TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. DEFINITION OF TERMS
ii. Higher Institution
II. ORIGIN AND SPREAD OF CULTISM IN NIGERIA HIGHER INSTITUTION
III. EFFECTS OF CULTISM IN NIGERIA HIGHER INSTITUTION
IV. THE RESPONSES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHURCH TOWARDS CULTISM IN NIGERIA HIGHER INSTITUTION
One of the grievous social crimes committed in the Nigeria Higher Institutions is cultism. Indeed, it is a social crime which is very rampant in the Universities, College of Educations, and Polytechnics all over the country. Cultism is a social menace which is not restricted to only the institutions of higher learning but that it is a common phenomenon that characterises the entire society, the secondary schools are not left behind.
Cultism in Nigeria Higher Institutions has been a serious topic in most of the Nigeria News Paper and magazines ever since 1980s. The educational sociologists and some experts in psychology in this nation have devoted a lot of interest trying to carry out some researches on cultism and gangsterism that exist in Nigeria Higher Institutions. Government in their own settings have tried their possible best to figure out the root causes of such evil gangs and practices. They have gone to the extent of declaring strikes in some affected schools, and sometimes expelled some defaulters sometimes ago, but their actions appeared unhelpful may be, because of non consistency in their actions.
The problem sometimes is not searching out the solution to the level of cultism in Nigeria Institutions but, to find out the grave causes of high level of cultism in Nigeria Higher Institutions, unearth the possible effects of this cultism to the school, government, church, and future of this nation as a whole, and at most, proffering solutions in order to put a stop or at least, rebranding some individual student’s lives, especially those who passionately gave their life to this cultism practices.
But this may not be achieved if the church Jesus referred to as the light and salt of the world keeps quite. God has called out the church for wholistic mission which starts from Jerusalem that could literally refers to as the native place, to Judea and to the uttermost part of the earth. God, who has commissioned the Church to arise and respond to some vital issues like this has also endowed the church with the grace to influence and impact the world positively. So, Nigerian Churches have a lot of challenges ahead and tasks to accomplish.
I. DEFINITION OF TERMS
Sometimes there are some terminologies that have dual meanings. In this research work, there is a possible need to define “Cultism” and “Higher Institution” in order to refer them to the main context of this work.
According to A.S. Hornby in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, “Cult is a small group of people who have extreme religious beliefs and who are not part of any established religion” (Hornby 2006, 357). Hornby in this definition tries to express cultism to be a group of people that has its own religion and offers their wholehearted worship and devotion to anything or anyone other than every other established or recognised and accepted religion such as, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc.
Despite the fact that Hornby proves that cult is a religious group, sometimes, they differ because, there are some of the branches of cultism that is refers to secret cult. In this aspect, R. Ogunade defined it as,
An enclosed organized association or group devoted to the same cause. It is an enclosed group having an exclusive sacred ideology and a series of rites centering around their sacred symbols. The members of the cult commit themselves to oath and allegiance, which serves as their strong bond. This group of people is always violent when defending their course (Ogunade 2002, 59).
Following Ogunade’s view, this particular association do their practices secretly, and the orientation that characterizes the thinking is somehow exclusive and sacrosanct. They expletively bound themselves together and are out to strongly resist their course. His definition deeply exposed how tough this particular association looks like. There may be some spiritual engagements attached to their belief and practices. The word Cultism may be referred to as the formation of a group of initiates or adherent round the figure of a god, a saint or even a living being. It may involve the practice of a particular doctrine within the body of religious belief.
Finally, Ogunbameru and Daodu see this issues as, “any form of organization whose activities are not only exclusively kept away from the knowledge of others but such activities are carried out at odd hours of the day and they often clash with accepted norms and values of everyday life” (Ogunbameru 1997, 13). So in this case, Cultist tends to be isolationist, very possessive, involve bizarre rituals, and follow a religious system instituted by a person with a very engaging personality. They institute a religious system that is contrary to the recognised ones. At the same time, they make use of particular rituals, signs, symbols and forms of knowledge which are withheld from non-initiates and these things are regarded as a special source of power though being kept private.
ii. Higher Institution:
Due to the vast meaning of the term “Institution” there is every need to define it according to the context of the research topic. It is generally accepted that institution is an organization founded and united for a specific purpose. In this context, it remains the same but looking at the introduction, the term is so specific. Higher institution as an organisation in this research work refers to as University of any category, which may be college of education, Polytechnics, Undergraduate and post graduate schools etc. It is a school of education generally begin after high or secondary school, usually carried out at a university or college.
