PERHAPS Nigeria would have been technologically improved even if the government did not help matters to make us grow, but occupied the minds of the youths nowadays is far more than development in technology or any area than to grow in violence and other anti-social activities.
Increasing violent cult/gang activities in Nigerian institutions and environs in the late 80’s and till date heightened tensions, uncertainty, restlessness, militancy, campus terrorism and fierce struggle for supremacy and show off to pass a “We are in charge signal” to others that might be willing to dare. Most peaceful social groups suddenly became violent in order to survive and in order to keep to pace. The truth is that they have been overwhelmed by the great violence, destruction and pain they cause others and themselves. Even those who could not hurt “flies” under normal situation have been made murderers, robbers, thugs, highly violent and brutal entities and full of immorality because of their involvement in secret cult/gang activities.
Sometimes, they emit these evils with greater driven force. This is because cults/gangs members are encouraged by their leaders to be wild and inconsiderate in dealing with non-members, members of other cults/gangs and even members of same cult/gang groups who disobey in any form. Many secret cult/gang members do not know the fact that cultism is a lethal weapon fashioned against humanity while some know, yet do not want to accept this fundamental truth. Rather they go against the truth, to justify their vain desires. Trait of what metamorphose into cultism found its way into the Nigerian institutions of learning as far back as early 50’s, 1953 precisely, at the university college (now University of Ibadan).It was formed by Nigeria’s Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and others. Their core objectives are to abolish convention, revive the age chivalry and to end tribalism and elitism.
Although the philosophical foundation of this group could be appropriately located in the tales of Treasure Island and the renaissance period of the fifteenth century, their ideas were both patriotic and altruistic as it was not imagined as a secret cult, but simply known as the Pyrates’ Confraternity or the National Association of Seadogs. Their objectives which revolved around the maintenance of polite behavior among people of different background and chivalry portrayed the dreams of the Founders.
The question from a sane mind is why did the students decide to form such a group? Nigeria in the 1940s and 1950s was on the verge of gaining political independence. The nationalistic fervor in the country gave a warning signal to the colonialists that the sun was about to set on the British Empire. Trade union consciousness and militancy soared under the leadership of Michael Imuodu. Political parties sprang up in the major centres of the country which raised political awareness and questioned the continued stay of the colonialists in the country. Nigerian students were not left out of this social change. They questioned the conscription of Kings’ college students into the colonial army to fight in the World war II and eventually created a conducive background for the emergence of the popular National council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (later Citizens) (NCNC). The ideas of the students were to respond to the demands of the time, enhance cultural nationalism and fight the tribalisation of politics which was given a boost by the Richards constitution of 1946.
Over the years, due to doctrinal differences and inability of intending members to meet required standards of the Pyrates confraternity, protestant ones started emerging like the Buccaneers, Mafia and Vickings. The early nineties witnessed a boom as every university was plagued with cult explosion such as the Supreme Eiye confraternity Black Axe, Black Cats, Trojan Horse, Black Panthers, the Twelve Disciples, Mgba Mgba Brothers , Maphites, Temple of Eden, The Jurists, Klu Klux Klan, The Executioners, Black Beret, Dreaded friend of friends, National Association of Adventurers, Black Scorpion, Eagle Club, Termites, Red Sea Horses, Knight Cadet, Sonmen, White Angels, Amazons, Daughters of Jezebel, and the Black Brassieres among others.
There was no time that any cultists’ action that could disrupt the peaceful co-existence in the academic communities was recorded until late 80’s as a result of loss of values in the society. It was in this same 80’s that moral decadence as a result of bad leadership due to incessant military rule that led to fall in moral values in our nation, Nigeria. The civil war, political instabilities, religious brouhaha, violence, high rate of assassination, gross misconducts and disorderliness here and there in our country are as a result of selfish protection of personal interest by our leaders. This has made almost every Nigerian, in his\her own small unit, to have a cause to grief and, therefore, crave for power to satisfy personal interest. The menace of cultism is a reflection of the shadow of the larger society. Most leaders in Nigeria who are supposed to lead by example lack those essential ingredients for productive leadership, strength of character, political will, right policies implementation, right values and personal virtues, hence, could not produce the desirable positive change in the lives of Nigerians, most especially the youths. Cultism can best be described as a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the bone marrow of every institution of higher learning in Nigeria. The newly created Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education can never be left out; it is only a matter of time. The issue of cultism is as real as human existence. The proliferation of the various illicit groups has led to moral decadence, campus terrorism, examination malpractices, drug addiction, and the mother of it all-Cultism cum Gangsterism.
