It the rate cult activities are trending among the country’s youth population, if not effectively checked, Nigeria may not have the generation to bequeath her future to. Until recently, cultism was thought to be a problem among students of tertiary institutions. But that has frighteningly changed as the bug has bit secondary school students and even their junior counterparts in the primary schools.
Just last week, a 15-year-old Senior Secondary School 11 pupil was arrested with a locally made pistol in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. He was apprehended while in school uniform by vigilante group members who were on patrol.
Also, as part of efforts to curb the menace of cultists in the state, Akwa Ibom State government banned a number of known cult groups and their activities which were believed to be responsible for some security breaches in parts of the state.
A lot of factors have been attributed to this unwholesome development. Primary among these is peer group influence, a social tendency that is known to lure young people into certain behaviours in their quest to ‘belong.’ It is not enough to dismiss them as social deviants. That, definitely, is too academic, simplistic and unhelpful. They may not have been born that way. Something or somebody is responsible for the way their lives turn out to be.
This is where the attitude of parents towards the upbringing of their wards come in for examination. The craze for material things often becloud their sense of responsibility towards their children who are left in the hands of maids, nannies and so on, those who are not, strictly speaking, better than the children themselves.
Divine and human traditions expect parents to raise their children well for the simple reason that the family is the nucleus of the society. Many of the societal ills bedevilling our world today are traceable to the failure of parents to leave up to their responsibility which includes instilling the right moral value in their wards. Such parents hardly show interest in the educational/academic progress of their children let alone the company and friends they keep. Experts insist that a child’s parental and home background, including involvement in similar activities, may influence a child’s participation in cult activities.
Apart from peer group influence, it is also on record that in some institutions, officials play the role of grand patron to some cult groups and also sponsor them. The student-cultists are used against several members of the community for selfish reasons.
In addition, the jet age has not helped matters for the youth. Most of them are exposed to uncontrolled and uncensored media where they pick up presumably dirty acts that influence their lives. But no sane-minded person who, having witnessed the gory bloodshed that prevailed in the academic institutions from the late seventies till date, will support cultism of any kind and under any guise.
Secret cult was known to be at its peak in tertiary institutions, not any more. The social vice is eating up the educational and moral standard of students. Innocent ones are being lured into the vice and other social malaise such as drug abuse, armed robbery, murder etc.
Their activities are shrouded in secrecy–thus the name “secret cult”, and kept away from other members of the society or non-members of the group. Secret cults carry out their meetings when people are not aware of, especially during the odd-hours and far away from residences.
This newspaper is alarmed that the issue of secret cults which seemed to have been dealt with in the past, is beginning to rear its ugly head again and in a very dramatic way. We still shudder as we recall the gory killings that have been carried out in states like Lagos, Rivers and elsewhere.
But the situation, in our opinion, is not all that hopeless. There can still be a remedy if parents, assuming they are not cultists themselves, strive to enforce discipline in their children. They should adopt good parenting styles, have time for their children, visit them at schools and monitor the ‘friends’ they associate with.
School authorities, presently wringing their hands in utter helplessness over parents and society’s reaction to discipline, should nevertheless find a way to do their job of mentoring the wards in their care. We also suggest that school curriculum should also include teaching against cultism.
Schools, religious houses, parents, students, government, non-governmental organisations and the society as a whole should, as a way of finding solution to the disturbing situation, wage an unrelenting war against cultism through seminars, workshops, campaigns, and talks. The dangers associated with it should be made known to the young ones involved in a manner that will prick their consciences and deter them from meddling in it.