II. ORIGIN AND SPREAD OF CULTISM IN NIGERIA HIGHER INSTITUTIONS
It is believed that whatsoever that exist in the world today has a day of its beginning. Scripturally, it is only God and Melchizedek the king of Salem that no one knows their beginning.
Though so many authors have written about the origin of Cultism in Nigeria Higher Institution, but the more expressive one is written by T. Edun. He said,
What is known as secret cult in tertiary institutions started at University College, Ibadan in 1952. It was formed by Nigeria’s only Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Aig-Imoukhuede, Pius Oleghe, Ralph Opara, Nat Oyelola and Prof. Muyiwa Awe. Their main objectives included: To abolish convention, to revive the age chivalry, 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 Pirates Confraternity or the National Association of Seadogs. Their objectives which revolved around the maintenance of polite behaviour among people of different background and chivalry portrayed the dreams of the Founders (Edun 1999, 3).
Following Edun’s view, Cultism started in Nigerian institutions of higher learning with the founding in 1952 of the Pirate Confraternity at the university college of Ibadan. The common ideology which the founding fathers held in allegiance to was the promotion of the dignity of the black man, some authors expressed that the black man’s dignity was then seriously threatened by the discriminatory and oppressive practices of the Colonial government and expatriates.
This cult was formed because, according to the history, Nigeria in the 1940s and 1950s was on the verge of gaining political independence. The nationalistic favour in the country gave a warning signal to the colonialists that the sun was about to set on the British empire. 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 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 Cameroons (NCNC). The idea of students was 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.
Cultism in Nigeria Higher Institution was not born with a bad motive or bad intention; it was as a result of fighting for justice and setting a lasting legacy. Wole Soyinka as a prominent person and a lover of this great nation would not institute whatever thing he knew that would be so hazardous to the future of this nation.
To show that the founding fathers of this very group acted with the vision of founding such an organisation, T. Edun wrote, “Pirate Confraternity commanded the respect and admiration of many people. Some years after the graduation of the founding fathers, internal wrangling and power tussle began to rent the organization as other similar organizations were formed such as Buccaneers, Eiye confraternity in 1968, Black Axe 1970 and others” (Edun 1999, 5). Edun’s expression indicated the kind of successful this very group was as at beginning, especially in the time of the founding fathers. But it is said that, when a man with vision is not available, the visionless man may take the lead, but the focus may not be the same.
The vision changed immediately after the graduation of the founding fathers of this very organisation, some kinds of power intoxication began to manifest, to the extent that it later resulted to the creation of some of other similar organisations. Some other issues and mindsets began to spring out of these new groups, even some individual problems led to the creation of some of the secret cults. As S. A. Aje tries to identify some factors that caused secret cult in Nigeria Institution which include, “economic handicap of some students in school, ticket to abuse education that is, abuse of quota system, examination malpractices and others, students’ politics, social recognition, unfettered heartlessness and group protection” (Aje 2001, 29).
Sequel to Aje’s view, Ogunsanya reported that “Cultism on campus emerged as a result of social unacceptable behaviour of media explosion, importation of foreign culture, the internet and junk magazine inclusive which overwhelm the Youths so that they fall prey to their effect” (Ogunsanya 2000, 79). So, these students joined the secret cults on the campuses in order to carry out terrorist activities, perpetrate drug peddling on campuses and may be to act as god-fathers, providing security service to new inititates, and generally shielding from oppressive students and the perceived aggression and hostility of their wicked lecturers
But then, how did this very organisation spread to the extent of having some grievous effects to the nation itself? Gathering from many views, the research shows that the early nineties witnessed a boom as every university was plagued with cult explosion such as the Black Axe, Black Cats, Trojan Horse, Black Panthers, the Twelve Disciples, Mgba Mgba Brothers, Eiye, 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. So the horrorful and worrisome dimension of Cultism this nation is witnessing in her higher institution came out in view in early 1990s which many criminal activities including murder arson, armed robbery and rape are frequently linked to their members, and lack of discipline. To that extent therefore, many of the purported Cultists are actually Gangsters or members of crime syndicates hiding under the umbrella of certain Secret Cults or societies.
