By Okechukwu Nwafor
Recently, a professor in the University of Calabar and University of Uyo known as Professor Peter Ogban was sentenced to three years imprisonment for falsifying the 2019 election results in favour of Senator Godswill Akpabio. It is known that Akpabio eventually lost the election.
This judgement reveals Nigeria as a nation historically defined by brazen impunity and perversion. It exposes the lopsidedness of justice in Nigeria: the Professor who rigged election for Akpabio goes to jail while Akpabio is venerated and compensated with juicy appointments in Abuja. Two irreconcilable episodes that continue to ridicule our moral commitment to change.
The viral news further erodes the modicum of public faith Nigerians have for that enviable title of professorship. As professors at the center of public scorn, for the infamous escapade of rigging elections for politicans, the news of Prof Ogban’s imprisonment sounds like a double-barrel attack.
Someone said that the Prof fell from Grace to grass but I wish to disagree. I will rather argue that the professor was already lying on the grass ab initio. He only fell from grass into the mud.
The profound moral lesson contained in this judgement is that professors must retrace their steps. They must work hard to regain that public trust and respect.
What is the overarching implications of the news of Prof Ogban’s imprisonment even in our own institution? We are currently in the midst of many elections: both Deanship, Council and Cooperative elections. How have we demonstrated that we are better than professor Ogban? With widespread news of innappropriate excapades embarked upon by our professors in a desperate bid to win elections can we beat our chests and say that we respect that sacrosanct ideals for which the Irory Tower is known for? Are we guilty of similar offences as that of Prof Ogban? This is food for thought. Conscience, they say, is an open wound, only Truth will heal it. May God help us.
The next lecture will be on the politics of the gift and the moral economy of the gift.