UniIlorin rarely courts publicity.
During my service year in 2008, the most outstanding trait of their crop of graduates was prompt mobilization for the mandatory national youth service scheme. That, coupled with their hitch-free academic calendar free from the ghoulish evil clutches of ASUU/internal strikes bedeviling most fresh graduates from public universities.
But like the Yòrùbá adage goes, “ōmō ōsàn ló’n kó pómpó bá ìyá rè”, loosely translated as ‘it is the orange that attracts the club to the orange tree’. Captain Walz has brought headlines to the conservative university.
The furore generated over an undergraduate physically assaulting his erstwhile lecturer with malicious intent is at worst another fodder for blogs and news outlets to milk and at best an opportunity for the university system to make some positive adjustments in their modus operandi.
As expected, the vast majority of readers would react emotionally to the situation and most would weigh in on this matter with opinions colored by deep-seated sentiments while an infinitesimal few can look at this occurrence objectively.
First, let us state the facts of the case:
- Captain Walz missed his SIWES training.
- He missed the SIWES due to yet unverified claims that he was arrested and detained for two months while in Lagos.
- He approached the lecturer in charge for a waiver on sympathetic grounds that he was detained.
- As at the time of his claimed arrest, he was creating a public nuisance by peeing in a wrong place. (he probably peed on a freshly washed car which triggered a mob action before the police “came to his rescue”.) “Rescue” because he could have been set ablaze by the mob had the event occurred in Ikorodu or Ajegunle.(This is Lagos we’re talking about).
- He infuriated his lecturer and made illegal demands from her within the confines of her office space.
- She threw a mug at him. (100% chances are it’s a ceramic mug)
- She hit her target. (The average office space of Nigerian lecturers is scarcely bigger than a street barbershop so she definitely couldn’t miss.)
- He reacted in anger and vented all his pent-up frustration and rage on her. He physically assaulted and battered her from her office down the hallway and chased after her with intent to harm or maim her.
- He finally returned to his senses after security operatives accosted and possibly beat him blue and black.
To start with, his actions are totally condemnable and inexcusable albeit a very sharp reflection of the present-day society where unruly, rude and uncouth behaviour is rewarded with applause as in the case of Tacha and Maria of Big Brother fame.
However, we must not be quick to overlook the fact that in most tertiary institutions most lecturers operate a master-slave relationship and act like demi-gods ruling the affairs of undergrads with iron fists. They often fail students on whimsical grounds like dressing or involvement in student politics. Abuse of power is rife with only a smidgen scapegoat popping up once a while. This trend spills down even to secondary schools where some teachers like tin gods intimidate bright students that have the guts to ask questions beyond the scope of their presumed knowledge.
This too is an offshoot of how the larger society works but is no justification for this form of unwarranted violence.
In Captain Walz’s case, it is important to note that his initial action is not a typical behaviour expected of the image we now see him. He pleaded not to have his CGPA depleted by the impending carryover but would rather register it as a fresh course. Everyone knows the severe negative consequences and limitations of graduating with a light CGPA.
Of all the reactions awash the social media, Joe Igbokwe’s was the most troubling.
As earlier implied, the occurrences in tertiary institutions are a fraction of the larger society where every little human with a weapon takes on the sadistic personality of vindictiveness and inevitable power abuse. How can you think banishing a student from partaking in the outdated substandard education the nation offers is in any way a solution to the student’s problem? And this is coming from an “elderly statesman”!
In Nigeria, we typically use sledgehammers to kill mosquitoes and the guillotine to cure headaches.
Let me borrow from the experience of a friend who recently flunked an interview in the UK from a big 5 company. The HR reached out to him and apologized for not selecting him and outlined his errors during the interview. He tried again a few weeks later and got the same job. If you can name ten (10) companies that can do that in Nigeria, I’ll eat my hat. They do this because they genuinely care about the mental health and wellbeing of everyone and desire you to flourish not flounder.
Which brings us to Captain Walz’s behaviour.
On the two instances mentioned in Lagos and the hallowed grounds of Unilorin, the same guy has exhibited traits that demand prompt mental evaluation but like the serial abusers most of us are, we’d be more satisfied with meting out corporal punishment than helping him find a solution to his obvious anger and other underlying issues.
There are 4 escalating stages of anger which are:
- The buildup
- The spark
- The explosion
- The aftermath.
The logical thing in a sane society is to first take him in for corrective mental evaluation, UDS or toxicology before any form of punitive action takes place. It is also important to note that the punitive actions should not in any way trigger depression or spur suicidal thoughts (we have had one too many).
It is crassly myopic of us to not project the impending backlash any extreme action will have on the lecturer’s life and immediate family.
With the present state of Captain Walz’s predicament it is safe to say he has nothing more to lose than his life. In the absence of any effective Witness Protection program, we are only jeopardizing the life of Mrs. Zakariyau unnecessarily if the words of Uncle Joe Igbokwe in his own contribution to the public discourse are anything to go by.
Our present-day society is filled with dejected wrecks, many walking time bombs the likes of Captain Walz who are terribly frustrated with the skewed system and are merely waiting for a trigger, a tiny spark to explode and wreak havoc on anyone careless enough to inflame their incendiary.
I’m all for carrying your cross if you get caught crossing the line so if and when he’s done his time he should be made to conclude the SIWES and graduate as a sign of the magnanimity of the academic institution whose responsibility is not only that of imparting knowledge but also moulding lives.
In conclusion, like I’d always opine, there are always three sides to a story: yours, mine and all that lies between.
‘Diran Adelayi is available on Twitter via @ZeusHydracop