Tackling Cultism Among Nigerian Youth- By Macaulay Tolulope Martha
Cultism is a menace to the society and it is popularly linked to tertiary institutions since it originated from there. Otherwise, it is also rampant among lay people.
Cultism is defined as the activities or practices of a group of people who come together to form an alliance with common social, religious, philosophical or political beliefs. A cult group is more recognized for its secret, dangerous and life-threatening activities carried out by its members in the society. Violence is their common belief.
It is a group really frowned at by law in the Nigerian government and specific laws like the charge of felony and seven years imprisonment of anyone guilty of or in support of any unlawful criminal association in the state have been imposed.
No longer is the existence of a cult positively beneficial as in the days of its inception, rather, it is socially harmful and criminal. The evil effects of cultism are not stereotypes. It should be noted that those who indulge in cultism never come out unscathed, one way or the other.
The origin of cultism is not far-fetched and it was popularly known to be pioneered by Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Bolaji Carew and five others in 1952 while they were still students at the University College Ibadan. They called themselves “The Magnificent Seven” and named their group The Pyrates Confraternity. Their group, though a cult was unimaginably non-violent, compared to present day cultism. It was a gathering formed by these socially deprived students.
Prof. Wole Soyinka and his crew held a stance against social intimidation from the wealthier students who had colonial back up and connection who used it against other students. The Pyrates Confraternity stood up against all forms of tribalism, nepotism, colonial and elitist intimidation that were social barriers, employing non-violent methods and peaceful dispute resolutions and striving for social equality.
Surprisingly, The Pyrates Confraternity has been one of the few known cults that strived for peace in their time. All others have posed as a threat to human life in the society. They are vacuums known to have sucked away young lives.
Some higher institutions are most feared with rampant cases of cultism rampant. Stereotype or not, it is a dreaded choice every morally upright individual never opts for to obtain a degree from cult infested university.
In fact, cultism has permeated into Nigerian secondary schools, the public schools most of all, making a nuisance out of young children that have ironically been prophesied to be the leaders of tomorrow. In reference to leaders, the media have exposed to us severally how rich and influential politicians vying for political posts employ cultists and area boys to oppress and intimidate citizens who supposedly have political rights backed by the Nigerian law.
Eventually, these politicians are the ones who get hold of political power and then what happens to cultism? Even lecturers and Vice Chancellors have been reported to be backbones of cultists in their institutions, which approves the popular saying: “If you can’t beat them, you join them.”
Apart from the tertiary setting, cultists admit unsuspecting citizens in the society. Mid 2016, several deaths were recorded in Lagos, where victims were families. Everyone in a family gets murdered in cold blood, their corpses mutilated, their remains to be used for rituals by the Badoo cult responsible for their murders.
Other cults of such are the Boko Haram bombers and the Fulani Herdsmen killers which have now been major features by which Nigeria is recognized. These groups of people have evidently been responsible for thousands of innocent deaths and kidnapping, young and old. They also pose as a threat to the future of coming generations. Over the years of their sinister activities, the government has remained equivocal in bringing these people to book and the masses are confused at what step the government hopes to take against them while these killings still remain incessant till date.
Drug abuse which is now a trend among youths is also a great catalyst for cultism. The abuse of substances like codine, tramadol, marijuana, hard drinks and others are in vogue, used by youths to get high and daring to engage in nefarious acts. Nothing can be a more advantage to cultism. They give their users extraordinary strength to be more brutal and unscrupulous. Therefore, there’s a tendency for those who indulge in drugs to be cultists. It is an easier avenue to express power over others.
Individuals are also tempted into cultism in many other ways. It can be through peer pressure, insecurity,poverty, covetousness, thirst for power, force or by their intellectual endowment. It can be through lies.
It was reported that these Badoo cult lure members by posting fake job vacancies and then forcing them to stay with the promise of large amounts of money and by taking oaths that are irrevocable. This is likened to what happens in cults in institutions. Such membership are not quite easy to quit, as an attempt means death on the part of the individual and so cult members give their loyalty to their very last breath.
Cultism is a fight for life and power. Their common belief, their oath is what they live for. Cultists get power-drunk, hungry for more and they kill mercilessly those who stand in their way. They live precariously, expectant of danger and death all their lives. It is the lot they have chosen to live for; cultism is the survival of the fittest.
Several schools like Unilorin, Unibadan, OAU and the likes have done great jobs in wiping out this societal threat. The Nigerian government has also done well in placing huge penalties on unlawful activities and even the Lagos state enforcement agency has also done well in putting away the Badoo cult, as they have been quiet for a while now. Cultism in tertiary institutions are now considered a thing of the past. Few remnants of cultism are not really obvious.
But the question still remains: What about the Boko Haram and Herdsmen killings, can they be totally done away with?, what about the delayed and perverted justice of various cultists and their underground backbones? or drug abuse that’s on the increase, which serves as a strong link to cultism?
These questions cannot continue to be evaded. If substance abuse is not nipped in the bud early enough, then probably cultism is not really kicked out of the society but about to begin another phase entirely.
Macaulay Tolulope Martha
Mass Communication Department
University of Ilorin