July 10, 1999 is an unforgettable day, that left an indelible mark in the history of this great citadel of learning, OAU.
Cultism is derived from the Latin word ‘Occulere’ meaning something hidden, concealed, mystical, secret, etc. Cult is described a group following an unorthodox religious or philosophical systems of beliefs.
Cultism in Nigeria, started in 1952. Nobel Laureate Profession Wole Soyinka and six others, namely: Olumuyiwa Awe, Ralph Opara, Tunji Tubi, Aig Imokhude, Pius Olegbe and Olu Agunloye were the founding fathers. The seven of them, students of University of Ibadan then, came together to form the ‘seadog confraternity (aka pirate)’; with the aim to fight convention, tribalism, ethnicism and revive the social lives of students on campus. The group was open to bright and politically conscious students. The ‘seadog confraternity’ later disintegrated into several factions in the early 1970s, accoding to the opinion of some, due to doctrinal differences and the inability of intending members to meet the required rigorous standards of the original group, especially as universities rapidly increased in the country, from the 1960s and beyond. Some of the notable factions include: Black Axe, Buccaneers, Eiye confraternity, Daughters of Jezebel e.t.c.
Cultism in Nigeria, a clog in the system, is now a divergent organization from what it’s founding fathers intented – a peaceful and non-violent confraternity – and has witnessed a systematic and militant transformation. Cultists operate in secrecy to which a oath is sworn, involving themselves in dangerous activities varying from kidnapping, killing, assault of lecturers, intimidation of students and robbery. Activities of cult groups atimes cause disruption in academic calendar and activities, and also lead to lose of lives and properties of both innocent and rival cultists.
Thousands of students have lost their lives to cult killing since its disintegration. Although a menace to the society, there is a proliferation of cult members in a lot of higher institutions which seems to be unimpeded. Even infiltrating into the secondary schools and primary schools. Today, there are over 40 cult groups across the nation.
A three-day programme, in OAU, has been dedicated to honour the victims of the July 10 attak. Every July 8, OAU students troop out to sign a book of condolence which, traditionally, is placed at the front of the Students’ Union Building in reawakening the spirit of the deceased. After the condolence register, the anti-cultism parade to sensitize against involvement in cult like activities comes up on July 9. July 10, the remarkable day, a public symposium is organized where notable former students’ union leaders speak on the consequences and horrors of cult activities.
Young people join for various reasons, such as: quest for power and revenge, peer pressure, need for popularity and wealth, for protection e.t.c.
Over the past years, there have been various attempts to curb cultism, some of which includes the enactment of decree 47 of 1989, which pronounce a number of jail term for any cultist found guilty; Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, also, in 2000 issued a three month ultimatum to all vice-chancellors to eradicate cultism from their campus; some higher institutions also set up anti-cult groups consisting of the student body and some security agents to monitor and check cult activities on campus; in OAU, the S. M. S (scientific maximum shishi); in other universities, cult members have been asked to renounce cultism publicly, which some members did. But to no avail, there is still an ever increasing cult group membership in our society today.
To curb this menace, the Government and non-governmental agencies and the media should increase the campaign against cultism and its destructive tendencies. Engaging in public sensitisation, seminar, workshop, handbills to dissuade the public from encouraging and joining cult.
Parents and guardians also have a duty to be vigilant with thier wards. Enlightening them from a young age about the inimical acts of cultism in the society.
The school authority should also show readiness and determination to combat and eradicate cultism in the educational sector. An OAU SUG president, Mr Oyekan Ibukun Edward, was impeached for allegedly inviting cult members to the school. There must also be improved facilities and improved living conditions for students so as to minimize perceived pressure on social amenities.