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Prevalence of Cultism in Nigerian Universities and educational underdevelopment

By Nduka Val

Cult activities in many Nigerian Universities are as old as the Universities themselves. In other words, Cultism could be said to have started in Nigeria in the early fifties, shortly after the founding of the first University in the country, University College Ibadan, by Wole Soyinka and seven other gentlemen, as pioneers(Between Cultism and Democracy, by Nwosu Chimereze, 1999, p21).
Cultism in a nutshell, as contained in the 7th Edition of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, is an activity of a small group of people who have extreme religious beliefs and who are not part of anyone established religion. This could also mean a system of religious beliefs and practices, example, the Chinese Cult of ancestor worship.
Cult, according to social scientists is ” a system of belief, emotions and rites involved, associated with the object, individual centred minority religious group and less organized than a sect”
Looking at the above derived definitions of cult/ Cultism, object, beliefs, practices and an organization are extremely featured, which usually present their action as religious. In this regard, all members of a particular cult, be it in a University, locally and professionally are compulsorily made to obey the existing rules guiding the body.
Recapturing the brief history of Cultism at the University College Ibadan, as its germinating base, before its expansion into other Nigerian Universities, it is pertinent to state here that Soyinka and other founding members of National Association Of Seadogs,( a.k.a Pirates Confraternity), as the first University cult in existence, truly had a positive agendum in mind for its formation before the devil implanted a different motive into their members, as the founded body began to multiply in membership and structure.
Obviously, the aim of the founding pillars of the Seadog confraternity was to fight against an existing lecturers’ sexual harassment of the female students and other vices in the Universities, but with the leadership tussle that engulfed the fomost body–Seadog Confraternity in 1972, which eventually defeated such a beautifully held objective, thereby giving rise to the formation of other factional groups .These included Vikings, Neo-Black Movement, Black Beret, Ku Klux Klan(KKK), Maphites, Mafians and a host of others( Between Cultism and Democracy by Nwosu Chimereze, Reze publications, PH, p22).
It is not out of place to say that Cultism exists in both Primary and post primary institutions, but for the purpose of this article, it is centred on Nigerian Universities. In this modern days, it has been discovered that most people who join one secret cult or the other at the University level may have had one form of training or the other at the lower educational levels before securing admission.
Meanwhile, there are certain identificational materials usually displayed by different cult members. Some of these materials include:Caps, Tee-shirts and pendants with different colours. They also have different patterns of handshake s and spoken languages for their members.
Many people truly understand the reason for branding such an organization in any University campus a secret cult. This is because all its activities are executed in secrecy with a very exclusive network system that is quite unique to only her members within a particular operational unit, without the knowledge of non-members. For instance, the initiation of cult members in any meeting ground is usually done at late nights, while many innocent persons may have slept off to avoid any interference from any security operatives or non- members.
So many reasons have been adduced to the prevalence of Cultism in many present Nigerian Universities. Some of these are as follows: curiosity of youths towards experimentation; Peer group influence; unquenchable desire to find a solution to a disturbing problem; deceitful brain-washing of the youths and absence of home peace.
Some undergraduates in various Nigerian Universities usually join secret cults to satisfy their curiosity of experimentation in life. Due to a curious state of an undergraduate to explore some hidden activities surrounding a particular organization like a cult group in a university, where it is believed that a solution is embedded, one may be induced to join.
The influence from a peer group is a possible factor encouraging an undergraduate to join a secret cult in any University. This is always made possible where some of his former group members or friends are in one cult organization or the other. This situation may likely propel his entry into a secret cult, so as to enable him enjoy some promised deceitful rewards. This false script is usually given to an undergraduate by a particular peer group before his entry into the university.
Some youths also join cult in the Universities because they are eager to solve one existing home problem or the other, particularly, when there has been a prolonged home crisis which may aggravate his intimidation and victimization by some people. Also, owing to an ongoing intimidation of an undergraduate in a particular University by his fellow students who are members of a secret cult, he may be forced to join a different cult group to revenge such an experienced humiliation .
In some cases, some undergraduates may join a secret cult with a view to establishing a good relationship with some “big boys and the influencial authorities in the Universities.
In all ramifications, no amount of reasons perceived to be contributing to youths or undergraduates enlisting into any secret cultn in any Nigerian University or beyond will be justifiable enough to allow its operations go on unchallenged in our universities because of its perpetrated practices.
Going by the second leg of this article, the impact of cultism on our university educational development must not be left untouched. Without mincing words, too many negative activities of secret cult members in our universities have perforated our universities in many unimaginable ways. Cultism in our universities has succeeded in causing pre-mature termination of the lives of some intelligent Nigerian undergraduates who ordinarily should have become great assets in the future development of university education in the country.
Periodic inter – cult clashes in many Nigerian Universities have brought about the total maiming and deformation of many undergraduates in the early part of their educational career and thereby ending their university educational goal attainment in life. Among those in this self- inflicted condition could have become great scholars tomorrow to help in developing the future system.
It is important to mention here that some undergraduates who met their untimely death during their university education were known to be the only child or son of their families and such a situation might have led to early death of their parents.
Also, inter- secret cult clashes in our universities have drastically affected academic calendar, owing to series of University closures that force students to vacate campuses. This unfortunate experience has increased the psychological imbalance of many innocent students and their attendant effects on Nigerian Universities. In same vein, many brilliant students have abruptly ended their studies due to regular experienced academic disruptions.
In conclusion, many recommendations are hereby needed to address the issue of Cultism and University educational underdevelopment in Nigeria. Some of them are: there must be a strong cultivated religious foundation for youths in their individual homes before their entry into the universities; there should be an establishment of special court by government to try any caught cult members in a speedy manner; their should be adequate equipping of Anti – cult security operatives with modern facilities and logistics for the acceleration of their duties; Lecturers and Heads of tertiary institutions found to be sponsoring and aiding cultism in universities must not be allowed to go unpunished and plain clothed security operatives should be attached to various university hostels for security actions.
With the provision of the above recommendations in this article, much will be achieved and full university educational normalcy will be restored.


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