It’s no news that Nigerian Universities are the ghetto but what’s the specific experience of a Nigerian woman in Nigerian University? When I got the idea for this article, I wasn’t expecting any of the stories I received.
I went to grab dinner at a burger spot next to my school’s back gate with my friend. When we were done, a guy who also got food from there, tried to talk to me by saying as we were walking back to our hostel. I didn’t answer him because the streetlight by the back gate wasn’t on and there weren’t a lot of people around. Eventually, the guy gave up and we were relieved.
Next thing, another guy came down from a car and started calling after us. We were ignoring him as well when he said, “I don’t like how you ignored that guy back there, you should have given him an audience.” In my mind, I was wondering why I should stop to talk to a guy in a dark quiet place? This other guy kept following us saying that we were ill-mannered for not talking to the first guy. I had to answer him at some point to say that we didn’t know him so we weren’t interested in a conversation, especially as it was late. We picked our pace and he did too. He said that were running because we thought he wants to toast us but he just wants to preach the word of God. Then I said okay, preach, we don’t have to stand still for that. He got angry — he said that we are just unnecessarily proud, that we are not too special to talk to guys. He asked us who we think we are and that if the first guy came in a Benz, we would be all over him. The whole thing became scary because he was raising his voice and he refused to leave us alone. I started talking back to him. I told him to get lost that I didn’t know him and I didn’t care what he had to say. He said he knows my hostel and I act like I am so good I don’t shit.
At some point, I noticed the car he came down from was behind us, probably was trailing us since the whole thing started. He called us ugly and was about to leave when I said, “We are ugly but you’ve been embarrassing yourself by following us even when we ignored you.” He immediately turned back, he said, he is part of the Student Union Government and he was going to follow me to my hostel. He said he could get me kicked out the next day.
I was stupidly brave because I kept responding to him. I was ready to fight that night and I didn’t care what happened. I even started shouting thief, although a few people on the road looked and they didn’t do anything to help. He brought out his phone and started calling people telling them the story. We eventually got to my hostel and he actually tried reporting me to the porters on duty but we told them the truth — we didn’t know him and he followed her there. They asked him to leave and that was the last time I saw him. It was my worst night ever.
One time, I went to get my passport photo taken. There I saw the Public Relations Officer of my school’s Student Union Government and the president. I greeted the PRO because we were already acquainted — he had asked me out and I said no. That day, he introduced me to the President as his wife. I laughed about it and moved on. Later that night, the PRO called me to say he had something to tell me. We agreed to meet later that week.
There, he said he and the president need leverage against their fellow politician and they want to use me as bait. When I asked what he meant, he said they need me to get close to the guy in a way that I can get incriminating information that they can use against him because he had something he could use against them. He said they didn’t care what I had to do — sleep with him, get him drunk, whatever as long as I got what they needed. He said they will give me whatever I wanted.
I had initially planned to record the meeting but I forgot before I got there and I’m glad I did because he collected my phone to check if I was recording our conversation. My heart was pounding throughout that meeting. I told him I would think about it. When he called the next day, I said I wasn’t interested but I was scared they would try to harm me because I had their secret in my palms. I stopped walking around school, especially at night for a while.
In my first year, I had a male friend I was very close to. We had this lecturer that would come to class and separate us. I noticed that we got F’s in the courses he took. My friend eventually left the department but he would always move any other guy sitting with me away from me. Last semester, I saw him as I walking to class with another male friend and he asked, “What happened to your other husband?” I said, “Didn’t you chase him away?” and he said, “Oh so, this is the new one abi? I will chase him away soon.” That was the weirdest thing ever.
In my first year, I had a practical course where we had to use the school lab. One day, I fell an apparatus by mistake and the lecturer was angry. He asked what department I was in and when I said, Medicine and Surgery, he said “It can’t be or maybe the school made a mistake in your admission.” It was such a mean, wicked thing to say because I made a mistake.
In my third year, I went for an exam. At the exam venue, one of the invigilators was a lecturer in my department. Before that day, we had never had any interaction. That day he saw me and asked why he had never seen me in his class before. I said I attended all his classes so I don’t know why. He asked for my number and I gave him.
Days later he called me to meet up with him. At the meeting, he told me that a beautiful girl like me needs men like him to protect me in school. I had to lie that I already had a lecturer I was seeing to get him off my back. It was strange to me that he left me simply because I was supposedly involved with another man not because I wasn’t interested. I was only 20 at the time. I was really scared.
In my second year, I was training for basketball games in my department. One coach picked interest in me. He trained me and my friend for a while. One day, during training, the man and the hockey coach were watching us. Later they asked us to join the hockey team because they thought our stature fit the game and the coach needed players for the upcoming NUGA (Nigeria University Games Association) games. He took our numbers and names down.
During our first hockey training, the coach seemed more interested in training me than my friend. I didn’t think much of it until he texted me. In his messages, he wanted me to come and see him. He said he would adult nap me since I am not a child anymore. I told him I wasn’t interested and luckily, he backed off.