Cultism and its attendant problems have assumed a threatening dimension in recent times in the Nigerian society. More disturbing is the fact that cultism cuts across all facets of the society, including the educational institutions in the country. The immediate consequence is that the Nigerian universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and secondary schools have become centres of violence, instead of centres of learning that they were hitherto known for. Indeed, some scholars like Gimba Abubakar (2002) commenting on the deteriorating standards of tertiary education referred to cult activities in the universities as offering “Bachelor of Science” in violence and “Master of Administration” in cultism. This situation prompted Eneji (1996) to have remarked that “almost every passing day, there are new stories of devilish acts perpetuated by secret cults on campuses”. He added further that from the universities to polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions of learning come stories of violence, torture and unwarranted intimidation executed by members of secret cults. It is common place to see that most Nigerian newspapers and magazines have become “bulletin boards” for reporting the daily exploits of members of secret cults. In fact, tertiary institutions are now breeding ground for cultists operations. Within the framework of cultism, justice is replaced with “Jungle Justice”, peace by tales of horror, love by brutality. Intimidation, tortures and extortions abound and morality seems to have been driven into outright decadence.
In the same way, academic excellence has been relegated to the background. Unfortunately, all efforts to tackle the social menace, cultism in Nigerian tertiary institutions, especially in Delta State have defied all solutions. The efforts of the Government and the managements of this citadel of learning are like putting off the fire without identifying the sources of the fire. Cult clashes in Delta State tertiary institutions have often led to the destruction of lives and property, brutal rapes, maiming and kidnapping. They have been a major threat to the effective pursuit of academics in the institutions of higher learning in Delta State and beyond. The ravaging problem posed by cultism brings to the fore the numerous social problems that characterize modern and traditional societies like ours and this culminate to efforts by sociologists and other related professionals coming up to proffer solutions to the unpleasant socio-cultural conditions which tend to have unpleasant consequences for humanity. Taking a clue from the above analysis, cultism could be well described as a social menace due to its associated morally questionable conducts – murder, prostitution, rape and sexual harassment, armed robbery, etc.
Cultism as manifested in secret cults is a set of practices, beliefs or ideas whose essence is known only to members and exclusively admired and dependent upon by many, even to the extent that members would want to lay down their lives. It is this doggedness of members that reinforces the importance of and awe of the group, especially among non-members. Honestly speaking, cults membership involves close group membership such as the Ogboni secret cult among the Yoruba of the South Western Nigeria, now the Refined Ogboni Fraternity, Ekpe secret cult among the Efiks of the Southern part of Nigeria, Asigidi found in the Benin Area of Edo State, etc. with their different ways of carrying out their activities in their area of jurisdiction. The most disheartening thing is that what is happening in the larger society has been transferred into the tertiary institutions in Nigeria and the Delta State axis in particular. This social dynamism has caused a social disorganization, intellectual stagnation, and a crimogenic society where anxiety and fear of the unknown stand in the way of capacity building and national development.
The quest to curb the attended problem of cultism has led to the identification of several causal factors such as government ineptitude, poor family background, staunched self development and social disorganization in all facets of life. In the past different efforts have been made by government, non-governmental organizations and managements of tertiary institutions to bring order to cultists activities on campuses. However, all these strategies adopted by these responsible bodies have proved moderate success as cultists’ activities in Delta State tertiary institutions have become more sophisticated and unpredictable with the glaring challenge of rehabilitating those ex-cultists who renounced their membership in their different cults. The issue that captures the minds of sociologists and other professionals is whether we should fold our hands and pretend not to see these promising youths who have renounced cult membership rot away, or should we ignore those ex-cultists to their fate?