III. EFFECTS OF CULTISM IN NIGERIA HIGHER INSTITUTIONS
Indeed, the institutions of higher learning which ought to be ideal places for the training of minds have become war zones where cult groups unleash their terror in the community. Though, the emergence of cult groups in our tertiary institutions was not a result of divine disobedience, but a precipitate of socio-economic conflicts, conflicts that were energized by the capitalist character of our mode of production. Now, this had led to some devastations of life and properties, some futures have been terminated due to the menace of cultism in Nigeria higher institutions.
According to U. K. Ogbu, “Cultism is an evil association which puts bondage on its members and denies them of personal liberty. The share imagination of cultism is evil” (Ogbu 2001, 19). Of a truth, looking at Ogbu’s view, Cultists kill and maim. They have no lofty objective, and the only language they express very well is “violence”.
J. F. Egbule reported that,
In the event of fighting rival groups, they kill one another. Parents, relations and friends lose loved ones. Parents who had spent all their resources to bring up their children and wards for dependence at old age live the remaining part of their lives unhappy, frustrated and full of regrets. Cultists when identified are rusticated for years and in most cases are expelled from their institutions. All school authorities and the federal government outlaw cultism. The expelled cultists end up as drop-outs from school. Their lives thereafter are ruled by unfulfilled dreams (Egbule 2006, 91).
Egbule’s report shows that Cultism in Nigeria institutions have led to frustration of many lives despite the huge amount of money wasted for their university training, some of the drop-outs become armed robbers, prostitutes and drug-peddlers. The society suffers in terms of fall in morals. Identified cultists lose credibility in the eyes of the entire school community. Many reasonable people may not want to identify with them. They are often isolated and never given any position which demands a lot of trust and dignity. This stigma remains with them for a very long time, even till death. Cultists apprehended by security operatives are treated as criminals, like armed robbers. They are killed like animals and their corpses displayed with no respect which a normal human being would have deserved, and they lose their individuality and liberty to live normal life.
Coming to the effects on the institution itself, it is discovered that Some cult clashes are so catastrophic that loss of infrastructure and other resources will be colossal and eventually the funds that would have been expended on the provision of other facilities and infrastructure 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. Furthermore, the news of such an evil practice destroys the image of the school to the extent that people may be seeing it as a den of immorality.
A. Onodarho wrote on some influence on the nation as a whole by saying that “Cult members in Nigeria Higher Institution seriously abuse drugs. Indian hemp, cocaine, heroin, alcohol and so on are freely shared and used in their meetings. It is under the influence of these drugs that they seem to do all the killings without any human feeling and remorse” (Onodarho 1999, 30). Sequel to what Onodarho wrote, rape and all forms of sexual abuses are common practices among cult members. They expose themselves to HIV infection and also spread HIV to innocent persons. This is because they frequently organise sex parties.
Another effect people do under emphasise is that cult problems like killing, extortion, rape, and maiming, stealing and other social vices in our tertiary institutions have permanently imprinted in the mind of the average Nigeria. 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.
IV. THE RESPONSES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHURCH TOWARDS CULTISM IN NIGERIA HIGHER INSTITUTION
Cultism is a social crime and the activities of cultists are sometimes laden with blood. Through the cultist’s activities, many lives have been lost, many people maimed and many students have been rusticated. Some people have openly declared that cultism is as worst as armed robbery. Churches in Nigeria did not relax over it, they have responded positively to it in order to eradicate it or at least, to curb it. The church did not fail to teach the Biblical truth toward cult practice and exposing the dangers that come after it.
According to Monthly News Letter Magazine produced by the Anglican Diocese of Amichi titled “Sure Anchor News”. A post by the Magazine editor on the topic “Eradicating Corruption in Our Tertiary Institution” declares that. The editor tries to convince the readers that Cultism is like devoting someone’s heart and mind to the manipulation of the Devil. The editor wrote,
It is not that our children in Higher Institutions are not aware that such evil exists, but the god of this age has blindfolded their eyes... The enemy has stolen their mind in order to frustrate their future... It is only when they may allow the Spirit of God to penetrate and convince their heart, then their deliverance is assured. It is the same Christ that died for us all (Chukwuemeka 2010, 3)
Churches in Nigeria have followed and are still following other approaches in response to the issue at hand. Some approaches like;
a. Creating awareness in the institutions that Jesus alone is the way
Due to the fact that many students join cult in order to guide and guard themselves, and some thinking that it is the best solution to all their school problems, Churches in Nigeria have been trying their possible best to convince the students that Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life. They do this by writing and spreading fliers written on that subject. Pastor Iduko M. G. of redeemed church of God Akure quarter responding to an interview by David Madubuko on “the responses of the church towards some violence caused by Cult students in Nigeria Higher Institutions” said, “It cost us over five hundred thousand naira per year... but the joy in our hearts is that after everything, we see the results more than we expected” (Madubuko 2006, 41).
