CULTISM is one of Nigeria’s
most nagging social problems.
In work places, towns and
cities or communities and even
in somewhat sacred of places,
there are large congregations
of cultists. It has become a
way of life for most teenagers
who subscribe to various
antagonistic cult groups.
Worse still, is the often resort
of cult members to brute and
barbaric means of attacking
and eliminating opponents or
perceived enemies that make
society groan under pains.
The general affliction of
society with the menace
of cultism has permeated
institutions of learning at
all levels. Although, society
generally suffers from cultism,
but institutions, especially
university campuses are most
burdened by this scourge. It
is a pandemic in virtually all
Nigerian universities, which
is more organized and freely
practiced in most instances
unchallenged.
However, with no intention
of spiting any region of the
country, southern-based
institutions of higher learning
are most plagued by this
destructive virus of cultism.
Dozens of youngsters or
teenagers freely indulge in
these reprehensible acts and
derive inexplicable joy in
terrorizing both schoolmates
and lecturers. To uproot or
reduce the menace of cultism
By Nkechi Odoma
By Okanga Agila
to the barest minimum in any
university campus in the South
is akin to the Biblical camel
passing through the eye of a
needle. But it is not impossible
to achieve this feat.
Understandably, university
authorities have had rough
and tough times in attempts to
tame the monster. And there are
instances, in Southern varsities
where Vice Chancellors dread
confronting the monster of
cultism; hence the repercussions
could include reprisal attacks on
their person.
Calabar, the “Paradise City,”
and capital of Cross River
state negate this appellation
by its famed status of cultism.
Sometimes, one is startled by the
number of deaths occasioned by
clashes between rival cult gangs
in the ever bubbling city.
For instance, in June 2016,
the peace of Calabar city was
violently punctured as rival
cult groups engaged themselves
in bloody clashes for days,
over ownership of motorcycle
association license, resulting
in deaths and injuries. Such
incidents recur frequently and
sometimes, residents are forced
to close down businesses or
pleasure seekers retire home
prematurely to avoid being
trapped in fury of the cross fire
of the warring cultists.
Hence, University of Calabar
(UNICAL) is located in the heart
of Calabar city, the institution
has struggled to contain the
infiltration of cultism into the
campus over the years. And
operating in an environment
that appears to have a large dose
of such debauches, make the
job of completely eliminating
the menace of cultism and
sustaining a cult-free campus
an uphill task for the university
management. But the sternness
in dealing with suspected cultrelated
issues have most times
brought respite to the university
environment.
UNICAL’s Vice Chancellor
(VC), Professor Zana Akpagu has
been able to sustain a cult-free
campus, since he assumed duties
in December 2015. Apart from
treating suspected cultism cases
with expediency, Akpagu does
not spare any student indicted
of involvement or association
with cultism, as the appropriate
punishments as prescribed by
university laws are applied to
serve as deterrence to others.
He has authorized the
expulsion of scores of cultists
since he mounted the saddle
as VC, a sign of his intolerance
of such social deviants and
outlaws. In addition, Akpagu
has not only beefed up security
on campus, but launched
security surveillance on students
to monitor their clandestine
activities, through which
suspected cultists are fished out
and summarily disciplined.
But psychologists say, old
habits die hard. So, days back,
the tranquil atmosphere in
UNICAL was shattered when
suspected fleeing cultists
mowed down a student at the
varsity’s area commonly called
“Love Garden.”
The unfortunate incident of
the assassination of a UNICAL
lecturer in the Department of
Accounting, Dr. Emmanuel
Igbeng sparked the fresh cult
clashes which led to scores
of deaths. But the university
promptly responded to the
situation and according to the
university’s Public Relations
Officer (PRO), Mr. Eyo Effiong,
the school’s security team
apprehended two of the fleeing
cultists. This was confirmed by
the State Commissioner of Police,
Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, an indication
that the arrested suspects will
lead investigations into the arrest
of the other escapee cultists or
gang members.
Months back and in concert
with a Non-governmental
Organization, Campus Cult
Eradication Foundation (CCEF
), the VC led the template for
the renunciation of cultism by 40
students, some of whom were
UNICAL students. The students
who denounced cultism were
initiates into cult groups like
Pyrates confraternity, Vikings,
Black Axe, Klans among others.
Therefore, Akpagu’s stick and
carrot approach is spurred in
his belief in the development of
humanity, more than destruction.
Students who are plotting a
return of the reign of terror in
UNICAL campus should have a
rethink and would do themselves
a lot of good by embracing the
“carrot option” dangled before
them by the VC. It is impossible
to defeat Professor Akpagu and
his team of management to
re-introduce extreme and
frightening terrorism on
campus in the guise of cultism.
Akpagu is genuinely described
by admirers as a “home
boy” and is abreast with the
intricacies’ of the university
and the community of its
host, which incidentally is
not just his home of birth, but
also his home of development
and workplace all through his
adult life.
It is pertinent to state that no
obstinate student, who clings
unto cultism, shall escape his
eagle eyes or overpower the
varsity’s security vigilance
and added to it, anyone found
culpable would not be spared
the rod. No stakeholder in the
varsity should be in doubt that
with Professor Akpagu on the
throne as UNICAL’s VC, they
are dealing with an old horse
in the system.
And suffice it to say, it
would be difficult, if not
impossible for any criminal to
dismantle his campus security
apparatus put together to
protect the institution. He
came prepared and with a
clear vision to deliver on his
mandate, as prescribed by the
“change” creed of President
Muhammedu Buhari’s
administration and no force
is potent enough to shatter or
frustrate this vision.
Odoma is a public affairs
commentator and contributed
this piece from Calabar


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