Today, cultism has developed into a major social predicament both within and outside of campuses of tertiary institutions in Nigeria . History has it that Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka led his group of friends, then undergraduates of the University of Ibadan to start the Pyrates Confraternity in 1953.The formation of a normal university fraternity, in line with longstanding and enduring university culture and tradition all over the world, has metamorphosed into a monster 50 years later. It started without the violence and killings that characterize the savage phenomenon known today as "cultism" in our campuses and secondary schools (yes! secondary schools!). In the trajectory of the metamorphosis from confraternities to "juvenile-like" criminal gangs, there is one very critical factor I will want to address in this article.

The trajectory is so complex, apart from accounts of the rationale, history, development and justifications and defenses usually articulated by the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) to absolve themselves and their organization, all the others are no more than uncoordinated and scanty comments led by agents of the Nigerian state, a failed establishment that should really take the blame for the growth of armed gangs and criminality in, not only our campuses, but the entire Nigerian society.

The Role of the Federal Military Government of IBB

The turning point here was the 1986 nationwide protests by all Nigerian university students against the evil Structural Adjustment Program instituted by the evil genius himself, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida a.k.a. Maradona. The SAP protests were solidly organized and were successful from Lagos to Maiduguri , Calabar to Sokoto and Port Harcourt to Kano . The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) was the real NANS (not today's hungry band of misguided elements, many of whom are not even bona fide students), constituted by equally strong and democratic Students' Union Governments across the campuses nationwide. NANS was perhaps the largest democratic organization in Nigeria at the time. You needed to see the constitution of NANS and how it was vibrantly practiced and implemented then, to appreciate the strong democracy that characterized the revolutionary organization. That democracy then in NANS and the SUGs helped to promote a unity based on ideas and issues at the expense of petty and primordial sentiments of ethnicity, religion and ego which are common today in Nigeria 's universities.

The SAP protests shook the IBB regime to its very foundation. The unity of purpose shown by the entire Nigerian students was indeed too much for the evil genius.  At no time in Nigeria 's history did a mass number of citizens sustain any issue-based protests across the length and breadth of the country for one week. Indeed, it was not students alone, the people were joining the protests too, in Lagos , Maiduguri , Jos, Zaria , Calabar and all university towns, protests spilled out of the campuses and the angry masses joined in the peaceful protests. Indeed, it was a Herculean task for "riot" policemen, often used as instruments of repression by our rapacious state, to contain the rampaging protests. It dawned on the evil genius and his spymasters in the SSS, DMI etc. that this vibrant national outlook student movement could easily grow and develop into a massive force for a real and genuine popular and national revolution. A plan was quickly hatched to destabilize the students' movement using various tricks and draconian measures.

On the surface, IBB, the Maradona warned lecturers to stop teaching what "they were not paid to teach". The deportation of the revolutionary scholar, Patrick Wilmot of the Ahmadu Bello University , Zaria , and the detention and harassment of some lecturers served as a warning to defiant lecturers who were "inciting" students with revolutionary ideas. But there was also a secret but very destructive agenda. It was carefully worked out and executed with a deadly precision that can only be executed by an evil genius of IBB's variety. The stratagems of IBB's evil agenda are listed below:

  • A decree was promulgated to weaken student unionism by making it "voluntary". But SUGs were first banned after the SAP protests. However, the result of weak student unions was the rise in clandestine and primordial micro student organizations that were never based on any objective issues. Not that this micro organizations did not exist prior to the decree banning SUGs, but the strength of SUGs overwhelmed the small tribal, class, and religious unions. The fall of SUGs created a vacuum that had to be filled, youth at that vibrant age needed some form of associational life, but these associations grew and created divisions and heightened unhealthy competition and tensions in the campuses.
  • Knowing fully well that the ban on unionism will not be enough to weaken it (for instance, in spite of the ban, students of the University of Ibadan held a referendum for independent student unionism, which resulted in over 96.7% of the students voting for unionism, in 1987; more universities joined the independent "referendum" fray) the IBB junta then devised a strategy of infiltrating the students' movement and sponsored candidates for SUG positions. This was done by effectively channeling "campaign funds" through sources including the university authorities and secret state agents masqueraded as students. In fact, some of the state agents (SSS, Police, NIA, DMI, etc) themselves ran for offices and won. One state agent in my Alma Mata, the University of Jos , told me there are state agents in every class/level of all courses in all Nigerian Universities since after the SAP riots of 1986.
  • Knowing fully well that introduction of money in campus politics could also fail (and it failed indeed, in the beginning) secret agents of the state also effectively introduced guns and other weapons to "fight" popular unionism. During SUG electioneering campaigns, popular candidates were secretly cowed by the use of arms supplied the state. Cults groups were given arms with which they openly disrupted popular and democratic SUG processes and structures with impunity, while enjoying protection of both the university authorities and the security agencies including the police.

The simultaneous execution of this well calculated and deliberate agenda to weaken the students' movement as measure against a feared popular revolution, following the national SAP protests of 1996, marked the unfortunate turning point where the trajectory of "cultism" took a viciously violent turn. It must be here understood that the evil genius himself represented and acted in the interest of an equally evil ruling elite that continues to rape Nigeria to this day. Today, IBB's strategy has succeeded in permanently fractionalizing the students' movement and IBB and the ruling elite can conveniently have a firm grip on power and continue their rape of Nigeria's resources without losing sleep over any threats of a popular revolt like that mobilized in 1986, but the unintended consequences of that secretly executed agenda is what has turned our campuses into centers of violence and death today. IBB, and not Soyinka is responsible for the creation of violence in our campuses.


Join the conversation through disqus comments or via our forum. Click on any of the tabs below to select your desired option. Please engage decently.

  • Disqus Comments
  • Facebook
  • Forum Discussion

Re: Stop Blaming Soyinka: Blame IBB for Violence in Our Campuses
Kay Enay posted on 11-19-2007, 21:58:47 PM
blame neither of them, but all. soyinka and co formed just a group, IBB had a military junta to preserve. the blame lies in the systemic failure of society itself under the auspices of successsive inept, divided and fractured government pre-dating even IBB's regime. if nigeria had worked in the first place devoid of a bloodied past national life the words law and justice would have had more meaning and those unguilded youth cloaking themselves in misdemeanour called cultism would have long abandoned that dark apparel or face the dire consequences.
Re: Stop Blaming Soyinka: Blame IBB for Violence in Our Campuses
ALORAINIDDEVIL posted on 11-20-2007, 16:59:53 PM
Listen my man, you are just yarning trash and I guess you are doing so to defend your Oga whom over 70% of NVS members (except PC guys here) have blamed for cultism in our universities. From all you have written I can perceive you are a member of PC┬ů sorry NAS.

Let me ask you one question; before 1986 sap revolt, has there ever been a deadly cult crisis in a Nigerian University?

Tell your self the truth and call a SPADE A SPADE.
Please register before you can make new comment