This indicates that the church, through this avenue create awareness to the school, convincing them and winning many for Christ.
b. Church Planting in the campuses and other areas.
Taking Federal Polytechnic Oko for example; There are about four churches within the campus and many churches and fellowship quarters in almost all the areas where students live, at least one of us researchers who have served in one of these churches confessed that indeed, those churches are doing marvellous works and their denominational leaders do send ministers who are spiritually loaded and highly intellectual having in mind that it is a big task.
Dr. Marvellous Otubong decodes the secret behind his ministry in Federal University of Port-Harcourt. He said
The secret behind my ministry in Uniport is that, I was seriously tortured by the cultist when I was a student of this institution. Despite all they could do, I refused to give up because I had a covenant with my God on the day of my matriculation. But on my graduation day, God spoke to me... that he is sending me back to the institution as an instrument of revival...(Otubong 1988, 63).
Dr. Odubong was one of the persons that planted an individual church in Uniport, his book expressed very well the need that church of today and other Christian organisations will rise against the corruption and other evil practices that are in the high rate in Nigeria Higher Institutions.
c. Advice the Government and Protest when necessary
The church had responded positively in a more serious way, by putting their efforts to advice the Government on how to handle the students of higher institutions in order to desist from spoiling the image of this nation. In response to this, in the communiqué from the standing committee of the church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The Most Revd. Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, said,
The ogre of corruption continues to roam free in Nigeria higher institution and has taken virtually everything from us leaving us with little consolation. It has taken from Nigerians the respect and honour that they deserve from other nations... Corruption is pervasive in the lecture rooms, laboratory rooms, school block or hostels, on the high ways, and even in the sports arena. We must remove this monster from our land. We call Nigeria citizens, religious leaders and levels of governments to resist this ogre and intensify the war against corruption to save and secure a better and more fruitful future for Nigeria. (Mgbemena ed. 2011, 56).
The church will go ahead as this is one of her responsibility by advising the government to make some laws against this evil practice. They should remind the government to have a definite legislation that will give a death sentence to anybody found guilty of cult activities in the campuses, or a very severe punishment to the person. They should advice that moral education should be made compulsory in the primary and secondary institution in this country because it is believed that when someone’s faith is deep-rooted in God, he will hardly accept to join such evil gangs. Finally, the church should put suggestion that Cultism and its consequences should be treated in the General Studies courses in all tertiary institutions in the country.
d. Organizing seminars and other related gatherings for Higher Institutions by Christian Association of Nigeria.
As of this date, a lot of information manuals have displayed the input of CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) dealing with the issue of cultism in the Nigeria Higher institutions and other organizations in order to safeguard the future of Nigeria youths and the spiritual life of students. They have organised some kinds of seminars and conferences teaching against it and alerting the minds of the students on the dangers of indulging in such a game.
The secret cults and gangsterism in Nigerian Higher Institutions make a lot of negative contribution to moral development if students. 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 youghts, who are the trustees of posterity, are trained in such a milieu, nothing then awaits such a nation but future that is built and strives on violence.
The problems of secret cults in Nigeria campuses are many and complex, but workable solutions are few. Institutional framework for social justice, equitable distribution of national wealth and democratic order of the society had collapsed. It is time to analyse and challenge the assumptions and offers new and carefully conceived blueprints for rebuilding Nigerian Campuses in particular and the Nigerian society in general. It must be stated at this point that some cult denunciations organised by Vice Chancellors of the nations universities were not only an exercise in futility but a grandiose exercise in public deception as these VCs were under pressure from the Government to keep their jobs and they found wily-nily collaborators in their students who came out, denouncing cults they never belong to. The existence of these cults can never be exterminated by such an exercise that reeks of heavy financial inducement, psychological manipulation and draconian laws as cultism subsists and escalates on our campuses not because of the absence of penal legislation that spell out sanctions but a manifestations of the disfunctionality of the society. The socio-economic and political contradictions that inhere in the Nigerian society cannot but generate recourse to cultism. Cultism is not only present in the tertiary institutions but in all levels of educational system and a lasting solution to the problem, therefore, lies outside the purview of draconian las and naked show. The Church though appreciated for their contributions, should arise to the challenge because God has mounted her as the light to the Gentiles. “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5).