How difficult was it researching into the problem of cultism in Nigeriaâ€™s tertiary institutions? As matter of personal philosophy of life, I prefer not to see any obstacles or impossibilities in the things I do. It is only in utopian world where you cannot have problems. Obstacles are certain in life, the most significant issue is the ability to overcome it. Anyway, it was the most tasking and perilous mission in my life. As we all know, cultism in Nigerian institutions of higher learning is not a childâ€™s play. It takes a professional with wisdom, carefulness and tactics to detonate a bomb without getting blown. First, I had to interact with cultists at different levels â€” campuses, local, state and national â€” because they were the primary source of my research. We had to connect with some through personal contacts, investigative journalism, networking, infiltrations, etc, to be in their actual world. Some were approachable while others were not. Trends vary from campuses to campuses in respect to the locality and the management stance. My team and I travelled to various campuses and environs for our investigative work. It was so capital intensive and cumbersome. It took us several years to complete the work. We almost lost our lives but thanks be to God we are alive today.
Now, with your research, what do you think is responsible for the increase in cult activities in tertiary institutions?
Power corrupts while absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are two things a man cannot hide, when heâ€™s drunk and when he is in love. He is always moved to show that he is either in love or drunk. This is the same reason behind the various cult clashes in our various academic settings. Their new found realm is intoxicating and must be manifested. A critical look shows that supremacy, revenge, show off, parental failure in moral and financial responsibility, indiscipline among youths, etc. are the contributing factors to violence on campuses.
So, do you think cultism can be eradicated or reduced on our campuses?
Yes, it can be eradicated or reduced, though this is not the belief of some schools of thought. Should we then fold our hands and watch our youths, the future hope of our beloved nation, get destroyed due to cultism? No! We have seen its avalanches of impacts and a drastic measure needs to be taken to save the lives and future of these youths. We all have to put a stop to their dastardly acts and to avoid its proliferation to other institutions. Preventive and management measures can be taken to have safe academic communities.
What do you mean by preventive and management measures?
We have two significant issues to review assertively before the eradication of cultism/gangsterism could be a thing of the past in Nigerian institutions. One, the cultists have inner conflict, intra and inter cults conflict, cultists conflict with the academic communities, inhabitants and the society, all these need to be meticulously looked into and resolved one at a time before any headway could be achieved. This requires good management measures of the existing situation to encourage conflict resolution within the individual, among the various cults groups by making them understand that love and understanding, and not violence, is the way forward. Secondly, those who have not joined these illicit groups and are prone to joining, need to be well-informed and prepared to say no from an informed perspective rather than claim ignorance. The process of disseminating the right information to them through the right literatures, seminars, plays, crusades, individual or organisations just like what Community Leadership Initiative is doing in various universities, polytechnics, NCEâ€™s and secondary schools, is important.
Now, in what ways can the problem of cultism be a thing of the past?
First, we have to identify the problem associated with cultism. We have the problem of some cultists renouncing their membership of cult groups. Most cultists we interacted with actually want to renounce but are scared. Some are scared about the stigma associated with being a former cultist, some are scared of intimidation from their fellow cult members. Denouncing of cultism has to do with the preventive measures which I had earlier talked on.
Who are, therefore, the main beneficiaries of your works?
The academic communities across the geo-political zones of the country that are being ravaged by activities of cult groups, are the main beneficiaries.
Destiny Emmanuel is the author of Beyond Vanity, a book that highlights the negative impact of cultism on Nigeriaâ€™s educational system. In this interview with Adewale Oshodi, he speaks on his research on cultism in tertiary institutions and how cultism can be curbed through collective efforts. Excerpts:
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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