The possible effects of cultism on the learning process cannot be exhausted as both intra and inter-cult clashes negatively affect students in stupendous proportions. Cult clashes lead to an outburst of violence on the campus which leaves many students wounded, maimed or killed as the case may be. It sometimes leads to the incarceration, rustication or expulsion of both innocent and guilty students. There is no gainsaying the fact that when any of the aforementioned happens, the learning process, the psyche of students and the peace of the campus are adversely affected. In cases of closure, hospitalization, suspension or incarceration, the resultant effect is that learning is suspended for some period of time, possibly a year or more.
Some cult clashes are so catastrophic that loss of infrastructures and other resources will be colossal and eventually the funds that would have been expended on the provision of other facilities and infrastructures on the campus will be used in replacing the damaged ones. The concomitant result of the waste of capital is reduction of the quality and quantity of education as there will not be enough money to purchase the necessary learning equipment nor to cater for the education of many.
The solid existence of cult groups within the university community has completely made life unsafe and meaningless for both staff and students as female students who refuse the amorous advances of cult members are disdainfully manhandled. Lecturers who insist on merit for passing exams are openly attacked and disgracefully beaten up or sometimes killed, thus, paving way for the free reign of fear, violence and a palpable feeling of insecurity. This ruinously comatose situation is a veritable recipe for academic immorality, national impotence and ruin as it is an inescapable truism that no nation can rise or develop beyond the capacities of her tertiary institutions and if her future leaders, the youths, who according to Benjamin Disraeli, are the trustees of posterity, are trained in such a milieu, nothing then awaits such a nation but A FUTURE THAT IS BUILT AND STRIVES ON VIOLENCE.
Also, a sentinel survey carried out on various campuses and vicinities showed that between 1995 and 2004, about 1,743 cultists have died; about 23 innocent students became victims of circumstances. In the same vein, about 6,733 cultists were maimed and about 115 innocent students maimed.
In time past, the secret cults carry out their activities in the “secret” or in the night. That is what earned them the prefix “secret”. The issue of the secrecy of the cults is different these days. On a second though, one may ask. “Are secret cult membership and activities really secret these days?” No, they aren’t I may say. The nefarious activities of the various secret cult groups are now being carried out during the day and night to show that they are becoming bold in their efforts to integrate their intolerable activities into the normal societal life.
Cultism unattractive and an unnecessary option, there must be improved facilities and living conditions on campuses so as to minimize perceived strain in the social system which underlines cultism on our campuses. Our institutions must be overhauled in order to be capable of providing for all who live within them and be able to correct the injustices against any student or group of students by peaceful and lawful means. We cannot ensure domestic tranquility unless we establish justice in a truly democratic society. Nigerian students should, therefore, as a matter of urgency, be engaged in the irreversible business of total recrimination with the shallow ingredients of corruption, neo-colonial enslavement, jaundiced and retrogressive economic policies, ethnic manipulation, and electoral malpractices that pervade and predominate our country’s landscape as well as the unwarranted destabilization and intimidation of the nation’s academia by the pseudo-bourgeois and hegemonic class of Politicians.
Academic freedom, autonomy and proper democratization of education will ensure a full participation of students and other marginalized segments of the academic community in the process of policy formulation and decision making. It is my sincere opinion that Nigerian students should agitate ceaselessly for independent student unionism as well as ensure that credible leaders are elected to champion a new orientation for students in all Nigerian campuses.
Where the aforesaid methods fail to restore and rehabilitate these gangsters, students should spot, expose and ensure instant punishment for them. The suspension or rustication of apprehended cultists from the schools without allowing them to provide answer for their nefarious conducts under the law exposes the criminal law and its dissuasive content to ridicule and contempt. The instant punishment becomes imperative when viewed against the biblical injunction of Ecclesiastes 8:11 which states that “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore, the heart of the sons of men is become fully set in them to do evil”.
Realizing the havoc which cultism has wrecked on both members and non-members of the academic community, all hands must be on deck to check their activities. It is, therefore, imperative on the part of the society and the university communities alike to de-emphasize thuggery, brigandage, and celebration of violence and shift attention to positive societal values which will enhance positive growth. The patron and the benefactors who engineer violence and hostility to promote their unscrupulous political sentiment should be tracked and trapped down from all corners, so as to make other instruments of peace effective.
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