‘Collapse of values responsible for rise in cult activities’
A senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos, Akoka, Dr. Pius Adejoh, in this interface with ONYEDIKA AGBEDO, blames the upsurge in cult activities among teenagers on the collapse of values and communal living.
What do you think is responsible for the rise of cultism among teenagers?
The simple reason it is happening is because the control mechanisms adopted in the school appears not to exist out there. The youths on the streets are not regulated by anybody as it were. If you come to the campuses, you will see that the school authorities are up and doing to ensure sanity and safety within the school premises. If the schools are going to be worth their onions, if they are going to remain in business, they must provide some measure of safety. You couldn’t say so of our neighbourhoods. Who is in control of the neighbourhood? Perhaps some politicians, who themselves recruit these young people to carry out nefarious activities in the name of politics or whatever.
So, one will say that the control mechanism outside the school environment has collapsed. It used to be that in the neighbourhood, everybody was every other person’s keeper; every child was every other person’s child. So, parents cared; neighbours cared. Today, that kind of mechanism has collapsed. Children are on their own; parents are on their own; families are on their own. Parents have lost control even over their own children. Traditional rulers have lost control over their subjects. The policemen themselves no longer have any form of deterrent because if you have the means you can buy up a whole police station. So, who is there checking who?
And then violence is being celebrated today. Who are those succeeding? They are the violent ones who become rich by dubious means. They don’t have regard for morality; they don’t have regard for values. These are the people the young ones are looking up to today.
Is there any link between street cultism and the security challenges confronting the country presently?
Who are those into drug? Who are those involved in kidnapping? Who are those involved in armed robbery? Who are those involved in 419? Are they not these people in our neighbourhoods? Do you care who stays next to you? So, they are all interconnected. If our neighbourhoods are in order, if our neighbourhoods are working, the entire society will work. National security is a combination of security in various communities. And it is in these communities that everybody is like, ‘to your tents oh Israel’. The society has collapsed absolutely. So, what you see manifesting by way of criminality at the national level is just an amplification of what happens in our neighbourhoods.
“There is what we call the broken window theory in criminology. The broken window theory says that if there is a small leakage and you fail to block it, before you know it, it will begin to multiply. We saw things creeping in and everybody looked away. Today, it is trying to consume us. So, what we are seeing whether by way of kidnapping, armed robbery and all manner of crimes is the consequence of the collapse of our community life.
What do you see as the solution to the menace of street cultism?
Government has to take the initiative but you know government cannot do it alone. The families have to key in; the churches have to key in; the mosques have to key in. But government should take the lead. It should mobilise all these people and let’s understand the gravity of the problem that is trying to consume all of us.
You know that today, it doesn’t matter how you make your money. There are clerics who pray for armed robbers before they go for an operation. Parents don’t asked their children how they are making the money they are enjoying; the important thing is that they are making money. So, all of us are accomplices to this problem. So, we must reinvent ourselves but the government must take the lead.
Also, the media is not helping this society. They are glorifying things that should not be glorified. Who do we promote and celebrate? We promote and celebrate inanities. The media is an agenda setter. The media mold character; it is part of the socialisation process. How are they doing that?
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