Growing up, we had many uniformed, voluntary clubs in most primary and secondary schools.
Clubs like Boys Scout, Boys Brigade, Girls Guides, Red Cross Society and others helped in the mental, physical, psychological and all round development of children. These clubs enabled them to utilize their time and energy usefully and productively. Virtues of discipline, cooperation, time management, team work, courage, vision, determination, volunteering as well as patriotism were instilled in the children through veritable ways.
Today, the in-thing in most schools is cultism. Tender kids in primary schools are said to be members of different cult groups. The result is the high rate of crime and violence, drug abuse, alcoholism and other dreaded habits. In various communities across the country, we hear stories of assassinations, raping, kidnapping and other criminal acts being perpetrated by the young ones.
Not long ago, in what is fast becoming a dangerous trend in Rivers State, a teenager , said to be a cultist, was beheaded at Rumuekini in one murder too many by ruthless cult groups. The following day, there was a report of youth clash in Omerelu which claimed some lives.
It is, indeed, quite worrisome that despite the effort of the state government to ensure adequate security and encourage investment, the ruthless cultists keep doing everything possible to keep Rivers State in the bad books.
With the initiation of a painstaking arms surrender and amnesty programme for repentant cultists, many thought the problem of cultism would be solved in the state. But that is yet to be achieved as many of them decided to remain in their evil act to continue shedding blood.
Unfortunately, some innocent citizens are caught in the web even as the cultists who could be leaders of tomorrow waste their lives.
Worst still, the police seem helpless and are more reactive than proactive. It is common knowledge that only when our security agencies act faster than the hoodlums would we be talking about meaningful policing and safety. It is sad that some of these bad boys are notorious and had frequently gone in and out of police custody only to be released sooner than expected to wreack more havoc in the society. Why this is so remains a big puzzle.
It is, therefore, advised that there should be a re-orientation and re-approach to security matters by our security agencies, especially the Police.
Most importantly, parents need to wake up to their responsibility of bringing up their children properly. Often, we are quick to blame politicians for arming these young ones and using them to commit crime both during and after elections and all that, but as parents, what role did we play during the formative years of these children to ensure that they are responsible?
What are the community leaders, traditional rulers, opinion leaders, youth bodies doing to make sure that these youths are of better character and useful to their families, their communities and the society at large. These miscreants who wreack havoc in our towns and villages are known to the members of these communities, what have the leaders of these communities done to eradicate this menace?
Cultism is a social problem which must be solved together as a people.
The period of looking the other way when things are going wrong in the society or feeling unconcerned when a neighbour’s child is going the wrong way is over. We must bring back the spirit of brotherliness, oneness and care which Africa is known for in solving this problem.
Above all, the uniformed clubs must be re-introduced in our primary and secondary schools and membership of, at least, one club made compulsory for all pupils and students. This will aid them to shun violence and grow into responsible adults who will understand the need for positive family life, service to one’s community and nation as well as respect to fellow men, in addition to encouraging them to strive towards personal growth, development and thus personal achievement.