By Megan Valère Sossou
While many people work hard and even go the extra mile to achieve academic qualifications, there are those who prefer dishonest activities. Corruption, bribery, extortion, sexual harassment, and other forms of abuse are major problems that affect the quality of the higher education system, particularly on university campuses in African countries. This was shared during the session detailing various forms of corruption that plague campuses on the continent on the 11th day of the African Investigative Journalism Conference 2020 (AIJC2020) on Friday, October 16, 2020.
Facilitated by Oluwatosin Alagbe, Programme Director at Premium Times Centre for Investigate Journalism in Abuja, Nigeria, the session detailed three extensive investigations that involved fake degrees, sex for marks and phony professors exposed by three investigative journalists.
Luis Nhachote, an award-winning investigative journalist from Mozambique, uncovered a university professor with a fake degree following an extensive investigation that began with a Facebook tip-off. As he detailed the hurdles his team encountered during this investigation, including being denied access to information, he said, “There are a lot of incompetent people with fake degrees in universities and other high institutions in Mozambique.”
In her presentation, Kiki Mordi, an investigative journalist who has investigated many cases of sexual harassment in universities in Ghana and Nigeria, said institutions that are supposed to fight the scourge of corruption continue to be nests of sexual harassment. She added that even student associations remain silent once they are challenged on the issue. According to Mordi, “Young female students are preyed upon by professors and university authorities in exchange for good marks.”
Adekunle Yusuf, an associate editor at The Nation in Nigeria, agreed with Mordi that higher education suffers from a general climate of corruption in Nigeria. One of his investigations revealed that a staff member at a university used corruption to position himself as a rector at the institution.
“Our investigation contributed to his suspension. Unfortunately, he was placed on leave and continued to receive his salary.”
For Yusuf, corruption continues to prevail in all sectors of society in Nigeria, despite the nation’s president stressing that it is an evil that needs to be fought in developing countries because it undermines the development of African societies.
Following the hour-long session, Alagbe concluded that investigative journalism is the means to show the public the many aspects of corruption, sexual harassment, and related abuses. The speakers agreed that there was a need for continued investigations by journalists in campuses to unmask various forms of corruption that continue to take place in institutions of higher learning.
Watch the full conversation
About the author:
Megan Valère Sossou is a journalist, environmental analyst and an activist blogger for ecocitoyenstv.blogspot.com from Benin. He is an AIJC2020 fellow.