Uwoghiren is a 200 level student, Medicine and Surgery, University of Benin, Nigeria
• Secret lives of students who pretend to be virgins at home, but live with campus lovers
Pretence is a GAME students play with ease. Before their parents, they wear the borrowed robes of angels, but they become sons and daughters of iniquity on campus. A good number of undergraduates dwell in a kingdom of deceit, where sex is cheaper than a pot of porridge.Their trademark of hypocrisy and lies flourishes both in public and private universities. They announce their presence in lecture halls by their ostentatious display of wealth. While other students are seated in old rickety chairs in lecture theatres, they swim in luxury in high-brow hostels off campus. They live like kings and queens in their secret palace of love, spending in a day the income that is above the monthly earning of their parents or guardians.
Most of them, especially ladies, live for their partner. They wash the man's clothes, clean the room and spend quality time cooking delicious meals, such that an onlooker might think they are married. The fact is that they might be single at home, but on campus, they are married. They live in a love nest with the lucky guy for as long as four years.
Welcome to the world of campus couples. Cohabitation, a phenomenon where two young unmarried people live together under the same roof, is a common trend on campus. It is not uncommon to find male and female students living under one roof as couples without the consent of their parents. The habit, termed 'campus couple', has gained grounds especially in off-campus residence.
Many students, who spoke to Campus Sun, said cohabitation enables two students in love to determine their compatibility status, as they get to study themselves before marriage. The male student assumes the role of a husband and the lady takes up the role of a wife. Neighbours know both of them, as they are often seen going out together. For these campus couples, exam period is the only time that reminds them of academic work, as they spend a better part of the semester practising family life.
Investigation by Campus Sun revealed that these students go for off campus residence for some reasons, ranging from poor sanitary conditions of halls of residence, inability to secure accommodation on campus and overcrowding. It was discovered that students cohabit for economic and financial reasons.
David Odia, a student of the Federal Polytechnic Auchi (Auchi Poly), defended the practice, saying that cohabitation unites future partners. "It is very romantic to live together as husband and wife, doing things in common, taking collective decision as a family. In fact, the period prepares one for family life. This has helped many undergraduates to discover their spouses to which they are happily married today," he argued.
Narrating her ordeal to Campus Sun, Amaka Okoro (not real name), an undergraduate of a federal university, said her inability to secure accommodation on campus made her to cohabit with a guy she met during her departmental week activities. "Ever since I came here, I am more or less a mother. I do all the washing, cooking and domestic work. My academic programme is suffering as I find it hard to read my books, which is my primary reason for being in school," she confessed.
She continued: "I feel bored at times. Whenever my fiancé and I have a quarrel, he abuses and molests me which gives me psychological and health problems."
Asked why she has not left her fiancé's home, she said her desire for companionship has made her remain there. When pressed further whether her parents know of her situation, she screamed: "No!"
Campus Sun tried to find out if she has ever been sexually molested by her fiancé ever since she started living with him, she flashed a broad smile and left the question hanging in the air.
Amaka disclosed that some of her friends living with other male students engage in vices like stealing, lying and cybercrimes to raise fund to sustain the relationship.
"Many of them are finding it difficult to graduate and others have been asked to withdraw from the university because they have exceeded the maximum period allowed for their degree," she disclosed.
When Campus Sun visited Ekosodin and Osasogie, both off campus residence around the University of Benin (UNIBEN), and mentioned the trend to some group of students, they reeled out in laughter at the coinage 'campus couples' and attested to the fact that some of them are practising it.
One of them, a 300 level student of Medical Physiology, had this to say: "The trend is rampant here in Ekosodin. Those that engage in it are the 'happening' girls and guys on the campus. The practice is really expensive and as such we respect those that engage in the act."
He continued: "What most UNIBEN students do here is to disguise that they are staying in their fellowship secretariat off-campus, which is not true. When you properly investigate the matter, you will find out that most of them are staying with their boyfriends off-campus. There was the case of a 200 level law student whose father is a politician in Lagos. She was staying with a student-pastor here in Ekosodin. As a result of her affluence, she was always demanding money from her father to sustain the relationship. They later made her the vice president of the campus fellowship. You need to see the way this girl was playing out the role of a wife to the student-pastor and neglecting her studies. Her parents became disturbed and told a relative that stays in the school hostel to find out where she lives. She was exposed and that was how the friendship ended."
Mrs. Rachael Omoregie, a social worker and counselor decried the practice and called for immediate measures to checkmate it. According to her, the compatibility status, which the students are attempting to get, is not working out. They engage in sexual immorality. If the lady gets pregnant, her education is truncated. This practice, according to her, is responsible for a rise in the level of girls dropping out of school. She further stated that the ladies could develop psychological problem when they experience heartbreak, which could make them contemplate suicide.
"Abortion in our tertiary institution can be attributed to cohabitation. These students are not ready for parenting and can do everything within their powers to flush out pregnancies when they occur. Moreover, those cohabiting students expose themselves to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD's), which can lead to infertility in the future. In the long run," said a medical doctor at the University Of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) who did not want his name in print.
A parent, Mrs. Grace Iyenoma, who resides at Ekosodin, said, "I wonder what has come over our undergraduates these days. Going through the number of students cohabiting here in Ekosodin leaves one shocked. It is scripturally, morally and culturally wrong. It is destroying our values. What goes round comes around. These students are cohabiting for nothing but to get space for having sex. Haven done all these atrocities in school, how do you expect them to cope well in marriage? Come to think of it, what if, the compatibility test fails? Who will marry the girls? The most annoying part of it is that their parents do not know about what they are doing. If my son happens to bring any of such ladies home, I would chase her out."
Another parent, Mama Iyabor, who is also a trader at Ekosodin, said cohabiting by students is good business. "Inasmuch as I don't like the practice, I cannot help it because it is making my business boom. These 'couples-to-be' shop as though they own the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and live big off-campus. In fact, their stay is helping my business boom. If they stop this practice, how do you expect me to feed my children? My business will suffer," he said.
Ese Akpovete, a graduating student of Physics at the Delta State University, Abraka called for immediate end to the act. According to her, the pains from sexual breakups range from depression and suicide attempts of some young adults.
Joy Musa, HND 2, Mass Communication, Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic (NUBA POLY) Kaduna, stated that parents have a lot of roles to play in curbing the practice. According to her, schools have little or no authority to exert on students because they (students) are considered to be adults. "Parents who toil day and night to see their wards through school should cultivate the habit of paying them unscheduled visit in order to find out what they are doing in school. If students know that their parents would pay them visit without prior notice, they would be restrained in their wild adventure," she said.