A news report in The Tide (Wed. 30/10/2019) that “158 Cultists Surrendered Arms in Emohua”, makes it needful to throw some light into the cult phenomenon. It is in the religious angle that the cult phenomenon rightly belongs, representing break-away extremist, radical, resistant groups which can resort to terrorism to defend their beliefs and methods. Leaders of such break-away groups often claim to have some calling or illumination directing them to veer into unusual practices and beliefs. Cultism relates to epistemology.
In Nigeria currently, there are many such break-away sects who claim to have some unusual powers for healing, exorcism, miracles and wonders. Through serious investigations, one finds that there is an element of sublimation whereby the generative power is diverted away from sex and procreation into psychism. There are such groups like the Illuminati, the case of Rev. Jim Jones who led his followers into mass suicide in Guyana; Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) who went into exploration of the psychic world, etc.
The case of Joan of Arc (1412-31) was a combination of altered state of consciousness (ASC) and anamnesis. Anamnesis is the recall of experiences of thousands of years ago, which can also come about through regressive hypnosis. Some people get fascinated with these claims and the exploration of the psychic world. Many who step too far into such project often lose their mind. Regression into insanity or witch-craft is an open invitation.
Really worrisome aspects of cultism come from secret activities of the security community and faddishness of fans of great celebrities in music, sports, films and other charismatic heroes. Despite the coming and going of chief executives in governments, national security outfits constitute a cult of cryptocrats of which only the topmost hierarchy are the patrons. Through research and experiments, series of brain-control techniques and mechanisms have emerged, through which means anyone can become a zombie.
Without going into how the cryptocracy works, let it suffice to say that secret service operatives world-wide enjoy a wide immunity and anonymity, making it possible for them to reach anyone and do anything but get away with it. What is cult if not secrecy, invincibility and mysteriousness!
From the angle of faddishness, youths can easily be influenced and carried away by charismatic stars and celebrities. Groups of fans soon turn into clubs, misnamed cults, whereby passions and fashions grow into attitudinal change, with some attendant change in mindset and life-style. The possibility of such groups of impressionable youths having a god-father, with cash and other largesse to dispense, can provide wide channels of expression.
There are various international groups fishing around for youths to entice for various purposes, including the possibility of injecting “occult blood” into them through various electronic means. Some of Nigerian youths, in and outside universities, as well as various political office holders, are not quite themselves. There are many factors responsible for behavioural aberrations among Nigerian youths.
From the angle of criminal fraternity, cultism develops because of devotion and deep commitment to what the patrons and barons present as the ideal. Because oath-taking is involved for the purposes of secrecy and protection, minions hired for covert activities are afraid to pull-out when they know more of what they are into. Fields of criminal operations include drug peddling, arms trade, smuggling, oil theft, terrorism including kidnapping for ransom, etc.
What we call cultism is the enthronement of gangsterism as a system of governance, whereby hustlers for political power engage and use groups of youths as vanguards and support team at grassroots levels. With money, arms and oath-taking, coupled with some fetish rituals, devotion, commitment, secrecy and solidarity develop among the footsoldier, misnamed cultists.
Recruitment and brain-washing of some youths became common during the Nigerian Civil War, whereby local youths, out of fear and the desire for protection, served groups of soldiers in some unethical errands. Even now, there is a belief in some quarters that force, gangsterism and arms-twisting are essential means to drive the society. Existence of various contending interest groups, coupled with mass docility, resulted in the creation, arming and buying of various groups of gangsters, misnamed as cult groups.
It is an interesting and instructive field of journalistic research to understand the antics and operational mechanism of cultism in Nigeria. For the younger ones who would fear to die, there is a limit they can go. Cultism has more to do with devotional commitment to some religious ideals, and for some people, these would include use of terrorism and gangsterism to achieve some goals. Thus, where the end justifies the means, no harm is done.
Perhaps, the features of belief, devotion, commitment, secrecy and solidarity account for the use of the term “Cult” for all kinds of extremism. Thus, cultism as a belief system would include all groups of terrorists and gangsters in the domains of religion, politics, crimes, etc, who see the justice of their methods in the end result of their activities. This idea cannot sell in a sane and democratic society.
The use of unconventional drugs, weeds, brute force, secrecy and chicanery to get results through the abuse of the human mind and free will, cannot be described as right or ethical. Various studies in the ways that power has been abused in human history reveal quite shocking strategies, ranging from abuses of the human mind and body, to the abuse of the Name of God. In the political front, alliances and cabals have used power for personal and group benefits, at the expense of the masses. From the angle of symbolism, cult is defined as the use of mask to carryout tasks and for ceremonial purposes. Include Yahoo boys and their mothers.
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The Rivers State Government has expressed worries over the high level of non-compliance of health protocols with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that henceforth any resident caught without wearing facemask will be arrested and prosecuted.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim handed down the warning while speaking on a live Radio programme in Port Harcourt on Saturday and monitored by the Tide.
Nsirim who is Chairman of the State Inter-ministerial Committee on Enlightenment for Covid-19 recalled the unhappiness of Governor Nyesom Wike during last Wednesday’s State broadcast with the attitude of many residents who flaunt extant directives on the wearing of facemask and other health protocols.
“The Governor in that broadcast also expressed concern that a lot of people in the State are not obeying the protocols. Social distancing, wearing of facemask and he spoke specifically in what is happening in some churches. Government will introduce policies, the onus is on the populace to obey those policies.
“Not just obeying it, the Covid-19 pandemic that we are talking about has defied medical solution for now. So to flatten the curve, everyone living and doing business in Rivers State has to take responsibility.
“If I take responsibility and everyone around me takes responsibility to observe the relevant protocol, we are sure to flatten the curve. But if people live righteously and just do as if nothing is happening because there are places where people are just living in denial.
“Some people still believe that there is nothing like Coronavirus. Two weeks ago, my committee rounded off street to street campaign in all the 23 local government areas of the State. They still met people who are in this denial. That is the challenge.
“The Governor is desirous that Rivers State remains safe. That is why he is initiating policies to ensure that strategically the state is somehow isolated from the national spread,” the Commissioner said.
Nsirim further said, “If you go around the State, since the executive order on facemask was introduced. You will notice that less than
30 per cent of the populace are really obeying that executive order. What we are seeing in the State is that people just put the mask around their chin.
“You go to some churches we see people open their mouth and things will be spewing out in the enclosed environment on the chin. The Governor is saying that to give this wearing of facemask the kind of weight that it deserves to save our people, a special taskforce be put in place.
“That is the only sure way because a lot of people are still living in denial. He said the governor’s broadcast is very clear, arrest and prosecute. Henceforth we will arrest and prosecute people not wearing facemask in public places,” he stated.
The Rivers State Government spokesman said arrangements have been concluded to monitor churches that fail to observe the guidelines of not more than 70 persons per church service, wearing of facemask, provision of water for hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers, while weddings and burial ceremonies should not exceed 50 persons.
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