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The issue of cultism has in spite of many efforts at reducing it, soared up in the Nigeria’s Primary schools. Cultism has cast gloom over the educational sector. It is repeatedly said that the youths are the future leaders but it is a little wonder what the future holds for the youth of this country which has a good proportion of her youth as secret cult member. It therefore became imperative to carefully redress the issue of cultism in our Primary schools where reason should rule over emotion. Undoubtedly, the issue has assumed horrifying proportion as cultic violence thrives even more. The main purpose of this study was to find out the causes, effects and strategies to stop cultism in Primary schools in Nigeria. It was discovered from the study that cultism among the Pupils of Primary schools is real and urgent solutions is needed by government and institution at large to curb it. The parents must work closely with the institutions authority to arrive at a lasting solution.



1.1 Background of the Study

The emergence of cult activities in Primary schools in Africa can be traced back to the early 1950s. According to Opaluwah (2000), what is known as campus cultism in Primary schoolss started at The University College, Ibadan, Nigeria in 1952. It was formed by Nigeria’s only Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and six others who founded the Pyrates Confraternity. The other six are Olumuyiwa Awe, Ralph Opara, and Tunji Tubi, Aig Imokhuede, Pius Olegbe and Olu Agunloye. Their main objectives included the abolition of convention; the revival of the age of chivalry and to end tribalism, to elevate the social life of the university campus where orderliness and discipline could be planted in the mind of students/youths who were expected to be future leaders in Nigeria and elitism. Adejoro (1995) lamented that little did Soyinka and his friends realized that they were making history nor did they come to terms with the fact that students and indeed youths radicalism was being given a national boost and the unleashing of a national vanguard. The development was paradoxical to the extent that they little realized that they were laying the foundation for what was to be transformed eventually into gansterism.

In defining cultism, Azelama, Alude and Imhonda (2000) noted that “cult is an assemblage of people united by certain ideals, or symbols and whose rites and ceremonies of veneration are unique and shrouded in mysteries with a secrecy that cannot be broken.” Maxey (2004) traces the meaning of cult from the Latin word ‘cultus’ which means ‘to worship or give reverence to a deity.’ Thus, in its original usage, it was simply applied to a religious worshipful group of people regardless    of the object or person they venerated.

Furthermore, Rotimi (2005) cites the anthropological definition of ‘cult’ by Oxford Concise Dictionary of Sociology (1996) as ‘a set of practices and beliefs of a group in relation to a local god.’ The same dictionary gives a sociological definition of a cult as ‘a small group of religious activists whose beliefs are typically secret, esoteric and individualistic.’ Aguda (1997), Ogunbameru (1997) and the Free Encyclopedia (2006) define cult in a similar manner. Langone (1988) indicated that cult leaders have absolute control over the members of  the  movement and as such they use force to subdue them under their command. The author concluded that because cults tend to be leader centred, exploitative and harmful, they come into conflict with and threatened by the rational open and benevolent system of members’ families and society at large and that it is an exploitatively manipulative and abusive group in which members are induced to serve the group leader(s). From these accounts, it can be deduced that cults and cultism have certain elements in common. They are esoteric, shrouded in secrecy, usually made up of a small group of people with a charismatic leader, and may or may not be religious in nature.

Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria defines a secret cult as any association, group or body of persons (whether registered or not) that uses secret signs, oaths, rite or symbols and which is formed to promote a course, the purpose or part of which is to foster, the interest of its members and to aid one another under any regard without due regard to merit, fairness or justice; whose oaths of secrecy and, the names and activities are held in secret. The numerous and diverse activities of campus cults and confraternities   have gained undue and unwanted popularity in institutions of higher learning and the society has borne brunt of their existence. In the tertiary  institutions today,  these cults are involved in activities that could destabilize the smooth running of academic work in higher institutions. In the Primary schoolss, there are reported cases of murder of students in clashes between rival cults. In some cases, non cult members are murdered for reasons of provoking a cult member or group. Also female students are raped, disfigured for refusing to yield to love  advance from  cult members.

Despite the fact that many view cultism as abode of evil, where all manners of evil such as maiming, murder, examination malpractice, robbery, rape, arson, intimidation of fellow students and lecturers for good grades, forceful love (girl friends) and clashes of rival cults groups, some students find  it  fashionable  to blend or join cults groups for different reasons. For this reason, social problems associated with campus cult activities calls for further investigation. In the normal school situation, people feel comfortable as the academic environments in the campuses are usually very conducive without disturbances. As reported by Arogundade (1994), Amachere (1992) and Oriaku (1992), every student was supposed to know why he/she is in the higher institution and as such his/her academic pursuit (aim and objective) must be achieved for he/she has no negative motives.

Education is a crucial factor in the social, economic, political and technological development of a nation. The universities are abridged version of the larger society, as school is for academic excellence, which shapes an individual to the world of honour and dignity (Rotimi, 2005). Ones values and aspiration is conditioned and structured by his academic excellence. Before the 1970’s, the socio-cultural environment of Nigeria was conservative and non-aggressive.

