Should a Dress Code be Implemented on Nigerian Campuses?

Should a Dress Code be Implemented on Nigerian Campuses?

Sitting on the laps of history, a story is told of the late 1960’s in American and European Universities where students and some lecturers initiated unorthodox modes of dressing as a form of political protest, for example against the United States involvement in Vietnam. By the end of colonialism and apartheid, rebellious modes of dressing had become the norm. Hence, rebellion has always been associated with flagrant dress codes all over the world and on Nigerian campuses.

The long-standing ‘debate’ of implementing dress codes on Nigerian campuses, I beg to say, is no longer a debate. This is because there are already existing dress codes on Nigerian Universities; from Federal Universities to State institutions and even privately owned Universities. Some of these existing dress codes have a religious tone underlying it, while others have been decisions of relevant authorities. The question that should be in contention now is ‘Should there exist a Federal legislation regulating dress codes on Nigerian campuses?’

Dress codes on campuses have been passed in a number of Nigerian Universities a few of which are FUTMINNA, University of Lagos, University of Maiduguri, Bayero University, Kano and University of Abuja amongst others. Again, certain State Governors have seen the need to implement a regulation of dress codes within their states, namely Lagos State and recently, Osun State. Furthermore, certain professional courses of study in Universities have a regulated dress code. The law course and the health sciences profession are good examples of this. One does not also need to mention the strict dress codes employed on certain religious University campuses.

These are basic observations that indeed, a form of dress code exists on our campuses. However, I assert that there is a need for a universally and federally regulated dress code for Nigerian campuses. My reasons for advocating this position are not far-fetched.

First, and of utmost importance is the need to preserve moral standards. Choosing to be honest with ourselves, we must agree that the types of dressing that has bedevilled our campuses nowadays are outrageous and beyond the spheres of reason. History makes us aware that early humans were naked wanderers and as evolution progressed, man became wiser and began to use clothes and live in houses. It is quite unfortunate then, that there seems to be a reverse in the order of evolution where the populace wants to go almost naked in the name of fashion.

While I will give kudos to our religious institutions that have attempted to curb this menace by regulating dress codes to the extent of their ability, I will make a call on the federal government to implement necessary legislation for dress codes on campuses to preserve our moral standards. According to Lord Devlin, ‘When a particular practice has reached such a stage that the right-minded person in the society would view it with indignation, intolerance and disgust, then the time has come for society to us the weapon of law’. He also posited that ‘morality is one of the vital factors that bind society’. It is necessary to bring to mind also that the African society is founded on a moral heritage that must be preserved.

The second reason for my position is the need to ensure discipline and a sense of responsibility among university undergraduates. Discipline should be an integral and essential part of university education, and a defined dress code is one of the ways to instil such. It will also instil a sense of responsibility when undergraduates of higher institutions dress in a proper manner, indicating an obvious difference when examined alongside their counterparts who are not in the higher institution. Many profession and companies also require certain dress codes, so a defined dress code system on campuses will help prepare students for their career in real world.

Another reason on which I will hinge my discourse is that the implementation of a unified dress code on campuses will reduce the level of sexual abuse and harassment. The common saying ‘you are addressed the way you are dressed is nothing short of the truth. A lot of students, predominantly female have been molested by their lecturers simply because their indecent dressings have appealed to the latter. Indecent dressing, sadly, has also aided social vices like rape on campuses.

I must not fail to say that the implementation of dress codes, although leaning unfavourably on the female folk, also applies to the male folk, because recent developments in the country show that even male folk are starting to expose nude material.

Although, I may not be able to exhaust my reasons in this piece, it is my opinion that the advantages of a universal dress code regulation far outweigh whatever disadvantages there might be. I also do not pretend not to be aware of the challenges that may face relevant authorities in not only implementing, but also enforcing these standards; however with sheer determination and moral will, I believe it can be achieved. A need for a dress code to stem the dangerous tide of outrageous dressing, in my opinion, is pertinent.

indecent dressing

17 thoughts on “Should a Dress Code be Implemented on Nigerian Campuses?” by adebayo caleb (@lordkel)

  1. In my school (LAUTECH), dresscode has just been implemented..
    I support your point……
    And I ask, which school was that insert picture taken…… That is too bad

  2. Bola (@basittjamiu)

    great write! Iagree with your views it is purely the fact, but do you think the federal governments are taking advantage of this?

  3. Asa said something like “who is responsible for what we teach our children, is it the internet or stars on television?”.

    I hope celebrities and the media do a lot more about this. They shouldn’t always make such ‘ways’ of dressing look so ‘cool’.

    Nice article.

  4. A time has to come when we should separate religion from reasoning. There’s nothing wrong in someone choosing to dress any way the person wants. Mode of dressing has nothing to with moral standards and discipline. An undiscipline person will always remain undisciplined whether the person wears agbada or not. I fail to see the relevance of strict mode of dressing to the improvement and development of the schools and the society as a whole…

    Nice article though.

    1. @francis. I honestly do not see religion in insisting that people should dress decently. Every society has values. If you went to your office one morning and found that the receptionist downstairs has come to work in her pants, how would you react? You know it is unusual. It is not acceptable to our society. Or supposing the President of Nigeria delivered the 50th Independence Anniversary speech standing stark naked on national television. You wouldn’t want your daughter to watch the broadcast because it is not part of our value system. That kind of thing could even earn the President calls for a psychiatric test.

