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MY BAPTISM OF FIRE AS A ‘JAMBITE’ LECTURER AT IFE — Itse Sagay

MY BAPTISM OF FIRE AS A ‘JAMBITE’ LECTURER AT IFE — Itse Sagay

MY BAPTISM OF FIRE AS A ‘JAMBITE’ LECTURER AT IFE
— Itse Sagay

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The autobiography of Professor Itsejuwa Esanjumi Sagay (SAN)—Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Cor­ruption (PACAC) and former Dean of Law at the universities of Ife and Benin—was published recently. After earning his doctorate in International Law at Cambridge University in 1970, he returned to Nigeria to work as a lecturer at his alma mater, the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife). In the following excerpt from the book, he recounts an incident that he describes as a ‘baptism of fire for a “Jambite” lecturer’:

1

“There was only a single female student in my International Law class [at the University of Ife in 1971]. In those days, female students reading Law could be counted on the tip of the finger. I was not particularly familiar with this person. Of course, as my student, we had cordial relations with each other. International Law was a final-year optional subject; so this young lady was in her final year. She came to my office after I had marked and submitted the examination result sheet to the Dean and wanted to know how she performed. I checked my result sheet and found she had failed. She scored 38% if I can recall.”

II

“She was at the point of breaking down and I now had to start consoling her whilst regretting in my mind that I told her the truth about her performance. As her grief was becoming uncontrollable, I told her that the External Examiner, Professor [Taslim Olawale] Elias, Dean of Law, [University of Lagos] and Attorney-General of the Federation, had the last say and that all was not lost. To further improve her mood, I invited her to have dinner with me in my flat that evening and she gladly accepted.”

III

“We had the dinner during which I gave her a lot of pep talks just to revive her spirits. I then drove her back to the female hall, straight from the dining table. Apparently, as we were leaving my flat, another law lecturer colleague who was living in the opposite flat saw us and drove straight to the house of the Dean [of Law] to report me for hosting a female student whose paper I was either marking or had just marked. The next day, I was summoned to appear before the Dean and two other very senior lecturers, both of whom, with the Dean, had been my lecturers when I was a student in the faculty.”

IV

“I was charged with a serious infraction of examination conventions. I admitted the charge but explained exactly what really happened. Luckily for me, the result sheet was with the Dean. He checked it and confirmed that the lady had failed my subject. It was simply inconsistent with immoral conduct for a lecturer to fail a final-year student and then have an affair with her in a situation where he was helpless to change her circumstances. The Dean, Professor [Oluwole Idowu] Odumosu, quickly appreciated this and warned me not to be so naïve in future. I was lucky not to have had a written reprimand or panel trial.”

V

“When Professor Elias came in as External Examiner, he raised the lady’s score from my 38 to 40. With that, she graduated without any problem. I later discovered that the real brain behind my torment was one of my former lecturers [in the Faculty of Law]. The lecturer living opposite me was a young man like me. He did not rush directly to the Dean but went to report the matter to my former lecturer who took it upon himself to report it to the Dean, I was extremely shocked by this revelation because that old lecturer used to pretend that he liked me a lot. At the very least he should have sent for me.”

SOURCE:—I. E. Sagay, ‘All Will Be Well: The Autobiography of Itsejuwa Sagay’ (Ibadan: Safari Books Ltd, 2022) pp. 135-136.
– Via Nigeria Nostalgia Project 1960-1980

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