According to Hornby (1995), tertiary means third in the order, rank or importance while tertiary education (at university or college level), therefore, Primary schools involves Universities, Colleges of Education, and Polytechnics that provide education for people at higher level. The  greatest asset to any society  is her citizens and their various abilities. These abilities can be acquired through quality education (Thompson, 2000). Unfortunately, despite all concerted effort by the Federal Government to provide its citizens with quality  education, the reverse  is the case. Nigerian educational institutions are beset by many social vices. Undoubtedly, one of such social vices confronting primary schools today is cultism. Cult activities have been very much on in our Primary schools, leading to the constant harassment of students, staff and destruction of properties. The nefarious and nocturnal activities of secret cults have also led  to  the  untimely death of cultists and innocent students and staff/lecturers of our institutions of higher learning.

It has been observed as stated by Thompson (2000) that students join cult   for certain factors such as protection, sense of identity, deception, family background, the Western media and role models. The researcher  observes  that there should be more to this than meets the  eyes. It is only further  investigation  that can establish these reasons. Higher institutions should be centres of academic excellence and moral uprightness, academic pursuit cannot be achieved in an atmosphere painted with blood shed and hooliganism. Furthermore, what are the social problems associated with secret cult activities in Primary schoolss? Arogundade (1994), Amachere (1992) and Oriaku (1992) observed that cultism in our Primary schoolss have brought about riots, maiming, raping, rival, robbery, looting and radical student bodies. The extent of their ugly trends needed to be further established and if not  checked,  may cast serious doubts on the future role  of our universities.

The crusade on cultism is to create awareness among parents, encourage students to join approved religious groups such as Scripture Union in schools for morals and spiritual awareness and security in God. Moral upbringing is very essential in ones life for there is a saying “Direct the child the way he/she should go and he will never depart from it” (Olabisi, 1993). Another way is referring members of secret societies to guidance and counselling units for counseling. Indeed, education is an all round efficiency that focus on the child not just as he is but as he can be. Therefore, disciplining of wards from childhood and organizing periodic counselling of students will make them realize their past mistakes and become ashamed of it. In addition to these, Ugbendu in Olabisi (1993) explained that most new intakes in higher institutions belong to the adolescent age bracket, a stage they are subjected to psychological fluctuations, while searching for their personalities.

The researcher embarks on this study as a result of observation by meaningful individuals and the media who point out that the issue of disturbances of secret cults in contemporary Nigerian secondary school is becoming a progressive social menace and a national question. One may ask if location of the University constitute a factor of secret cult activities happening in Primary schools. Rotimi (2005) stated that students are attracted to cultist groups for a variety of reasons. He noted that generally, the social atmosphere prevailing in Nigeria schools provides an inspiring environment for secret cults to thrive. These may include lack of virile student unionism, individual/private universities where the security system is not tight, erosion of the traditional academic culture; absence of intellectual debates and all other activities that are components of traditional campus culture. The researcher is investigating whether the higher institutions cited in urban areas are more involved in cultism more than those in rural areas that is to say what is the influence of location on secret cult activities.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Primary school as institutions is place where teaching, learning and researching into the problems of societies and the world starts. The existence of school cult activities in our Primary schools is a serious threat to the realisation of this noble objective. It has been observed that cult activities have led to the death of students and even lecturers on campus. Many other Primary schools in Lagos State, according to Newspaper reports, live in perpetual fear of cult activities in the school. Observers point out that if these ugly trends are not established and measures taken to check them, the future role of our Primary schools as agents of social change and national development will be seriously threatened.

Eradication of cultism in our Primary schools has been of concern to many researchers and educationist because there are increases in the number of pupils that join cultism in Primary schools.

1.3 Purpose of study

The main purpose of this study is to find out the causes, effects and strategies to stop cultism in Primary schools. The study is specifically set out to achieve the following objectives

  1. Reason students in Primary schools join cults.
  2. Investigate the effects of this social problem in the student’s academic performances.
  3. The extent to which Pupils are involved in cultism.
  4. Determine strategies for eradicating or minimizing it in Primary schools.

1.4 Research Questions

The study will attempt to find out answers to the following research questions.

  1. What are the causes of Pupils involvement in cultism
  2. What effect has cultism on the student’s academic performance?
  3. What forms of behaviours do the cultism manifest that affects the societies?
  4. Can cultism be stopped in our Primary schools
  5. What should be done to curb cultism in our Primary schools?

1.6 Significance of Study

The study is considered significance for the following reasons.

This study will be of value to the individual, Pupils, parents or guardian, educational sector and the society in general.

The result of the study will enable the educational administrators to design strategies they will adopt in dealing with matters that would help to eradicate cultism in universities.

It will also act as bare–line data for future researchers who may want to engage in similar study in future.

1.7 Scope of study

The researcher wishes to state the scope of the study as follows.

That the topic indicates, the study is restricted to the incidence, cause, effects and remedies of cultism among Pupils of Primary schools in shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State..

That the researcher is very much constrained by time to confine the study to Primary schools in shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State.. That it will not include other Primary schools in the state. Therefore, the generalization and conclusion to be made shall be valid to the extent they apply only to schools in shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.8 Limitation of the study

Attitude of the Respondents

The unwillingness of some of the management to divulge strategic information in the name of confidentiality was limitation to the study and some of  the  respondents showed negative attitude towards the study because there was no financial benefit attached while some refused to supply the necessary information probably due to their ignorance of the main purpose of this study.

Non availability of research materials

Being a new area of research in Nigeria, the researcher had the scarcity of research materials which invariably slowed down the pace work.  This  limitation  was minimized by subscribing for research materials through online journals.


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