Fraternities Are Viruses in Nigeria: Part 2 – The Extortion


University campus grown fraternities (UCGFs) recently have as a rule and mode of evolution taken their preaching about government “badness” and their prescriptions of the “common good” to ever-dizzying heights. UCGFs have the fullest right to critique any part or aspect of the government it deems worth their while. However, when it comes to the corruption that happens within the realm of the government UCGFs are vocal. The UCGFs have to look at their wreckless yet systematic practices of corruption within the boundaries of their organisations. UCGFs are a sophisticated corruption virus in society.

The justification for the continuation of UCGFs is mainly fraud, extortion and corruption like any other criminal organisations. For a new member (rookie) joining a UCGF, he would spend between £600 and £1000 in the first year. This money covers a non-refundable application fee, an initiation fee, very shoddy regalia and berets and an annual subscription. The money, however, does not include the rookies’ compulsory attendance of weekly social gatherings where they sometimes have to pay for the food and drinks of older members and well as ferry them home should they have cars. Sponging of rookies is vile extortion but a staple practice in UCGFs.
Between 15-30% of the income of UCGFs comes from fines and dishonour penalties. The highest dishonour penalties involve a temporary expulsion of a member from the fraternity for a dishonourable act. Too many members though, get expelled for very honourable acts. The re-joining fee can be as high as £300, and many rejections would result in multiples of the sum required. For all the publicity about brotherhood and love within the UCGFs, individual clique members are shielded from these fines and penalties no matter how heinous their offences of dishonour are. Many innocent or well-meaning members get slammed most unjustly with exploitative practices. Where rebates are available to individual members, nepotism and favouritism are definitive determinants of the exception. They cannot even practice social justice within their ranks but preach and prescribe it to the world.
While most modern organisations pay one-off annual subscriptions from members, UCGFs insist on monthly subscriptions. The logic is simple; you can collect more money from members through twelve instalments than from one lump sum payment. The truth is many members cannot afford the ever-escalating costs of membership. Penalties of dishonour are always looming on members who cannot maintain payments, including some deceased (negligence born of money-grabbing) and others severely incapacitated by illness or injury. After all, these UCGFs persist to ruthlessly squeeze money out of members that would be appropriated by a few individuals.
The larger and older UCGFs have thousands of members at home (Nigeria) with many located in varying numbers around the world. Their international executives can receive more than $1 million a year from extorting members with increasingly innovative practices that see members contribute ever-larger sums of money. The alarming part is that the funds collected are subject to unaccountable uses. Amounts of money bequeathed to the organisation by individuals and organisations are mostly kept very secret. Rapacious theft in high places within UCGFs is constant, and the battle for leadership gets increasingly fiercer as the chest of money swells. Ironically, the larger the sums of money collected, the emptier the accounts become. It is an incredible observation. If the UCGFs have to produce reports of their income and expenditure by law, any competent forensic accountant would see the plethora of accounting falsehoods. Is that not corruption?
Funding sought from international bodies to fund their “humanitarian goals” is their most desired financial ambition. Dreams of the days when a UCGF gets millions of dollars annually in funding are very vivid and expected in the minds of those who run the fraternities. The thoughts of driving jeeps, working from plush offices, frequent international travel, lots of spare cash, all from charitable funding are so real to them members can sense it physically. Inevitably, some of the funding has found its way to UCGFs, but can they adequately account for it? An audit of such accounts would immediately put them on a funding donors’ blacklist. A trial will convince you.
So what purpose does the lamentations of corruption in Nigeria by UCGFs serve? Since President Buhari came into office, many corruption scandals and prosecutions are in evidence. At the end of these scandals and indictments, it is worth noting that a sizeable number of UCGF members across the country are guilty in the corruption of the day. They might even be sent to the slammer if justice reigns. UCFGs should lament their corruption and the corruption of their members in public office before lamenting about corruption in society. It would be wise for UCGFs to set-up their versions of EFCC within their ranks to curb the rapacious and flagrant corruption/economic crimes they are internally riddled. Then let them tell the public how they were able to curb corruption in their organisations.
Charity begins at home. Corruption also starts at home. UCGFs does not have the charity to give to the world. All they have to offer is corruption and scams sold with good public relations. UCGFs have gone viral.


Grimot Nane

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