      Gentlemen, we cannot shy away from our values, and whatever we discuss concerning dressing code is transferable to all codes. If there is need for ethics, codes of conducts and laws any where, then there is need for them everywhere. Thank you.

  5. Nice write. But being truthful to ourselves, who suffers most in the matter of indecent or improper dressing but the dresser, or put in another sense, the donner of the attire. it is pertinent to note that sexual harassment will continue to exist whether a dress code is implemented or not.
    In my opinion, an inner discipline is what we need. We should be able to look beyond the scrawny or saggy udders and thighs that are exposed so blatantly for all to see, for it tells their worth if the owner(s) of these properties do not hold them in high value and choose to let the entirety of mankind behold such exhibition of flesh. besides, do we not all have sisters and mothers at home? And do they not at one point or the other under the stress of discomfort or some other reason choose to shed a little clothing at will?
    Discretion is advised, so is shedding the unnecessary concentration on such diversionary tactics.

    1. I agree @focus that we need inner discipline. In fact, Achebe says in The Trouble with Nigeria that if discipline is not self-discipline, then it is not discipline at all. But some fellows left on their own will not cultivate this inner discipline, and because of that, the society will suffer the effects of their actions. Because I have self-discipline, I will not steal or rob you of your belonging. The reason another person will do that is that he doesn’t have inner discipline. So what do we do? Do we simply fold our hands and watch him rob you while lamenting passively that the robber ought to have self-discipline? No. Instead, we’ve put a penal code in place that strives to shield us against such people. That’s what the dressing code will help achieve.

  6. I recently went to UniCal and wore a sleeveless gown with a shawl wrapped round my shoulders. I was denied entrance because of two things. I was wearing a sleeveless gown underneath my shawl. “I am hot” did not cut it with the security. My sleeveless gown was not showing off any unmentionables and the shawl was a thick one, I even took a snapshot of myself as evidence. I wasn’t angry just a bit piqued. It should have been posted on their website or on the school’s entrance in bold letters.

    I am against indecent public dressing but what is indecent and what is not?

    1. And I doubt that picture is of a school…it looks more like a concert than anything else.

  7. Very interesting topic and well written.

  8. I for one hate rules and rules and more silly rules. My dear, so long what you’re doing isn’t endangering the other’s life, it’s a free world. If you’re a guy n you see free boobs, pls peep wella. When you go after it, it’s then you show that your morals isn’t any higher than that of the shower.

    We all must learn to be disciplined. Rules or no rules. If you’re the kind that needs to be guided with a rod before you do the right thing, then in my opinion, you’re a lower animal. And higher ones don’t need to be put through undue stress simply because of your folly.


    1. My sister @babyada if we leave the society that loose and simply let everyone “learn to be disciplined”, some fellows will not learn. I agree that if “you are the kind that needs to be guided with a rod before you do the right thing . . . you’re a lower animal”. But that is even why we must have laws! We need them to guard us against the lower animals carrying out robbery, embezzlement, kidnapping, election rigging etc.

      If we only observe that they are lower animals and walk away leaving them free reign, our society is doomed. So you see, this free world must be regulated by codes and laws if it is actually going to remain free.

  9. I am of the strong opinion that we must enforce a dress code on our campuses. There has been this archaic argument that people still present about rights and freedoms of students to dress the way they want. I don’t believe any freedom is absolute. If the same students are not free to write whatever they want or come to the exam hall whenever they want, why should they put on whatever they want to the hall?

    Again, the question of dress code does not end on campus. Here we are, training people who are going to work in our society that has codes or laws. Is it not only logical that they are also trained to observe and respects codes? When we resist dress codes, will it only be on campus? There are codes of conduct in every decent society and in every profession. So when the dress-code resistant fellows graduate from school, are they going to be leave our society or will they live and work in our society in spite of its codes?

    In fact, I agree with you @lordkel and I have also written a piece on this virus ravaging our institutions and when it comes up here, the debate can continue. Thank you.

  10. Thank you guys for your comments. They’ve been brilliant and engaging and make quite an interesting read. I appreciate it. @francis I actually believe that dressing is an integral part of our moral code, and one can’t really seperate morality from the law especially in an African society like ours because the longer we do that, the sooner our society will fall apart completely. Morality has also formed part of many of our laws so while i don’t encourage the government to make overreaching laws guiding dressing, certain standards should be created

  11. Uyiosa (@wordsfromuyi)

    @lordkel Freedom is not religion and decency is up to its beholder. The Nigerian Government should not interfere with our freedom, they should be focused on improving the already crumbled foundation they have laid out. If they intervene, are they any different from those religious fanatics who want to see Nigeria placed under ‘a certain law’. The Government should focus on other things rather than what people wear, if they care so much about decency, make dem go catch all those madmen and madwomen wey dey strut their private parts up and down.
    Good read!!

  12. My question is this:

    ‘What would the purpose of such dress code be?’

    And if the answer is ‘to enforce decent dressing’ my question would be;

    ‘What is the purpose of such an enforcement?’

    Bottom line – why not clean up their hearts? The appearance will automatically follow. Enforcing a dress code as far as I’m concerned is a pointless exercise. Address their brains and hearts. Their dressing will change.

    1. @Seun-Odukoya, you said what was on my mind. We do not want graduates who will be decent in school and indecent out of school. Besides, what’s the definition of decency? Who will define it?

Leave a Reply