THE RATE at which cultism has ravaged the
Nigerian university system is alarming. More
alarming and a serious cause for concern is
the fact that these cultists are gradually
becoming a majority in the population of
the country. It was not too long ago that I
graduated from a cult-ridden university in
the South. It must have been about 10 years
ago and at the time we had cultists that were
abhorred rather than feared, definitely not
respected.
Other students maintained a safe distance
from them because they were thought to
be devious and notorious – not popular,
cowardly not strong, and lacking selfconfidence.
To students at the time, these
boys were in dire need of recognition. Their
trademark at the time was humble beginnings,
not the village type of humble beginning, the
ghetto township type of beginning (yes we
have ghettos in Nigeria – Bundu waterfront
and Ajegunle are prime examples). Their
rew! ards – pretty “happening” girlfriends
forced into dating them, some warped sense
of social acceptance (the longer the rap sheet
the more abhorred the person became), and
money extorted from rich kids who were
not used to street fighting for survival. The
money from the rich kids kept them at par
with their peers, the girls gave them some
status in the university society and the
abhorrence they instilled through their acts
gave them a sense of security and the power
to conquer.
In the Nigerian cultural system, recognition for the young generation was awarded (at
least then) based on who your parents were,
which translated into whether or not they
had lots of money and/or political clout,
whether you were very intelligent and
accomplished in academics, whether you
were a natural charismatic, whether you
were very handsome or pretty and whether
you had the nicest and latest clothes. If you
are observant, all except one of these criteria
awards individual accomplishment. The
key benefit of obtaining the recognition of
your peers was social acceptance. This is
an important benefit to youth worldwide.
You got invited to the nicest “happening”
parties, you were “hailed” in the streets, you
had a ton of friends or vultures as I prefer to
refer to them, and you could commandeer
any girl you wanted – particularly the pretty
ones.
Gradually, these cultists started
intimidating the rich kids with clout into
joining their gangs. Why? Simple – once
a pig, always a pig, so you need to join
the horses in the stable so that other we
are misled to think you are a horse. The
association with the rich kids was a way
of shrouding their real personas. You also
needed their money and political power if
you were going to get arrested by the police.
The only way to get these kids with clout
“deep and committed” to the whole thing
was to threaten them into joining these
gangs. Now they would have to do stuff
together as “brothers”. Give me a puke
break. A brother who encourages you to soil
your hands with blood? A stain that cannot
be removed for life? Now I must stop here
to say that not all rich kids were honest and impeccable. Some of them were even more
deviant than the stereotype I have created
for cultists. For the rich kids who took c!
ultism as a part of life, money could not buy
them power. In search of power, they joined
the blood quest. The more split blood and
stab or gunshot wounds to their names, the
more power they commandeered.
In the Nigerian University of today, the
cults are well mixed socio-economically.
This is the scary thing. The cults have
become more violent, they are receiving
more funding than ever before to further
their bloodshed causes and sadly, they
are becoming forces to contend with in
elections. The economic situation does not
help the situation. Previously, these kids
would graduate from University and get
over all that trash of brotherhood because
they took on added responsibility in the
form of demanding jobs, family life etc.
Unfortunately, the economic climate has
changed the social scene. No one gets a
job these days unless you have a strong
affiliation. What affiliation is stronger
than that with someone with whom
you committed a murder that remains
unsolved? Even if you hate the act you
lewdly committed in your youth, you are
faced with it day in and day out. Your cult
members invite you to chant ! and dance
like a disoriented kid 10 years after you left
university and you just have to participate.
You pay dues to them like it is the labor
union. If you are a politician and you need
thugs, what better group of thugs to recruit
than your “blood brothers”? As an ex-cult
member turned employer, if you had to
offer a job to a group of candidates, you are compelled to offer the job to that cult boy (by
the way who identifies himself at the onset
of his job interview with some dumb sign)
with the 2.0 GPA because your hands are
tied by the sins of your youth.
It is apparent that being a member of a cult
is becoming the only way young men and
women can secure jobs if mom and dad lack
the clout and power to make a few phone
calls. It is fast seeping into every thread of
Nigerian culture and we have to stand back
and call a halt to this. We cannot speak of
building a justice system that punishes
felons when the justices are felons. We
cannot reform the university system when
the future provosts and vice chancellors are
cultists who threatened their professors for
good class scores. It is impossible to raise
children who respect the law when the
dominant parent is a perpetual outlaw.
I reflected upon this grave issue because
I have unfortunately discriminated against
a lot of young men upon realizing they
were ex-cult members. I have in the
past withdrawn from friendships and
acquaintances because I found out people
were in one cult or the other in school. I am
always hunted by the thought that their
sins continue to follow them. Each time I
come across one of them the first thing that
happens is I unconsciously begin to think
of the number of dead bodies that can be
attributed to that one person and where
these bodies of poor souls are buried. I think
of the macheted remains of people I used to
see on campus and I hear the cry and curses
of mothers whose children were taken by
force.


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