Besides decrepit facilities
and general appalling fall in the standard of education, the most essential problem facing tertiary institutions in Nigeria today is the problem of cultism. There is hardly any existing single institution of higher learning in the country that has not experienced the menace of cultism at one time or the other.
The Free English Dictionary defines cultism as a religious belief generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an conventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian and charismatic leader.
The cult itself, according to Longman Contemporary Dictionary, is a group of people with a religious, philosophical or cultural identity sometimes viewed as a sect, often existing on the margin of society and exploitative towards its members.
Studies have shown that cult is an enclosed organised group devoted to a certain cause or belief, whose activities are exclusively kept away from the knowledge of others. Its policies, constitution, membership and modus operandi are carried out in secret, mostly at odd hours, and often clash with the values of everyday life. Members of this group always commit themselves to oath taking and allegiance which serves as their strong bond.
In a nutshell, cultism can be defined as a ritual practice by a group of people bonded by oath or allegiance, whose membership, admission, initiation, policy, motive and mode of operation are kept secret, with their activities having negative effects on both members and non-members alike.
The origin of campus cultism dates back to 1952 when Wole Soyinka (now a Nobel Laureatte and Professor of Literature) and a group of six other students formed the Pyrates Confraternity at the premier University of Ibadan. The group was established with the noble aim of protecting the interest of indigent students against the oppression of the elite students, as well as fighting against the injustice being melted on students by lecturers and school authorities.
It was observed then that the University was populated by children of the elite who oppressed their indigent counterparts with their social status and ostentatious lifestyle that were then associated with the colonial masters.
For almost 20 years, studies show that the Pyrates Confraternity was the only cult group on Nigerian Campus. However, due to doctrinal differences and the inability of many intending members to meet the required standard of the Pyrates, other groups such as Buccaneers, Vickings, Mafia, Eiye Confraternity, Black Axe sprang up. Since then, the number of cult groups in campuses has swollen up.
Today, there are dozens of cult groups, even female ones, in various tertiary institutions across the country, bearing different names such as Black Cats, Trodjan Horse, Black Panthers, Black Scorpions, The Executioners, Black Beret, the Twelve Disciples, White Angels, Amazons, Daughters of Jezebel, Black Brassieres, among others.
Regrettably, what started as an innocuous students pressure group in 1952 has metarmorphosed into a dangerous sect that now menaces all campuses of tertiary institutions in the country. The core reason for establishing the first campus cult group in Nigeria, which is the Pyrates Confraternity otherwise known as Association of Seadogs has been jettisoned. Mindless bloodletting, rape of female students, intimidation of lecturers for good grades, examination malpractices etc are now associated with campus cultism.
The activities of cult groups on campuses are, however, without fatal consequences. For instance, few months ago, the lives of four students of the Abia State University, (ABSU), Uturu, were cut short during a clash between two rival cult groups who were entangled in supremacy battle. One of them, a 24 year old final year student, was the only male child of a prominent Nigerian.
A similar cult clash resulted in the death of a final year student of Law at the Imo State University, sometimes ago. The student (name withheld) who was alleged to be a member of a cult group was felled on the day of his final examination by a rival cult group which was said to have been on his trail.
Meanwhile, many students have been expelled from school due to their involvement in cultism.
In spite of this sanction and various evils associated with cultism in tertiary institutions, the menace has continued to fester like wounds.
Various researches have shown that students find cultism fashionable for various reasons. These include the followings:
Search for Needs and Aspirations: The Tide’s investigation shows that many students engage in cultism in order to ensure academic success for themselves and their friends. This is common among less academically endowed students who use their membership of cult group to intimidate lecturers to pass them.
Search For Security and Protection: It was also found out that many students, especially the female ones enlist in cult groups with a mission to protecting themselves from the aggressiveness of make students and lecturers.
A female student of the Abia State University, Uturu, Amarachi Ojike Kalu, who lost her mobile phone and money to members of a cult group during an attack, recently, stated that the oppression of female students by their male counterparts, as well as the harassment of female students by male lecturers, have forced many female students to join cult groups.
