Edet sat before the review panel. His heart was pounding. He had enjoyed five years full scholarship scheme with added international networks. He finished top of his class. It had been no surprise. Or maybe a little since he had strong competition from his fellow students. Today, the panel would review their academic and moral conduct while on the program. He played images of summer holidays in Cuba, in his head.
“Edet Donald Issong, you have quite an outstanding academic record. Clearly, it’s the best we’ve seen in the fifteen years of setting up this scholarship scheme”, Mr. Dan Appiah, the Students Welfare Chairman began, calling him back to present.
“However, there is an issue of moral integrity.” He stopped and stared into Edet’s face. Edet became uneasy. Moral decadence? Mr. Appiah handed him a file.
“Do you recognize these?”
His first few months on Facebook and he’d racked up over four thousand friends and a long line of followers. The longest line, of course, were his admirers, mainly female folk. He tried to keep his head above the water when interacting with them. He had witnessed enough social media drama to last a lifetime. That worked until Stacy came along. He made a post and she disagreed with the idea he was perpetuating. A long string of comments and replies followed. She was one tough bone. Brilliance and defiance all rolled into one person. She brought the battle to him and beat down his defenses. He wasn’t exactly wrong, by reason of his post but she had exploited a loophole and made him look bad. He decided to check her out.
“Ed, the girl is hot!” James screamed on the phone.
“Yeah. Her pictures clearly say that. Dunno what to do to get her interested in me.” He sounded dejected now.
“How long you guys been chatting?”
“Over a month, since that drama. She just keeps things casual and sometimes ignores my greetings for days.”
“Her pictures are slutty. She’s definitely playing hard to get.” James said dryly.
“You think?” Edet was confused. He wasn’t good at reading signs. That’s why he had James. He had successfully brokered some of his conquests. He trusted his judgment in these matters.
“Of course.” James chirped in with excitement in his voice. “You know what…?” He asked.
“Tell me.” Edet was desperate. It wasn’t about getting laid. It was a strange kind of curiosity.
“Send her nudes.”
The images that were pulled out burned his eyes and made his brain foggy.
“Apparently, you’d do anything for a few minutes of action?”, Dr. Aniekan, his state ambassador asked. “I really did think that with all your brilliance, you would show some sort of self-preservation and integrity. I am so ashamed of you right now”, he added.
Edet bent his head and did the math. It was a setup. It was a test. They had created fake social media accounts to monitor their students. He hadn’t thought they’d go this far. There was no Stacy. She didn’t exist. It all made sense. The lapses in her stories. The refusal to meet. The constant excuses. He should have known. He should have figured it out. How could he have been so foolish? How could he have been so irresponsible? He couldn’t blame James, he was being a guy. This was his mistake. His shame.
He bowed and waited for the axe.