The Last Don By Lucky Tega Taire

Rarely in my life has a man given me such pain by his mere cruelty as Dr. Matins. (Real name withheld). He held my score sheet in his hands determined to calculate my GPA to the last figure. I walked behind this dreaded, cold blooded lecturer from one office to another,from one house to the other like a ‘new year Ram’ whose fate was already decided. I did not understand why Dr. Matins chose to take a special interest in calculating my grade points average. It was supposedly the HOD’s job to do. And I learnt he was not delegated to do it.  After about three days of loitering around the campus, waiting eagerly for the outcome of my scores, Dr. Matins finally handed me my GPA. And in a few bewildering moment my whole life was transformed.

As tears rolled down my eyes I asked him why I scored terribly low marks in all his courses. These were courses I had dedicated so much time studying and which I had continued to carry over from 200 levels until I had an extra year. I went straight to see my project supervisor who had scored me a B and on my GPA score sheet I was gazing at a D. He explained to me how Dr. Matins took a special interest in my case and challenged him to reduce my project score by giving frivolous reasons. 

After series of inquisition from departmental staff and from some of my friends very close to him my sins became known to me. They said Dr. Matins claimed I took his girlfriend. The very beautiful fair complexioned girl in my department whom I often hung around with. A girl I never had any sexual relationship with. They said Dr. Matins had sworn with his life to deal with me for my audacity. I have forgiven Dr. Matins and understandably so. It was with shock the news of his passing away hit me.

I was told he battled a strange illness for many months while simultaneously serving a suspension order from the university authority. Years after I graduated, agirl in the department challenged her low scores claiming that Dr. Matins wanted sex for good grades. A bini parable would have it that there is a species of plant so sweet that the goat would not resist eating and always eventually kills the goat.

There are hundreds of Dr. Matins in our tertiary institutions today, lecturers with disheartening impunity tearing down the dreams of young men and women for selfish and trivial reasons. I would not do this article without asking questions. It is far over two decades I graduated from the University. I was terrified from the responses I received from various persons currently studying in tertiary institutions here in Nigeria. Some of the confessions and claims of female students I engaged are unprintable. 

It calls for an urgent and immediate overhauling of our Ivory towers. Giving low marks to students deserving a high score is bad enough but scoring a student high, the one who had no business coming to the university at all is a national disaster. I confronted two university lecturers I met very often at a bar with these issues. Their anger showed the highest form of rascality in the form of defense. Their action further reinstated the facts that present day universities lecturers have assumed the position of gods on campus in order to harass girls for sex and make the male students to pay for underserved scores. And the latter is called ‘blocking’, a terminology well understood by every Nigerian student who graduated from a Nigerian University in the last 30 years. It is the process of paying lecturers directly or through class governors an agreed fee for marks and the females in the place of money offer sex. 

A student in one of the state owned universities narrated to me the case of a female course mate who had never written a single examination and was on a comfortable grade point of 3.4. I do not in any manners here suggest that these universities lecturers have brought about the decaying standard in our education. For students who have no business being in the university at all, what these dubious lecturers helps in doing is to stamp authenticity on a parcel loaded with rubbish being sent to the labour market. 

The good news about this is that not all lecturers are involved in these disreputable acts. A sizeable number of them hold their heads up high and a greater number of these ‘no nonsense’ lecturers are from the old block. One hypothesis I was quick to embrace was that which had to do with the social economic background of present day universities lecturers. It postulates they were ‘triangular’ students in their days at school.

They had little or no social life. Inferiority complex and a humble economic background were attributed to be clearly responsible for this character deficit. And as soon as they became lecturers, they stood face to face with everything they could not have while as students; beautiful girls, reverence, money and when facilitated by a bad academic monitoring system then playing the role of gods on campus would be an easy ride. However there is no proof which shows that lecturers in earliest times were sons and daughters of millionaires many of whom make up the ‘old block’. Current economic situation and a complete absence of high moral values in our society today are also possible reasons for these behaviors among lecturers in Nigeria Universities.

A very valid hypothesis is the one attributed to the quest for ‘paper certificate’. And this is further reinforced by the demand for ‘first class’ or ‘second class upper division’ by the labor market. Open job interviews for all classes of degree and business will be off the table of these unscrupulous lecturers. If the university authorities would brace up to their own responsibility to set up secret monitoring systems, these lecturers would be weeded out in no time. The universities authorities in their characteristic manners wait for students to turn up complaints before swinging into action. Statistically thiswould happen in one out of a thousand cases. In 1996, myself and a couple of brave students came together to set up a secret monitoring agency. We did this in collaboration with the Chief Security Officer of the university. Our aim was to make sure that before violence came up among the feuding cult gangs, we informed the authorities. Thefeuding parties were called up and warned. And because of this simple act of bravery, there was never any killing or any incidence of violence until I left that institution.


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