Although she condemns cultism in whatever disguise, Kalu said the membership of cult group emboldens female students to resist any intimidation or harassment by either male students or lecturers.
Search For Responsibility: An educationist, Ivor Ogidefa, in his article “Cultism in Educational Institutions in Nigeria: Causes, Possible Solutions and Counseling Implications”, stated that some students join cult group in order to perform certain services for their members.
According to him, some students in a bid to resist or fight perceived injustice against their friends, relatives or loved ones, decide to join cult groups.
This was corroborated by a student of ABSU (name withheld) who told our correspondent that he had to join a campus cult group to protect his cousin and girlfriend who were being harassed by some guys in the school.
Search For Social Identity: The Tide’s investigation shows that this is the most common and potent reason why campus cultism thrives in Nigeria. It was learnt that many students in their desire to gain respect and recognition of other students enlist in cult groups.
According to Ogidefa, some students join cult group because they want to achieve popularity, or influence decisions on campus especially during the students union elections.
Meanwhile, there are other reasons responsible for campus cultism. These include poor parental or home background, especially when parents or guardians are themselves member of secret cults, while other factors are borne out of excessive parental discipline or lack of it at all, as is the case with children of the elite who have no time to train their children properly.
Again, many youth are into cultism in order to gain financial assistance from prominent men, especially politicians. It is the trend in the society nowadays for politicians to recruit student cultists from various campuses to bring down their opponents or cause electoral violence during elections, in return for paltry sums.
Most ridiculous of these factors is the inferiority complex factor. This is common among the less privileged students who, for fear of being humiliated by others, join cult groups.
A story was told of a male student who joined a cult group just because he wanted to have a love affair with a female counterpart, but was not bold enough to initiate the relationship. He, therefore, resorted to intimidation of the lady, having joined a cult group.
How then can the menace of cultism be tackled or eliminated in institutions of higher learning?
While many people said that there should be a total clampdown on students cultist on various campuses in the country, some recommend amnesty for student cultists, like the one the Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike granted to cultists in Rivers State. Many others, however, appealed to parents, guardians, religious bodies and schools to redirect the minds of the youths towards things and virtues that will benefit them and the society.
According to a security expert, Mr. Clem Nwagbara, the best way to eliminate cultism in various schools is to clamp down on cultism, using the law enforcement agencies like the Police and the Department of Security Service (DSS).
“With the cooperation of the school authorities and non-cultists among students, it is easy to fish out the bad eggs among the students. All it takes is for the school authorities and innocent students to cooperate with security agents”, he said.
Meanwhile, a student of Michael Okpara University, Umudike, Abia State, Bright Treasure Nwankwo said the establishment of anti-cultists group which would be made up of some members of the school authorities, repentant cultists who have renounced cultism and security agents is necessary on various campuses.
According to him, the involvement of ex-cultists in the anti-cultists group would make it easy for the security agencies to track down student cultists in various schools.
However, a motivational speaker, Alex Ogboru advised the authorities of various institutions to first of all declare amnesty for students who may be willing to renounce cultism before declaring war on them.
He said, “Some students may be willing to renounce cultism having seeing the negative effect of it. But they may be afraid of being attacked by their groups or expelled by the school authorities”.
However, in the opinion of Mrs Deborah Njoku, a secondary school teacher, the best way to eliminate cultism among youth is for parents and other stakeholders in the training of youth to redirect the minds of young people towards meaningful endeavours.
She blamed many parents and guardians for not living up to the expectation in the area of training and proper upbringing of their children and wards. She also faulted some schools and religious bodies for promoting western culture at the expense of moral values, appealing to parents, teachers and churches to be molders of character and builders of tomorrow.
Nwankwo is a student of Abia State University, Uturu
FG Recorded N150.36bn Fiscal Deficit In April – CBN
The Federal Government recorded a fiscal deficit of N150.36bn in April, after recording an aggregate expenditure of N559.67bn and retained revenue of N409.31bn.
Figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s April report on ‘Fiscal operations of the Federal Government’ revealed at the weekend.
The report shows that the federal revenue rose by 28.2 per cent in April 2021 to N1.12tn in relation to N862.79bn in March 2021, due to improvement in non-oil earnings.
It also shows that the provisional aggregate expenditure of the FGN put at N559.67bn was 50.6 per cent below the budget benchmark and 59.4 per cent short of the level in March 2021.
Also, the fiscal operations of the Federal Government in April 2021, according to the report, contracted by 67.8 per cent, relative to the budget estimate.
Part of the report read “Federation revenue rose by 28.2 per cent in April 2021 to N1.12tn, relative to N862.79bn in March 2021, owing to improved non-oil earnings.
“However, the retained revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria at N409.31bn, was 38.5 per cent below target.
“Similarly, the provisional aggregate expenditure of the FGN, at N559.67bn, was 50.6 per cent below the budget benchmark and 59.4 per cent short of the level in March 2021.
“Consequently, the fiscal operations of the FGN in April 2021 contracted by 67.8 per cent, relative to the budget estimate.”
It added that the FGN debt outstanding, as of the end-March 2021, stood at N28,984.3bn and represented a 15.8 per cent increase, relative to its level in March 2021.
TSA Promotes Transparency, Accountability In Revenue Collection In Kebbi – Chairman
Alhaji Iliyasu Arzuka-Jega, Chairman, Kebbi State Board of Internal Revenue, has said that the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA) has encouraged accuracy, efficiency and accountability in revenue collection in the state.
Arzuka-Jega stated this at a news conference yesterday in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital.
The Tide source reports that TSA is a public accounting system whereby government receipt, revenue and income are collected into one single account.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is responsible for the maintenance and management on such account.
It was proposed by the Federal Government in 2012 and fully implemented by the Buhari led-administration.
Arzuka-Jega said that the introduction of digital revenue collection techniques assisted the board towards simplifying its work more convenient and easy.
He said that, “We are now in the era of technology, all our collections have been upgraded from manual to digital.
“In this circumstances, we found it necessary not to be left behind towards ensuring that leakages are blocked and revenues collected enter into government’s coffers.
“All our collections have now been centralised because we operate Single Treasury Account (TSA), where all revenue realised go in there, this has put an end to divertion of fund.”
The Chairman said that the board had recorded significant impact of TSA since inception, as against previous years when revenue collections whether external or internal were done manually.
He said that the manual method of revenue collction was fraught with irregularities which resulted to situation where fund could not be accounted for.
“Now, we do receive payments from Lagos and other states, and we only see evidence of payments made to our platform under the TSA,” he said.
NNPC Explains 2020 Audited Report
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has explained the controversial areas of its 2020 audited financial report that placed the corporation on a profit lane.
It would be recalled that on August 26, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a profit after tax of N287billion by the corporation in 2020, the first of its kind in the oil giant’s 44-year history.
This feat, which was commended by Buhari, had also won the Group Managing Director of the corporation,MalamMeleKyari-led management accolades from stakeholders and Nigerians from all walks of life.
Kyari, however, explained how the corporation’s performance turned out positive at a time the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic affected businesses worldwide.
Also, the Group Executive Director, Finance & Accounts, Mr Umar Ajiya, also shed more light on the development, and equally addressed some of the issues raised by those who doubt the veracity of the profit declared by the corporation.
He said the trend of real openness has begun not only in the NNPC but also in the Nigerian petroleum industry, especially with the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
Ajiya said that during the period under review, the NNPC took some unprecedented steps among which was cost optimisation aimed at refocusing its businesses.
Also, in the week, the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company Limited (NGMC), a subsidiary of NNPC, restated its commitment to the development of its host communities.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Justin Ezeala, made the commitment at the opening ceremony of the Women Skills Acquisition Programme for its host communities in its northern operations.
