Being Text of a Paper Presented by Mr Ben Oguntuase, NAS Capone at the Anti-Cult Week Symposium organised by the University of Lagos on Wednesday, November 3, 1999 This Anti-Cult week marks another important step towards dealing with one of the contemporary problems facing higher education in Nigeria. The problems of the violence associated with “cultism” in higher institutions reached a climax with the cruel massacre of five students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in the early hours of July 10.
I can say authoritatively that the trend towards cult violence started in the early 1980s. I believe the first cult-related violent death occurred in 1984. It is not very impressive of us as a nation that it took over fifteen years since the violence began and nine years since the Pyrates Confraternity raised a national alarm on the trend before the nation decided to rise up to the challenge and deal with the problems. However, under the circumstance, it is better late than never.
In this regard, I praise the organisers of this conference and sincerely hope that concrete steps will be taken hereafter to tackle this problem once and for all. We really have no choice on this. OAU must be the very last! I have been asked to provide a perspective on “cultism” in Higher Institutions andd how to deal with its associated problems. I hope that this topic is not intended by the organisers to mean that student cultism is bad, while non-student cultism is good. What is certainly obvious to me is that there is at present no national definition of the term “cultism”.
What I can read from the general public is that fraternity equals cultism. Another shade of interpretation could rightly say that fraternity plus violence equals cultism. I will attempt to define and distinguish between the two terms in this paper. I will also attempt to provide some insight into the organisations we call students’ cults and suggest concrete ways to deal with the violence associated with them. I will also be informing you of steps already taken to ensure a permanent end to this type of violence in all our higher institutions of learning.
Finally for this preamble, let me state clearly that whatever is said during this conference is done in good faith and with the overriding objective of terminating a menace, not to destroy or castigate anyone willfully. Anyone who may be offended by what I say here today is hereby requested to take it as being in the interest of the nation, the future of our youths and the protection of the dignity and integrity of our higher institutions of learning which no doubt have been defiled.