Statement of the Problem
Ex-cultists in tertiary institutions suffer some psychological setbacks in relation to their fellow students on campuses. Initially, at the time of initiation and active participation in cult’s activities, they were on top of the world. They were terrorists to their schoolmates and victims but with the new change of status as ex-cultists, their power and influence begins to dwindle. They sometimes feel alienated from their old friends and sometimes feared to be victimized by opposition camps and even their former cult members. Some of the envisaged problems faced by ex-cultists are given below: They are unable to think critically and logically. They are sometimes prey and victims of cults members and opposition camps. They suffer from fear due to impaired thinking and consequently anxiety of the unknown. Inability to do well in academics and other areas of life due to threats from former cult members. Loss of respect and identity among their school mates. Inability of school management to cater for their traumatic and psychological problems. They suffer from emotional stress. They are unable to be well re-integrated into the academic community.
Objectives of Study
This study is aimed at investigating the impact of cultic activity on higher institutions of learning and how rehabilitation efforts have impacted on ex-cultists. However, these objectives are outlined below:
i. To explain the psychological and social dynamics common to cultist environment.
ii. To help individuals who are ex-cultists to return to emotional and psychological stability.
iii. To help the student or ex-cultist to return to social stability through a reintegration programme.
iv. To examine the causes of cultism in tertiary institutions.
v. To trace the historical antecedent, of cultism in tertiary institutions.
vi. To recommend measures to curb the menace of cultism in tertiary institutions.
In order to have a proper grasp of the study, the following questions need to be asked:
i. Does ex-cultists reason or think logically?
ii. Are ex-cultists victims of violence from former cult members and opposition cults?
iii. Are ex-cultists predisposed to fear of the unknown?
iv. Is the poor academic performance of ex-cultists due to fear from former cult members?
v. Do ex-cultists loose respect from their school mates?
vi. Does school management cater adequately for the traumatic and psychological needs of ex-cultists?
vii. Do ex-cultists suffer from emotional stress?
viii. Does the rehabilitation efforts of management yields proper integration into the academic community?
The following assumptions are developed to enable the researcher to critically examine the subject matter:
Low academic performance is directly related to ex-cultist membership of secret cult.
Aggressive behaviour is directly related to membership of secret cults.
Individuals from defective family background are more prone to membership of secret cult.
There is relationship between the rehabilitation efforts of school management and ex-cultists in tertiary institutions.
Scope and Limitation of Study
This study is carried out within the confines of tertiary institutions in Delta State. The choice for this boundary is due to the fact that the situations in Delta State University Campuses located at Abraka and Oleh, Delta State Polytechnic at Ozoro, Oghara and Ogwachuku , Delta State College of Education at Agbor, and Warri and other citadel of higher learning. However, the situation is not different from other universities or colleges nationwide but due to time and financial constraints, the focus shall be at the three campuses of Delta state University situated at Abraka.
Significance of the Study
The research work is directed at contributing to knowledge in all citadel of learning. The following are the relevance:
The study will show the relationship that exist between cults activities and Nigerian students. It will also indicate whether the activities of cultists on the students have been more relevant or otherwise. It shall also make recommendations on areas where necessary to improve the lots of the Nigerian students. The recommendations of this study shall be useful to counselors in all respect to students’ life. It shall be of immense benefit to government ministries, agencies and other non-governmental organizations involved on the intervention and prevention of cultism in Nigerian universities and other colleges of learning. It shall also be used for the rehabilitation of ex-cultists who have renounced their membership of secret cults. This study shall also be an eye-opener to fresh undergraduates in higher institutions. The study shall also serve as a guide to psychologists who are involved in the rehabilitation of ex-cultists.
This encompasses the sources of data and data analysis.
Sources of Data
The data for this study shall be collected from primary and secondary sources. In the case of the former, the researcher shall randomly distribute 200 Questionnaire to the three campuses of Delta State University, Abraka. In each questionnaire, 20 questions shall be asked and the questionnaire shall be collected the same day. On the other hand, secondary sources of data shall be based on unpublished and published documents, journals and related literature which shall be sought from the library, and internet.
The data collected shall be presented orderly for proper analysis. The completed and answered questionnaire shall be analyzed using the quantitative research method. In addition, this document and relevant literatures shall be well analyzed in concomitant with the data so collected.