Some concerned Nigerians have attributed the increase in cultism in the country to the negligence of parents and some lapses in the education system.
In a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bauchi, Yola, Damaturu, Maiduguri and Gombe, the stakeholders observed that parents had neglected their primary responsibilities of ensuring proper upbringing of their children.
Dr Saidu Abubakar, a Sociology lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, described cultism as a social vice that had become a menace among Nigerian youths due to poor upbringing.
He said that most of those involved in the practice wanted to achieve some worldly desires through easy means.
“Nigerian youths are involved in cultism because of the promises that are enshrined in it (cultism); most of them are students of higher institutions and this has even transcended to secondary schools.”
He said the problem had persisted in spite of efforts by government and the society to discourage it because of the decay in the society and the seeming failure by parents to ensure proper upbringing of their children.
A Chief Magistrate in Bauchi, Amina Garuba, said the Nigerian law only provided for associations and groups, adding that cultism had a different outlook from the formation of associations and groups.
Some parents who spoke to NAN in Bauchi on the issue noted that the problem of cultism in institutions of higher learning was worrisome.
Mrs Chioma Emmanuel and Mrs Mairo Abubakar said mothers now live in fear and hardly felt comfortable allowing their female wards interact freely with their colleagues.
Another parent, Mrs Bulak Afsa, Chairperson of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in Bauchi, urged parents to ensure the proper upbringing of their children.
Similarly, a student, Matthew Gabriel, shared the view that poor upbringing at the family level made it difficult for government to curb the menace.
Adamawa Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ahmad Sajoh, who is a member of the State Security Council, told NAN in Yola that the problem facing the state was that of youths engaged in drug abuse and related offences.
He said the youths, known as “Yan Shila”, were found more in the state capital where they engaged in criminal activities such as gang fight, robbery and rape.
Sajoh said government had been assisting security agencies to check their activities, and that such support had yielded results.
Also speaking, Mrs Halima Bala, the Public Relations Officer of Moddibo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH), Yola, said cultism was no longer an issue in the institution.
“We used to have it in the institution about 10 years ago but now it is history; the then Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ribadu, took concrete measures that addressed the problem,” Bala said.
Dr David Gbenyi, Deputy Rector (Academic), Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, also said that there were no cult activities in the institution.
Gbenyi said that the polytechnic achieved the feat due to the ‘zero tolerance for cultism’ stance of the management.
Alhaji Mustapha Yakubu, an Islamic Scholar in Yola, said that the Islamic religion forbade the formation of any group that was not authorized by the Muslim council.
Yakubu, who is also a teacher of Islamic Religious Knowledge, said that the religion forbade activities carried out under cover because most of such activities had ‘criminal colouration’.
Pastor Solomon Abah of the Redeemed Christian Mission in Yola described the activities of cults as criminal and distasteful to any society.
He said that any group’s activity that did not have a clear definition, was criminal, adding that some of them conducted blood initiation of new members.
Abah, however, said that the activities of such groups were not common in Adamawa.
Also speaking, Mr Aminu Mamman, a teacher at Wuro-Hausa Primary School, Yola, said teachers were duty-bound to monitor the activities of wards so as to identify deviation from norms and values of the society.
Mr David Bede, a Sociologist, said that cult activities were clearly an opposition against the norms and values of any society.
Bede said that every society had a culture and that any conduct short of the acceptable norm was a deviation and as such, distasteful.
In Borno, stakeholders in the education sector called for effective measures to end cultism and enhance academic excellence in the country.
A cross-section who spoke to NAN in Maiduguri, said urgent measures were necessary to check the menace.
Mr Bulama Abiso, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), said cultism thrived due to poor management of schools.
Abiso expressed regret that many educational institutions lacked internal mechanism to monitor activities of students.
He also blamed parents for their inability to ensure proper moral upbringing of their wards.
“Charity begins at home; the first to be blamed are parents who do not monitor their children and the type of company of friends they keep,” Abiso said.
Mr Inuwa Kubo, the Commissioner for Education, said the state had never recorded any case of cultism due to the measures put in place, adding that the practice was alien to the state.
Also, Mr Mai Bukar, the Vice Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said cultism hindered development of education in the country.
Bukar decried the falling standard of ethical values in institutions, stressing that the trend signified danger to the society.
“To reach our dream land, we must uphold our ethical values, good conduct, moral behaviour and compliance to acceptable norms and values,” he said.
Similarly, Ibrahim Kaigama, a lecturer at Kashim Ibrahim College of Education, advised institutions to establish a special desk charged with the task of counselling students on unwholesome acts.
“We must be free at all times to listen to our students. We must treat them as friends to enable us to understand their problems and protect them,” he said.
Aliyu Umar, a Psychologist in Damaturu, said the Boko Haram insurgency “had consumed other acts of violent crimes in Yobe, with no known organised cult group heard of in schools or any part of the state.
“Although there are isolated cases of missing children, these are suspected to have been perpetrated by visitors and not cult organisations,” he said.
Bakura Usman, a parent, identified poor parental guidance as largely responsible for young men joining cult organisations in the country.
“Parents, especially in the city, do not have the time for their wards and so do not monitor the company and activities of their children.
“The craze for wealth is another factor; young men want to be rich at all costs, while those in schools join the cult to intimidate lecturers to pass their exams, among other factors,” he said.
Hajiya Hafsatu Garba, a civil servant in Damaturu, suggested intensive community policing and neighbourhood watch, to check activities of cultists.
Dr Mu’azu Shehu, a lecturer, Sociology Department, Gombe State University, suggested a review of the laws to handle cultism.
“Our legal system did not foresee the challenges facing us as a country today; so, if we want to curtail or reduce the menace of cultism and other crimes in the society, we have to review our laws to handle such cases.”
He underscored the need for a collective approach to deal with cult activities in the country.
He suggested the setting up of a special unit within security outfits to handle cultism issues, to enable speedy arrests and prosecution of culprits. (NAN)