Concerned by the increasing incidence of corruption in higher institutions, Youth Alive Foundation embarked on a survey on the prevalent corrupt practices in higher institutions in Akwa Ibom State.

The survey was part of activities for the organization’s ongoing Youth Participation Against Corruption (YPAC) project, in Nigerian higher institutions.

Presenting the findings of the survey at a press briefing on Friday at Watbridge Hotels Uyo, Kingsley Atang, Programs Lead at Youth Alive Foundation, said the YPAC project was a result of the organization’s commitment towards strengthening the participation of Nigerian youths, especially students, in the anti-corruption war.

He noted that the survey revealed prevalent corrupt practices across all segments as Cultism (66%), Exam malpractices (54%), Sorting (53%), Bribery (34%), Stealing/Looting (26%), of which students were mostly engaged in cultism (37%), while for the Non-academic staff it was mainly bribery/extortion (39%) of which money for marks was highest at 45%.

Although 59% of the student respondents revealed their unwillingness towards reporting corrupt practice for fear of victimization, more than half of the students generally believed that the organized student bodies were not doing their parts.

33% of the respondents suggested that those caught in the act be rusticated/expelled, 15% suggested that more trained/equipped security personnel be deployed to campuses, while 9% suggested that mentioned that external bodies be set up to check the excesses of members of staff and that reorientation programs be carried out through enlightenment campaigns across the institutions.

He added that in a bid to address these corrupt practices, Youth Alive Foundation had engaged stakeholders meetings, with representatives of the University of Uyo management, Student Affairs, as well as student bodies, in attendance.

“This stakeholders meeting has produced commitment from the University of Uyo management towards addressing many of the issues raised. Particularly, they have indicated commitment to institute a sexual harassment policy for the University, as well as increased awareness on reporting mechanisms”, he said.

He also revealed that the YAF was in partnership with Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and other bodies such as the Peace on Campus Initiative (PCI), School to School Initiative (SPI), as well as the Students Anticorruption Vanguard (SAV), Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) established by ICPC, to facilitate the fight against corruption on campus.

“YAF has established student groups such as SITI (Strengthening Integrity in Tertiary Institutions) in higher institutions and Integrity Clubs in Secondary Schools. Currently, SITI is active at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State University and Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, while our Integrity Clubs are operational in 9 secondary schools. We are also working on extending this to more institutions in the state”, he said.

Atang also urged institutions to do more in ensuring that strict laws and punitive measures are put in place to instill fear and deter culprits from continuing these practices and also to assure students that their safety and fundamental rights are top priority.