Cultism in campus: Lessons from OAU
The students of Obafemi Awolowo University are currently commemorating the death of five students who were massacred by members of the Black Axe Confraternity on July 10, 1999. George Iwilade, Eviano Ekeimu, Yemi Ajiteru, Babatunde Oke and Godfrey Ekpede were slaughtered in cold blood in the wee hours of the fateful day. The horrible event didn’t go or slide away unchallenged.
The students’ union leaders at the period mobilised their fellows and rose to the occasion. They immediately swung into action, apprehended some of the suspected cultists and handed them over to the police. Although numerous occurrences have thwarted all efforts to bring the perpetrators of the cult - attack to book, the ugly incident became a symbol of resistance against neo fascist elements on the OAU campus.
The students, who paid the supreme price, were therefore immortalised and their remembrance comes up annually.
A three-day programme has been traditionally dedicated as a mark of honour for the victims in the aftermath of the orchestrated attack. On every July 8, OAU students troop out to sign a book of condolences which is traditionally placed at the front of the Students’ Union Building.
After the condolence register, there comes an anti-cultism parade and sensitisation against engagement in cultrelated activities on July 9. The most remarkable day of the commemoration is July 10. On this day, a public symposium is organised where notable former students’ union leaders speak on dire consequences and horror which cultism begets.
Every generation of students is properly sensitised on how cultism kills dream chasers faster than death. The sensitisation has made the university community hostile to cult activities. The blood of the five gruesomely murdered students has continued to water the flower of freedom on the campus. In OAU, the supremacy of arguments has been the greatest tool to resolve conflict among students as against the survival of the fittest in some other tertiary institutions.
OAU students have set a mechanism to utterly combat cult-related activities on the campus. Ironically, cultism has become a pride among students in many other higher institutions across the country despite the loss of lives and casualties regularly emanating from rival clashes, battles of supremacy and some other criminal activities. It has become a norm to affiliate with one cult group or the other. It is high time other students in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions broke from the yoke of cultism and set a tradition or legacy in eradicating cultism. This remains the only way to guarantee a serene campus, safety of lives, future careers and dreams.
Binzak Azeez is from the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife