Conversation with “Incorruptible” Lecturer who Resigned – Part 1

Conversation with “Incorruptible” Lecturer who Resigned – Part 1
The headline of this post is inspired by ‘’The Incorruptible Judge”, a play written by D. Olu Olagoke. It was published in 1962. The play narrates the ordeal of Ajala, a graduate whose excellent records in school were not enough to secure him a job on merit. In the midst of unemployment, Ajala passed through undue moral challenges, while trying to fend for himself and his poor family.

His application to the Government Development Department as a Third Class Clerk leads him to Mr James Agbalowomeri, an Establishment Officer, who insists on getting “kola” rather than qualification, as a condition for employing him. “Kola” is euphemism for bribery. As instructed by the Police, Ajala offered marked currency notes to Mr Agbalowomeri and signaled Detective Seargeant Okoro, the moment the bribe was accepted.

Funnily, Mr Agbalowomeri swallowed the marked currency notes, when Seargeant Okoro entered his office to apprehend him. He denied that he had collected any money. Ordinarily, kola can be easily swallowed and digested. But currency notes cannot be easily chewed and digested. Those notes led to Mr Agbalowomeri’s disgrace.

When that case got to court, Mr Agbalowomeri attempted to bribe Justice Faderin who was assigned to try the case. He offered cash and a bottle of whiskey to Justice Faderin through his friend, Mr Duroayo, Justice Faderin’s father in-law. However, Justice Faderin refused to collect the bribe, despite pressure from family and tribe.

Instead, he said: “If the citadel of justice is corrupt, what will happen to the body politics? It will be completely rotten and collapse”. Thus, Justice Faderin sentenced Mr Agbalowomeri to 3 years imprisonment with hard labor, without an option of fine. That sentence was meant to deter others from following Mr Agbalowomeri’s bad example. In summary, “The Incorruptible Judge” shows that a judge should be a judge in title and in character.

Unfortunately, not much has changed in Nigeria, since “The Incorruptible Judge’’ was published. Reports of corrupt and perverse practices by public officers still abound. However, there are people who are as incorruptible as “The Incorruptible Judge”, in this country. It is necessary to showcase them, wherever they exist.

Consequently, LinCornellah’s blog deems it fit to begin 2018 by posting a report on the incorruptible actions of Mr Anthony Bisong Attah, a native of Etomi community in Etung Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Mr Attah blazed a trail in the social media when he posted his letter of resignation as a Lecturer in College of Education, Akamkpa, Cross River State. He shared that letter on Facebook and Whatsapp, respectively. The letter leveled allegations of corruption against the Management of College of Education, Akamkpa. It stated:

“A college that is meant to be a citadel of learning has dramatically nosedived into a theatre of absurdities. Academic standard is at its lowest as results are now for the highest bidder. Corruption has assumed a new dimension in the college”.

Mr Attah submitted that: “Ordinarily, I would have chosen to be quiet like most of my colleagues but the danger confronting the future of our students groomed under this academic condition has denied my conscience the luxury of introversion. I am therefore constrained to disengage my services from the college forthwith since I can no longer work under a harsh intellectual firmament”.

Mr Attah believes that a lecturer should be judged by his character, just as we judge Justice Faderin by his integrity.

Although I have not heard any public reaction on that much publicized letter from the Management of College of Education Akamkpa, I regard the letter as the social media’s most startling letter of 2017, in Nigeria’s education sector. Thus, I felt obliged to get in touch with Mr Attah to hear specific details about the letter,  as well as to know about him.

When I met him, we had a long conversation that led to this first part of my report on him. He made several startling disclosures and raised an alarm that should serve as food for thought. Among other things, he said:

“Higher institutions are supposed to be hospitals for people to get intellectual revival. But they have become mortuaries for those who are intellectually dwarf to be killed and buried.”

Please read on:

Who are you and what background gave you the courage to resign from your job as a Lecturer, despite the glamour of that job?

I prefer calling myself Comrade. I am Comrade Anthony Bisong Attah. I come from Etomi Community in Etung Local Government Area. I grew up there and attended primary and secondary school there. It would interest you to know that from my humble beginning, if there is a word I really hate, it is ‘Corruption’.

Sometimes, people have approached me to say ‘Ah, this your letter of resignation, is it a new turf, a new thinking. Is it a sudden decision?’ That is why I appreciate this face-to-face conversation with you, so that my resignation would be put in a right perspective when people perceive me against the background of where I come from. I was the Senior Prefect of my secondary school, Community Secondary School, Etomi, Etung. I started fighting injustice right from then.

As Senior Prefect, at the time when we were about writing WAEC, I was asked to meet 170 students to pay about 450 naira each, for the school authority to show us our WAEC. I did not only turn down that offer but I promised to fight against them. At a point, the school authority asked me not to pay but to persuade my mates to pay. I turned down that offer.

Even when some sympathetic teachers offered to show me, I turned them down. This was when I was about 17 years old. It got to a point where I had to walk out all the teachers that were coming to exams hall to read for students. It was that serious.

In addition, I cautioned the External Examiner never to interfere negatively with the conduct of that exam. The External Examiner was a lady. I threatened to report her. At a point, she said, ‘Who is this person?’ Everybody said, ‘This guy? Forget him.’ Because of me the atmosphere in that exam changed positively.

Even when I went to collect my result, the school authority said they had a list of those who paid and those who didn’t pay that money. They said that I didn’t pay and so, I would not see my result. But I told them that,

‘If I leave this place, I would report you and return with security operatives to collect my result.’ So, they begged me and released my result. With God on my side, my result was the only clean result in the entire school. That was in 1997.

Thereafter, I left to do IJMB in Akamkpa in 1998. It became my first foray into the College of Education in Akamkpa, where the IJMB programme was running. I spent a few months there and proceeded to the University of Calabar.

I give credit to the Department of History and International Studies where I studied, for being relatively thorough. I didn’t come under any influence to lobby any lecturer. I scaled through that department in 2002 and proceeded to do my Masters in Benue State University.

That University is very thorough. You have a lot of explanation to give if you even attempt to give money to a lecturer. To spare yourself that hurdle, you don’t even need to offer bribe to anybody. I consider that encounter as a worthy feather to my academic cap. I am back to the University of Calabar where I am rounding off my doctorate program.

I started lecturing in Akamkpa in 2012. Before then, I never applied to work anywhere in Cross River State. This is partially because I am an entrepreneur. I like business. One thing about me is that I don’t like any corrupt interference in my life. I have a conscience that is very open.

Like Uthman Dan Fodio said, ‘Conscience is an open wound. Only truth can heal it.‘ For this reason, I refuse to take responsibilities that would impede on my honesty. In the midst of all these, I have always had a passion for academics. This made me to apply for the position of Lecturer at the College of Education, Akamkpa. My application was successful, to God’s glory.

Please, watch out for part 2 of the conversation, where Mr Attah gave specific details of what led him to resign from his job.

Cornelius Ellah
Twitter: @lin_cornellah
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah

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