Fraternities Are Viruses in Nigeria: Part 2


University campus grown fraternities (UCGFs) recently have as rule and mode of evolution taken their preaching about government “badness” and their prescriptions of “good” to ever-dizzying heights. UCGFs have the fullest right to critique any part or aspect of government it deems worth critiquing. However, when it comes to the question of corruption that happens within the realm of government UCGFs have to take a good look at their own wanton yet systematic practices of corruption within the boundaries of their organisations. UCGFs are a sophisticated corruption virus in the 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 be set back 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. This money, however, does not include the rookies’ compulsory attendance of weekly social gatherings where they 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 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 get expelled for very honourable acts. The re-joining fee can be as high as £300 and the number of rejections would result in multiples of the sum required. For all the publicity about brotherhood and love within the UCGFs, certain clique members are shielded from these fines and penalties no matter how heinous their offences of dishonour are while many innocent or well-meaning members get slammed most unjustly with the extortionate practices. Where rebates are given to certain members. nepotism and favouritism are definitive determinants. They cannot even practice social justice within their ranks but preach it or 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 exacted on members who cannot maintain payments including some deceased and others severely incapacitated by illness or injury. After all, these UCGFs persist simply 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 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 monies collected are wantonly squandered. Moneys bequeath to the organisation is mostly kept very secret. Rapacious theft in high places within UCGFs is the rule and the battle for leadership gets increasingly fiercer as the chest of money swells. The larger the sums of money collected the emptier the accounts become. If asked to produce accounts of their income and expenditure 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 they can be sensed physically. Inevitably, some funding has been given to UCGFs but can they 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 prosecution it will be noted that a sizeable number of UCGF members across the country are culpable in the corruption of the day and might even be sent to the slammer. UCFGs should lament their corruption and the corruption of their members in public office before lamenting about corruption in society. In fact, it would be wise for UCGFs to set-up their own versions of EFCC within their ranks to curb the rapacious and flagrant corruption / economic crimes they are riddled with. Then let them tell the public how they were able to curb corruption in their organisations.

Charity begins at home. Corruption also begins at home. UCGFs do not have charity to give to the world. All they have to give is corruption and scams sold with good spin. UCGFs have gone viral.

Grimot Nane

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