By Ray Nkama
All over the world, the girl child and and woman are considered to be among the most vulnerable groups when it comes to sexual harassment and exploitation. The United Nations and other international interventionist bodies have continued to cry out against the different forms of sexual violence that these vulnerable groups have been subjected to over time. In developing climes like Africa, some of these aberrations have attained untamed dimensions largely as a result of multidimentional poverty which in itself is a concomitant effect of leadership failure across the continent. Most African leaders are more interested in political power than in the entrenchment of good governance and the building of strong institutions that will outlive them. It is against the backdrop of this misplaced orientation that African leaders have paved the leeway for all sorts of unimaginable problems to find their ways into the continent.
Sex for Grades is a product of a very poor and comatose value system which tries to justify it. Our collective folly of placing higher premium on academic certifications over skills and innate ability has become our greatest undoing. This is the reason you find that most of our graduates are unemployable; they have gone to tertiary institutions to acquire certificates that they cannot defend. And this is why our girls and women would trade their bodies for grades because, as they say, “the end justifies the means”. This jaundiced understanding of the Machiavellian principle has been greatly catalysed by ignorance and desperation. More so, it has remained a malignant social tumour that is eating away our collective reputation as black people.
In Nigeria where we have allowed ourselves to be polarised along ethnic, religious, political and sectional lines, it can only take decades of value reorientation before we can address some of the issues affecting our girls and women. This is so much so because, over the years, we have celebrated mediocrity and downgraded excellence. We have rewarded criminals and punished people of goodwill who carried intellectual substance. We have held innovators in low esteem and have praised imitators to high heavens. The future we ordered is now upon us and generations unborn. We must dance the macabre dance of the drumbeats we paid the monster to play for us.
How do we reconcile the sad fact that our girls and women would now have to sleep with their teachers before they can pass exams to the sordid reality that even ‘men of God’ are involved in this attitudinal malady. There have been cases of sports women who were dropped from tournamentcamps because they refused to open their legs for their coaches. Even the award of contracts is now a matter which woman is ready to play ball with those in charge.
Sex for Grades is only a miniature aspect of the totality of our collapsing value system. The problem is so severe that it requires concerted efforts to address. We must tackle certain social concerns like poverty, illiteracy, tribalism and sectionalism before we can get other issues right. We must begin to recognise and reward excellence and put an end to the practice of celebrating material wealth. We must compel our lawmakers to enact laws that would protect our girls, women and all other vulnerable groups. Our justice dispensation system must be without any form of partisanship so that criminality would be dealt the deadly blow.
We can achieve all of these if we are ready to change our individual mindsets and existential orientations. We can still attain greatness as a state or nation if we work collectively to build sound institutions that thrive on strong value and belief systems just as our amiable Governor Engr. David Umahi is doing through the office of the SA, Attitudinal Change. The mission is that no Ebonyi State indigene will be associated with criminality henceforth. None of our girl children and women will be caught trading sex for grades. And it is our un-monopolistic belief that all Nigerian states would share this mission by setting up value reorientation mechanisms within their territories to help in the war against the avalanche of social maladies that are crippling our youths, especially the girl children and women. The BBC SexForGrades documentary is only a tip of the iceberg. Their are many things wrong with the crawling lizard; only its belly can tell.
Ray Nkama is Special Assistant on Attitudinal Change to the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State.