Cultism is a phenomenon that has plagued Nigeria for decades, leading to numerous violent clashes, deaths, and the destruction of properties. This practice is prevalent among students in higher institutions of learning, but it has also infiltrated other sectors of society. The issue of cultism in Nigeria is a cause for concern as it threatens the peace and security of the nation. Despite the efforts of the government, schools, and the general public to curb this menace, cultism remains a major problem in the country. In this topic, we will explore the concept of cultism, its origin, the various types of cult groups in Nigeria, the impact of cultism on society, and ways to tackle this issue.

Meaning of Cult 

A Cult: A cult is an organized group of individuals who come together to address issues they believe the larger society is unable to solve. These groups often have a specific ideology, set of beliefs, and practices that unite their members.

Secret Cults: Secret cults are groups whose objectives and activities are kept hidden from the public and are only known to their members. These organizations often involve a strict code of conduct, requiring members to take an oath of secrecy and commitment to the group’s cause. Secret cults operate in a secretive manner, often shrouded in mystery, which adds to their allure and attracts individuals seeking to escape the constraints of mainstream society.

   Origin of Cultism in Nigeria

The roots of cultism can be traced back to the pirate confraternity established by Nobel Prize winner Professor Wole Soyinka and other notable figures such as Prof. Olumuyiwa Awe, Ralph Opara, Nathaniel Oyelola, Ifegbale Amata, among others. The word “pirate” is derived from the Latin term “attacker”. This group was formed in 1953 at University College Ibadan with the noble aim of combating tribalism and colonialism in Nigeria. However, the group has since become associated with acts of violence, killing, rituals, physical abuse during initiation, and attacking non-members such as lecturers and students, among others. The group’s once patriotic and progressive intentions have now been overshadowed by these negative associations.

Causes of Cultism

  • The impact of peer pressure: Numerous students are swayed by close friends whom they feel obligated to follow.
  • The desire for authority: A significant number of young individuals in Nigeria are drawn to cults in pursuit of power, as they wish to command respect and fear from their teachers, lecturers, and peers. Additionally, they seek to power to shield themselves from being oppressed or dominated by others.
  • Seeking protection: For some young people, joining a cult provides a sense of security and protects them from any form of harassment from their lecturers or other members.
  • Search for love: Many youths join cults in search of camaraderie and the love of their fellow members.

Effects of Cultism

  • The decline in the quality of education: Lecturers who are intimidated by cult members grant grades to cult members readily to secure their own safety.
  • Suppression of the vulnerable: Cult members exert power over non-members and restrict their rights within the school environment.
  • Disruption of law and order: Cultism results in violent acts, such as killing and fighting, and can cause chaos and unrest on campus. This puts the safety of innocent students at risk and undermines the peace and stability of the school.
  • Difficulty in maintaining discipline: School authorities often struggle to impose discipline on cult members due to the fear of retaliation, leading to a breakdown of law and order and a general lack of discipline within the school community.

Solutions to The Problem of Cultism in Schools

  • It is important for students to exercise caution when choosing friends as the company they keep can have a significant impact on their behaviour and habits.
  • The government should take a strong stance against campus cultism by classifying it as a criminal offence and imposing severe consequences for those who participate in such activities.
  • Parents also have a critical role to play in the upbringing of their children from an early age by providing them with guidance and support.
  • There should be increased efforts to educate the public about the dangers of cultism through widespread campaigns and programs.
  • Religious organizations, particularly Christians and Muslims, can play an important role by organizing activities and programs aimed at engaging and supporting young people.

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