BY OSAHON IDEMUDIA
When Wole Soyinka and six of his friends formed the National Association of Seadogs popularly called Pyrates Confraternity, their purpose of forming it was noble.
The seven friends, also known as the ‘magnificent seven’ in Pyrate Confraternity, formed the cult group when they were students of University College, Ibadan, now known as the University of Ibadan in 1952.
Their objectives of birthing the novel cult group in Nigeria were to evoke Pan Africanism among students and also to fight oppression meted on poor students by their wealthy counterparts.
For twenty years, Pyrate Confraternity held sway in university campuses across the country with members selected among the brightest students who were keen on furthering the objectives of the founding fathers of the cult group.
As years passed by, other cult groups were founded by students who didn’t want to be part of Pyrate Confraternity but were interested in pushing their own ideologies. As cult groups like Black Axe, Eiye, Buccaneers, Black Bra, etc, were formed. They became radicalized due to the inability of their top executives to monitor their initiation processes.
A few years down the line, members of these cult groups started bearing arms, getting involved in clashes between rival cult groups, perpetrating violent crimes like killing, maiming, and kidnapping. Their members also get involved in crimes like intimidation, extortion, and oppression within the campuses and environs in Nigeria.
As the menaces perpetrated by members of several cult groups festered, non students were recruited as members. This aggravated the violence, which used to be within the campuses and environs of higher institutions to the streets. Bus drivers and conductors, street urchins, revenue collectors, artisans, etc. were targeted for initiations, and the violence that resulted as a result of this anomaly became catastrophic.
The killings and maiming link to cult activities are not only limited to their members, relatives and other innocent people have been victims of their dastardly attacks. There have been cases where pedestrians have fallen to the bullets of cultists. One Miss Happy Ibrahim, a final year student of Auchi Polytechnic, was killed by a stray bullet from cultists who gunned down a rival cult member.
The negative effects of the violence associated with cultism are affecting the socioeconomic life of the most state in Nigeria. For example, killings and beheadings are usually carried out by cult groups in Rivers state. As a matter of fact, the erstwhile governor of Rivers state Nyesom Wike outlawed 101 cult groups in Rivers last year. Last month, ten people lost their lives to cult killings in Edo state. These killings are spread across most states of the Federation.
Ways To Arrest The Violence Associated With Cultism
As I earlier stated at the beginning of this article, cultism was not evil at the formation of the early cult groups. The objectives of the founding fathers of cult groups were noble.
However, the altruism associated with the conceptualization of cultism in Nigerian campuses has been eroded and replaced with evil agendas by evil minded people who derive pleasure in killing and maiming people.
Top executives of cult groups must meet every month to give a debrief of the implementation of the reforms of their respective cult groups. These monthly meetings must comprise past top executives of cult groups, government officials, security agencies, school authorities, and other relevant stakeholders. These stakeholders will brainstorm and state if their implementation exercise is in order or needs to be reviewed.
However, the government needs to bring down the weight of the law on the cult members responsible for the violence associated with cultism. The primary responsibilities of a responsible government are the protection of lives and properties. So, the government needs to equip several law enforcement agencies with the wherewithal to fish out the killers in several cult groups and bring them to justice.
Moreover, parents need to sit up and begin to equip their children with the right moral values. Frankly speaking, the violence that have characterized the activities of cult groups in Nigeria expose the parental failures to their children. I doubt that a child will stray and become a threat to society when he becomes an adult if he is raised with the right values. Parents need to stand up and raise their kids with the fear of God.
Furthermore, religious and traditional institutions have a huge role of play in curbing the menace of cult killings in Nigeria.
Religious institutions are like the moral compass of society. They promote religious values that frown at social vices, and violence is one of them. The government should partner with relevant stakeholders in religious institutions to continue to preach against violence to their adherents. This can go a long way in curbing cult related violence in society.
Traditional institutions are the custodians of our cultural values and traditions. Traditional institutions can play a key role in sensitizing the youth on the dangers of cult rated violence while promoting African culture and traditions.
Pioneer members and older members of all the court groups should get in touch with the top executives of various cult groups on how to reform the various cult groups. It is very imperative that cult groups in Nigeria need to be reformed because 98% of them have strayed from the ideas of their founding fathers. Cult groups need to go back to the purposes by which they were formed. Their initiation processes also need to be reviewed. Non students should stop being recruited by executives of cult members across the country.
As part of efforts to curb cult related violence, the government should give amnesty to cultists who have been involved in violence and renounce violence. The government set up skill acquisition centers where these repentant cultists can learn skills and be paid stipends for their upkeep. This can be another ingenious way of helping to get rid of violent cult related violence.
The government should carry out the sensitization of our youths on the dangers of cult related violence through mass media by relevant government agencies, especially national orientation agencies. Print, electronic, and new media are veritable tools for the sensitization of our youths.
Rallies can also be held to sensitive our youths on the dangers of cult related violence. Former revenue czar Comrade Tony Kabaka took to the streets of Benin in the company of his ‘men’ to campaign against cult killings in the capital of Edo state and its environs.
Edo state Governor Godwin Obaseki is mulling the idea of partnering with social media influencers to help raise awareness on the scourge of cult violence in the state.
The most potent ways of fighting against cult violence by the government are through the provision of jobs. As the saying goes, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. If our youths are gainfully engaged, most of them will stay away from cultism and it’s violence. The government should create skill acquisition centres that will open up opportunities for youths to learn various skills. The government can also partner with ICT firms that can help to teach our youths tech skills in order to meet up with the information and technological advancements in the world.
Lastly, our security agencies, especially the police are overstretched, and some of them lack the required manpower to provide security for the citizen. It is important that governors should invest in local vigilantes that can also help to boost their respective states. These local vigilante groups can collaborate with the security agencies in order to curb the menaces of cult related killings in their states.
IDEMUDIA (COACH O), is UK based, Youths Worker with a passion for youth engagement and reaching out to the traumatised