer pressure – 'everyone is doing it' and so on.                                                           

- Many students do not have the courage to say no and are victimised when they do.

 

This is KELENA'S story: a victim of sexual harassment.

“I got inappropriate sexual advances from the first week of resumption as a diploma student in the university,” Kelena said.

Kelena narrates her first encounter with her first harasser: ' After a wonderful lecture, I thought what a wonderful way to end the week. I sat on the first front row of the class and the lecturer was still discussing with a student as everyone started leaving the class. When I was about to leave, it was just the lecturer, the student and I that were left in the class.

 

The lecturer suddenly asked - ‘Did you enjoy the class?’ I turned back with a smile and quickly replied, ‘Yes, Doctor! He continued to engage me in a discussion as we descended the stairs. He asked other questions and eventually asked me to follow him to his office where we had a little chat. He started being flirty but I ignored these signs because I was just really excited! I was talking to my lecturer and I already told myself I could meet him for recaps after lectures and he could be my school father.... I was only 16! After our talk, he let me go and told me I could visit anytime I wanted. I was even more excited.    

                                                                     

But the next encounter left me numb. While in his office, he came close to me, squeezed my breasts roughly and went to lock his door. I had become petrified. At that moment, I was scared to my pants but I knew I had to think fast! A thought struck me immediately.

 

‘Doctor it looks like I’m going to be here for long,’ I’d said with a bold and smiling face. I still wonder how I had pulled that off with all the fear in me. Then I’d told him, I wanted to tell my friend waiting for me outside, not to wait for me anymore. He’d laughed as I approached the door, hitting my butt. ‘Good girl!’ he’d said. That was how I’d escaped.

 

Immediately, I left his office, I heaved a deep sigh of relief. I was perplexed because I never believed such could ever happen to me in my second week in the university and especially because I was always modestly dressed. I ran to an isolated place to cry, I did not tell anyone because I was ashamed. I stayed away from him as much as possible. I hardly attended his lectures and even when I did, I occupied the back seats (a position I hated). Luckily, I passed that lecturer’s course. That situation passed by but in my second year, I got more advances from lecturers as well.  Again, I rebuffed them.

 

In my third year, I had a friend whom we attended lectures together. During this year, we both got advances from lecturers. It got to a point that my friend, Natalie had lied to her harasser that she was a lesbian and I was her partner. Of course, this story spread like wild fire and we were safe for the rest of the academic year.

 

I was unaware that I was still about to face my most difficult challenge yet. In the final year in university, it’s only natural that you come in closer contact with your project supervisor, course adviser, and other lecturers. So by default, you have to constantly visit these people’s offices for different purposes. 

 

In my case, 90% of these people that were to guide me to graduation were male. I became even more modest in dressing when going to their offices, avoided eye contact, ensured I did not go to their offices at late hours and observed many precautionary measures to avoid giving out a wrong signal.  

 

Sadly, all my hard work did not pay off as two lecturers kept pestering me for sex; my supervisor and another lecturer from an entirely different department. It was easy to stay away from the one not in my department but it was impossible to stay away from my supervisor. I thought it was business as usual with my supervisor (I could keep stalling till I had nothing to do with him anymore), but it was not....

 

Read Part 2 here...

By Chidera Okehi

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