He said NGMC was committed to developing a robust sustainable relationship with all its host communities, and disclosed that the beneficiaries were carefully nominated by executives of their respective communities and would undergo intensive three-week training in catering, tailoring/fashion design, hairdressing and make-up (including pedicure, manicure andgele tying).
He tasked the host communities on the sustenance of the existing peaceful relationship while assuring them of the company’s continued support.
Addressing the beneficiaries, the Lead Consultant, Bernard Emekpe, said the programme was a testament to NNPC’s vision of engaging the communities in which it operates.
He advised the beneficiaries to see this as a lifetime opportunity and take control of their destiny.
A representative of the host communities, Otokina Goodluck, and some of the beneficiaries said the program was a life-changing opportunity, and promised to make judicious use of it.
The beneficiaries were drawn from Ajaokuta, Geregu, and Aku communities in Kogi State.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Norway has commended the Federal Government on the successful signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Knut EilivLein, gave the commendation during a business visit to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva in Abuja.
He said they were delighted at the signing of the bill which he said would accelerate development and strengthen the oil and gas industry.
On his part, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said the difference between past efforts and the eventual PIB that was passed by the National Assembly was that all industry stakeholders, including government agencies were carried along.
Still, on the week under review, the GMD was conferred the BusinessDay Energy Executive of the Year Award by BusinessDay Newspaper Management in recognition of his giant strides in repositioning the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
Receiving the award in Abuja, Kyari said the trust by Buhari was the propelling force behind the many achievements recorded in the nation’s oil and gas sector within the last two years.
He described his position and the confidence that he enjoys from the President as a privilege, stressing that he and members of his management team were working hard to justify the trust in the interest of the nation and to the benefit of Nigerians.
He attributed the transformation and recent profit by the corporation to quality leadership and prudent management of resources, noting that it was part of his efforts towards keeping the trust.
The GMD stated that the corporation’s courage to publish its 2018 Audited Financial Statement with a huge loss was in line with his management resolve to be transparent and accountable to the public, emphasizing that the success story of ¦ 287billion profit in the 2020 financials was a result of the determination to do things differently.
The NNPC helmsman, while appreciating the management of BusinessDay Media Limited for the award, declared, “As the biggest company with the largest assets in Africa, NNPC has no reason not to make a profit.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of BusinessDay Media Limited, Dr Ogho Okiti, said globally acceptable parameters were adopted in selecting the awardees.
“In addition, our Business Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU) in conjunction with our Oil and Gas Editorial Team have carefully analysed the data available on each company as well as their work programme recorded with the DPR for the period between 2019 and 2020 to arrive the selection”, he said.
Also speaking, the Father of the Day, King Alfred Papa Preye Diete-Spiff, acknowledged the contributions of the oil and gas industry to national development, and called for diversification of the economy.
For piloting the corporation into the post-Petroleum Industry Act era, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) pledged its unalloyed support for the management of the NNPC.
The Group Chairman, PENGASSAN, Comrade Victor Odor, disclosed this during a courtesy visit to the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division (GPAD), GarbaDeen Muhammad, in his office in Abuja.
Odor, who said the visit was to felicitate with the corporation’s spokesman on his appointment, declared that the union would stop at nothing to defend the corporation’s current position as a profit-making company against those who believe that NNPC could never do well, adding that the NNPC GMD and his management team have done well in repositioning the corporation and deserved support.
He said the union would focus more on functional conflict management than disruptive conflict management in its constructive engagement with the management to ensure sustainable growth and profitability for the corporation.
Responding, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, GarbaDeen Muhammad, who appreciated the union leaders for the kind gesture, said the GMD was very passionate about repositioning the corporation and the entire oil and gas industry.
He assured the union leaders that management was appreciative of their support and was always ready to work with them to take the corporation to greater heights.
The Group Chairman of PENGASSAN was accompanied on the visit by the Group Vice Chairman, Comrade EghosaAghimien, and Group Secretary of PENGASSAN, Comrade OlugbengaShokunbi.
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