Cultism in Nigeria: Causes, Effects And Solutions: Just before Nigeria attained her Independence in 1960, there were a lot of activistic movements majorly projected at extinguishing the control of the colonialists over the people of Nigeria. Of course, some more than others took an amicable route of expressing their desire to see a united Nigeria as a liberated country.
Wole Soyinka was one of those who wanted Nigerians to inculcate the values of the Nigerian heritage. He was eager to see youths take pride in their roots and ultimately promote the sense of belonging and nationality. This was the main point agenda of the first ever social association (Cult group) called The Pirates Confraternity Elite of the University College, Ibadan which was formed by said Wole Soyinka in 1952.
Historically speaking, this was a step in the right direction for the Nigerian youths who were equally passionate about the nation’s freedom and the rights of her true citizens. However as the group grew so did egos and self centeredness began to grow. There was no longer unity of purpose and the main agenda was ignored by some members of the society which automatically caused the unit to split up.
Rebellious members were expelled for not conforming to the Confraternity’s standards and they formed a different association called the National Association of Seadogs around the 1970s. Fast forward to contemporary times, the origin of all the famous secret societies is glued to the division and the consequent agenda. What was supposed to be a non violent Social Association gradually metamorphosed into sort of a militarized structure of people coupled with fiendish activities and quite basically, criminality.
As time progressed, these cult groups totally disregarded the main point agenda which was to preserve the heritage of their country and focused on protecting their own self interests. These cult groups began to proliferate in tertiary and more sadly, secondary institutions. The spread of cultism extended beyond educational institutions as the youths continued to be invested in the vile practices.
But what is the main message of any secret society? Notwithstanding how much cult groups rival against one another, the universal purpose of existence is to protect the individual interests of all members in the group by any means necessary. The unity of agenda is purely defending any member’s interest whether it will lead to destruction of lives and/or properties. How times have passed.
Now all cult groups are viewed as unholy associations of which any participation will lead to legal sanctions and prosecution. Indeed Cultism is nothing more than an organization of incubated criminals that has been outlawed whether in schools or largely this country.
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Causes of Cultism in Nigeria
It is not nitpicking to say that Cultism is not an original choice for anyone to wish to participate in. The tragic part however is that there are factors that simply are not to be considered frivolous which make a person, male or female to join a secret society. Let’s examine the obvious causes:
1. Poor parental upbringing: Any child who engages in cultism is known to come from an inbalanced home. It is one of many things; Either the parents are divorced or neither parent has adequate time for their wards or the children are not properly trained, monitored or cared for.
It goes without saying that if parents play their roles properly, their children will not run into the wrong company or feel more appreciated elsewhere. They will not seek security, love and assurance from anti social associations.
2. Peer pressure: A lot of people have spoken so well about this factor. It is not possible to rule out Peer Pressure, especially when it comes to adolescents who are characteristically known to be rebellious and want to find acceptance from their peers.
Similarly, most students are forced into joining out of their unwillingness because of threats from their colleagues who are already in the system.
3. Lack of proper Orientation for the students and the general public: Majority of those arrested for homicide, rape, armed robbery and the like are linked in some shape or form with Cultism.
This is why there’s a large troop of youths joining secret societies. It is because there is no adequate training and orientation given not only to students but the general public. Until there is enough training of students and youths in general about the dangers of Cultism, there will be a never ending practice.
4. False sense of low self esteem is another reason why youths get involved in Cultism. It is all in effort to feel amongst intimidating colleagues as a blanket to cover their insecurities.
Effects of Cultism in Nigeria
The consequences of involvement in cult activities are endless and inevitable. Apart from the reputational damage one will suffer in a long run when he or she is easily associated with past participation in a secret society, there are more grievous ramifications. Some of which include; Destruction of lives and properties.
This is the case when rival cult groups clash leading to severe injuries or in worst case scenario, death. Not only do these killings happen among the cult groups but it leads to loss of innocent lives.
The latter usually occurs when the victim is uninterested in joining the cult group despite various demands. School activities get disrupted because of the high level of threat these criminal acts pose to the entire institution.
Eventually, this leads to a decline in academic performance of not only the students who engage in these practices but the worrying students who are constantly distabilised by possible future attacks.
They have no assurance of their safety in an institution solely established for learning. Properties are destroyed or vandalized by the cultists in a sheer display of their dissatisfaction with a policy. Staff are intimidated to do their biddings. These activities are not only restricted to schools.
Cultism also plays heavily in the society among top influential figures. Whether in the traditional, professional or political sectors, you will find a good number of high class workers derive security in involving themselves in Cultism. How does one expect such people to discourage the practice in Schools and elsewhere?
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Possible solutions To Cultism
Finding a solution is not a problem. The question is whether the suggestions presented as solutions are close to feasible. Over the years, astute writers and speakers have intelligently opined that certain strict measures should be put in place to curb Cultism once and for all. These include legal measures, appropriate sanctions and accomplished prosecution.
Others have suggested that the school institutions should have stricter policies against cult practices. The latest suggestion known to this writer is that a special administrative tribunal should be set up to deal with matters partaining to Cultism in schools.
While these are all agreeable points, the fact is that Cultism is a crime and just like other crimes, irrespective of the laws enacted proscribing reprehensible actions, the crime rate is not on steady decrease. This does not mean that government and private persons should rest on their laurels wishing for the eradication of Cultism. It is just a reiteration of the truth in the proverb “Charity begins at home”.
Parents and guardians should inculcate discipline in their wards. They should strictly monitor the company they keep and advise them accordingly. They should not be so liberal with their children in regards to what they watch, where they go, the schools they attend. They should also orient their children on what is morally acceptable and otherwise. This also means they should give room for their wards to be heard without overly rebuking them for sharing their thoughts and perception.
Making a youth feel as though he or she is silly with even the littlest issue will remain a relationship breaker between parents and children. It will cause the children to seek protection and assurance elsewhere even though it is an anti social association.
Sufficient orientation should be afforded to youths across Nigeria on the dangers of Cultism. And of course, to complement it all, vocalize the ramifications of getting involved in cult group activity according to stringent measures put in place by the Government.
In this writer’s honest opinion, Cultism is a shade of terrorism. It is an internal cankerworm in the fabric of a democratic society. This is not just because it involves contrary agenda to the overall object of establishing a government which is securing the peace and welfare of its people.
It is dangerous because it claims the lives of people whether members or innocent citizens. Everyone has a part to play in curbing Cultism. The Government, School institutions, Parents or Guardians, Academic Staff and the youths themselves can greatly contribute to achieving what many consider impossible.
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It may be far fetched to curb Cultism once and for all but if we all act according to our abilities, whether in vehemently writing or speaking against it or in exercising a higher power to silence those who are engaged, it will go a long way to bring it to an end. What we are witnessing is fairly newsworthy.
The Government and Institutions are enacting laws and regulations respectively to curb the menace. Other Orientation programmes have been on a fast track to deter youths involved to continue and those not yet in it to avoid the temptation.
One thing is certain; even those who do these unimaginable acts are young, vibrant and quite honestly, significant to the social growth and development of a society. The Government should provide job opportunities to the deserving youths and place them in comfortable roles. That will be an indication that there is always an alternative to wrong doing and there is no profit in doing what will endanger you and your fellow human beings. Will Cultism end? There is always the possibility.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.