ABSTRACT: Cultism activities have turned most of the school into the citadel of violence as many lives and property have been lost and damaged. Realizing the havoc which cultism has wrecked on both members and non-members of the academic community, all hands must be on deck to combat the menace. It is on this notion that the research examined the role of public relations as a veritable tool for eradicating cultism in tertiary institutions in Nigeria using Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife as a case study. Students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) was surveyed. Questionnaire was employed to elicit responses from the respondents who were accidentally selected. However, Four Models of Grunig’s and Hunt’s PR Theories was used. The data collected were analysed and interpreted using frequency and percentage (Descriptive Statistics). Findings show that public relations play its part in curbing cultism by organizing anti-cultism workshops and lectures on campus, erection of anti-cultism billboards in order to inform students of the dangers of being a member. It was recommended that more punishment and sanctions should be implemented on students so as to reduce or curb the menace.
1.1 Background to the Study
Cultism is dated back to 1952, when Wole Soyinka winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature-and a group of friends at the University of Ibadan formed the Pyrates Confraternity with the motto “Against all Conventions”. The skull and crossbones were their insignia, cultivating a bohemian style that ridiculed the colonial attitudes mode of dress of the day.
This caught on among students and over the next two decades, the fraternity, a non-violent body, became established in all the tertiary institutions that emerged in post-independence Nigeria. The emergence of campus cults as they are known in Nigeria today began with a split in the Pyrates Confraternity during the early 1970s when a breakaway group formed the Buccaneers Confraternity followed by the emergence of the Black Axe or the Neo-Black Movement. The inter-group rivalry then set in, even though skirmishes between them were limited to fistfights.
The 1980s saw the multiplication of cults in the more than 300 tertiary institutions across Nigeria as new groups such as the Eiye, Vikings, Amazons and Jezebel emerged, bringing with them a more intensely violent rivalry. By 1984, when Soyinka initiated the abolition of the Pyrates Confraternity in all tertiary institutions, the phenomenon of violence had developed a life of its own.
By the mid-1980s, reports had it that some of the cults have been co-opted by elements in the intelligence and security services serving the military government such that they were used as foils to the left-wing student unions which, along with university teachers, were among the only remaining bastions of opposition to military rule. Cultism includes the activities of secret cults or societies that are very rampant in our institutions of learning today. The founding fathers of such societies do not have the mind of carrying out evils but as a pressure group that can monitor and defend the interest of the immorality of students’ populace without violence. But the activities of the various cults seen day in our institutions are far from the above reasons.
They have constituted themselves into gangs of “never-do-well” sets of people. Their mission today is to loot, kill, steal and destroy lives and properties at will. The violence associated with them is reported to be a result of battles for supremacy among them. They have constituted themselves into a big cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s education development. Indeed, the growth and maturation of examination malpractice tendencies in our tertiary institutions have been considered as one of the direct fallouts of cultism. Hardly a month passes these days, without reports of deaths of students or staff resulting from cult-related violence.
This has not only created an atmosphere of insecurity in our campuses, it is also diverting attention from the primary purpose of the universities which is education. At a time when funding of these institutions are inadequate, and the standard of education is said to be falling, cultism and examination malpractices tendencies are clearly a big problem for the concerned authorities.
Taiwo (2004) declared that “what we are all witnessing today in the education sector is a sad reflection of corruption in the society and the low priority placed on standardization and improvement of the intellectual custodians of our time by those in governance”. This is against the fact that most members of these cults are from rich homes and are never serious with their studies; thus prompting their venturing into examination malpractices. Whenever they fail their courses, they react violently through their cult members against the teachers in charge of their failed courses.
They operate at night and conduct the initiation of new members at dawn in these institutions coming out with dangerous weapons in the middle of the night when students who are ignorant of their activities fall victim. The recent arrest of some students who were believed to be cult members at Esa-Oke Federal Technical College serves as a typical case in point.
The fire of cult terrorism on the campuses which raged on for about one year, after the half-hearted spray of the cult antidote by the Federal Government in 1999, has steadily intensified and burst into flames once more. In the first two weeks of August 2004, 33 students of three universities were brutally murdered in cultic butcheries, suspected to have been perpetuated by cult members among students of tertiary institutions.
1.2 Problem Statement
The basic conditions for sustained academic culture have been eroded in OAU. The institution has fallen into disrepute and the products of the institution are no more what they used to be. Cult activities are seriously affecting all academic activities.
Sometimes students are attracted in hostiles classrooms, bus tops etc. daylight and gang raping become the order of the day; the killing of students by members of cult is no longer news, therefore the need to eradicate this problem in OAU through public relations communication becomes imperative.
Public relations as problems solving communication is expected to create the necessary enlightenment for the students of OAU and awaken then no what is needed of them in an academic community like OAU, Ile-Ife, especially now that various levels of government and the general over hand of all Nigerian tertiary institutions.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The aims of this study include the following:
- To know the reasons for joining cultism on campus.
- To examine the policies and programmes of OAU management in cubing cultism.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent do non-information on cultism and its damage to OAU students have prevented schools from curbing it?
- What are the reasons for joining cultism on campus?
1.5 Significance of Study.
The research will help to excavate the evolution and the remote causes of cultism on campuses and proffer and enduring solutions to it. It will awaken the management of institutions on how to use public relations to cub cultism.
Students will also benefit from this work, by knowing how to resist joining cultism. Public Relations department will know how to carry out their duties to cub cultism on campus.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research focuses on public relations as veritable tools for eradicating cultism in Nigeria tertiary institution. However, due to time, finance and other logistics the work has been narrowed down to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, since it is difficult to study all Nigeria Higher Institutions, therefore, demography of OAU will be considered before distributing the research instrument.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Publics –These are various people or body that Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife is dealing with such as students, staff, commercial bus drivers, Okada riders and others.
Public Relations –This is a unit or department of OAU charged with the solve responsibility of maintaining good image and promoting the institution through a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.
Eradicating – These are ways by which the public relations department of OAU are fighting cultism on campus.
Cultism – These are groups of secret people creating some socio vices on campus such as the Eiye, Vikings, Amazons and Jezebel, Alora e. t. c
Tertiary Institution: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife is one of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria where the secret cult started and dominate.
“PR AS A VERITABLE TOOL FOR ERADICATING CULTISM IN NIGERIAN’S TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS“