By Alex Enemanna
The viral TikTok video of a young lady who claimed to have successfully completed her academic sojourn at Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Imo State, through the help of God and her private organ, has activated the sainthood in us. This has led many conservative critics to call for her head, while the liberal ones just stop at hurling her with avalanche of abuses and very unprintable names.
While it is your right to express disdain at her choice of route in attaining her academic feat, what is more paramount however is that being a “grajet” (in her own word) is a status symbol in our society where so much premium is placed on paper qualification than the actual capacity and intellectual strength of the one parading the certificate. So, being qualified for the award of HND in whatever course she may have read, primarily confers on her the bragging right, then whatever questions you may raise can come later.
Again, she merely stated the obvious. “It can only be God” is a clear acknowledgement that divinity gave her a backing while a critical part of her body also played a role in the successful completion of the 4-year sojourn which after all may have over-stretched as a result of the incessant industrial actions by academic workers in our tertiary institutions.
It is not surprising that everyone, including fairweather critics are gloating in self-righteousness and imaginary sainthood; making it look like the world has only one sinner — Okereafor Ogechi Sharon – and probably Satan who is usually the whipping boy or (is it girl) for all our predicaments, including the self-inflicted ones. Like the proverbial ostrich, we have feigned ignorance of the phrase “sex-for-grades” which indeed is a hydra-headed monster in our institutions of higher learning that has perennially remained unaddressed. The notorious UNILAG cold room where lecturers meet to have the other room treatment with female students and admission seekers is still fresh in our memory.
As someone rightly captured it, the “puxx anatomy” is a 20 unit course in our public institutions which the lecturers and the students take advantage of. The army of saints on social media calling for Sharon’s head cannot thumb their chest in adulation on how they have maintained a clean bill of record all their life.
Parents who procure grades for their children lack morals to cast a stone on the private organ graduate. Students who pay bribes through cash or kind like the Nekede student, just to pass their exams have no business condemning her for her action. Someone even said parents now offer teachers unsolicited gifts to give their children in secondary schools favourable grades. Even those planning to sell their voting rights for a mess of pottage in the upcoming elections are not in any way different. Those who cut corners in whatever form it is to achieve “success” in life should not join the mob crucifying the young lady who stressed nothing but the obvious.
We live in a society where people must have a connection, money or ready to let go of something to get anything and everything done. We are all witnesses to how job-seekers pay huge sums of money for an employment opportunity that may never come. The female ones will tell you stories that will dot your skin with goose pimples. We live in an environment where people bribe to have ordinary things such as voter card, national identity card and international passport done. Even in construction sites, the engineer will consider those who speak his language in his choice of daily workers, relegating competency to the background which is a general problem confronting our country.
Many families will joyfully trade off their ancestral land to bribe in order to secure visas for their loved ones to “japa” if it is the only window of opportunity left, yet no one vilifies them. Imagine people standing before a congregation of worshippers to give testimony, of “what the Lord has done”, then shortly before dropping the microphone you hear, “thank God for my bribe”. Of course you will not hear that, but does it exonerate the fact that a lot of murky waters pass under the bridge to birth many success stories we hear? Everyday, we hear of embargoes on employment in public service, at the same time you see new staff everyday, many of them family members and friends of those in power, or those who can bribe their way in. Who is not aware of this?
Who has not been affected by the monstrous fuel scarcity that has crippled people’s daily activities; making citizens susceptible to giving anything, just to drive in and buy fuel for their mobility and domestic use? What about the poorly implemented new Naira notes circulation policy currently holding our nation by the jugular and gradually snowballing into an unrest? It takes those who have friends and relatives working in the deposit money banks (DMBs) to walk in and withdraw the new notes and go. The rest are left to give bribe or throw punches at the ATM queues in search of new Naira notes they are not sure of getting. Before now, we talk of people not having money in their account to withdraw, but now we are dealing with a situation where people will have funds in their accounts but cannot access it, while their families starve.
The army of overnight saints who want to dance in the market square with Sharon’s head should further engage in soul searching before drawing their dagger. The simple fact that she openly revealed her own means of killing a rat does not make her chief sinner over the rest of us. It is hypocritical and amounts to living in self-denial to pontificate round the city with a robe appearing as white as snow but the underneath is a den of filth. You don’t travel in devil’s way and expect to arrive at God’s destination.
We have a deep rooted challenge on our hand which the lady in question only signposts as a symptom. When you are down with malaria, do you go about treating lack of appetite, high body temperature or whatever your own symptoms are? You attack from the root by launching treatment on the ailments.
We have a system where the young population has continued to bear the brunt of agelong disorientated and distorted arrangement where all man is for himself and God for us all. We have an environment where the plum jobs are reserved for the children and cronies of the elite while the rest of us queue endlessly for employment positions that have already been filled. The youths are usually at the receiving end of poorly thought out and satanically implemented policies like that of the new Naira notes at the moment.
When we vote those who will turn a deaf ear while the security forces maul down the people in extra-judicial killing, who are those at the receiving end? The youths. The #EndSARS protest and the orgy of bloodletting that characterised it will for a long time stick to our memory.
In as much this intervention does not justify or support the attainment of success through criminal and dubious means, including questionable trading of one’s pride, a holistic look into the system from top to bottom will wean us of our judgemental wig. Sharon’s action is not why thousands of graduates walk the streets for years in search of livelihood, she is not why several families are on 0-0-1 feeding formula, she is not responsible for our burgeoning out-of-school children currently put at about 20 million by UNESCO, neither can she be held responsible for the helplessly depleting value of the Naira.
Cheeringly, the coming elections have presented us with fresh opportunity to be deliberate with our choice of leadership recruitment. Those who have frittered our goodwill in the past and used our mandate to feather their nests and that of their families should not be rewarded with re-election. We have had it from bad to worse in the past 24 years since return of democracy; both at the state and federal level, since the governors have phased the local governments out of existence.
We as the cheated and marginalised young Nigerians must take our destiny into our hands by exhibiting our resilience at the polls for the interest of our future and generations to come. That is where we should commit our energy instead of wasting it criticising a victim of a dysfunctional system like Sharon and millions of others.
Enemanna, an Abuja-based journalist writes from [email protected]