AN OPENING ADDRESS DELIVERED BY DR. ISAH MOHAMMED ABBASS, REGISTRAR, PETROLEUM TRAINING INSTITUTE ON THE OCCASION OF THE SUCCESS MOTIVATION SEMINAR ON CULTISM AND TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA ON THURSDAY 12TH AUGUST, 1999 AT THE PTI CONFERENCE CENTRE, EFFURUN. The Chairman, Special Guest of Honor, Distinguished Guest Speakers, Directors, Members of Staff, Students of the Institute. CULTISM IN THE PETROLEUM TRAINING INSTITUTE It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to this seminar series on Success motivation. This forum is designed primarily to enable our students have a grasp and proper appreciation or understanding of the environment they live and the challenged as well as prospects of the future. It is thus designed to help students clearly see a prosperous future as well as the dangers ahead. It is believed that these series of seminars shall enable students pursue the prosperous path and eschew dangers. The significance of the theme of today’s seminar, which is on cultism and tertiary Institutions cannot be over emphasized especially in view of the recent mayhem caused by members of secret societies in some of our tertiary Institutions. I believe that we shall have a lot of things to learn from this seminar today; from our Guest Speakers. I therefore solicit your undivided attention throughout the period. However, it is on record that in the early years of the formation of the Petroleum Training Institute, the activities of secret societies were unknown to Management. This was because there was no single incidence of any reported activities of cult members. One factor that was responsible for this, was the method of admission into the Institute at that time. The Students who were then known as Trainees were admitted through sponsorship by reputable Corporate bodies and Organization in the Oil and Allied Companies who took responsibilities for any misdemeanor of their sponsored Students. The population of the Trainees was very small and the institute was able to monitor their activities effectively. Moreover, they were more mature and equally responsible. If there were any Trainee that were members of any secret societies, it was unknown to Management because their activities were not pronounced. With the change in the admission policy from the 1991/92 academic session, in which any person who satisfied the admission requirement was offered admission, the Institute started experiencing the activities of secret societies on campus. I wish to seize this opportunity to call on the oil and allied Industry to actively patronize PTI to sanitize the Industry in its entirety. The first known case of secret on our campus was in 1995/96 session, when a student of Electrical Electronic engineering Department reported that some fellow students of the Institute took him to an uncompleted building along Osubi-Eku road to be initiated into a secret society called the Black Axe. The case was reported to the Institute’s Security who promptly investigated the matter and all those involved were interrogated. Their parents and guardians were invited and the students were made to write an undertaking to be of good behaviour. Another case of cultism reported to management was in June 1997 when there was confrontation of two rival cult groups known as Black Axe and Eiye society. The clash resulted in the arrest of several students suspected to be cult members. They were handed over to the Police at Ekpan for investigation. Those who were suspected to be members of these secret cult were promptly prosecuted by the Police at Asaba. Their case files are still with the DPP at Enugu. After the above incidents and the action taken by Management and the security agencies, I am happy to inform you that we have not experienced any other violent case of cultism on this campus; even though there are serious indications of their potential existence and activism with great correspondence going on with other members in other Institutions. There is evidence that the Neo Black Movement of Africa (NBM) a deadly secret cult, is in existence in the Institute; which through its illegal posters, attempted to disrupt this seminar. Management has therefore set up its own machinery for combating the activities of secret societies non campus by ensuring that during orientation of new students, the Security is invited to give lectures on the dangers posed by the activities of secret societies. Apart from this method, management has requested the SSS to deploy its operatives to infiltrate the ranks of the secret societies to give information on the activities of cult members on our campus. Management will not fold its arms and watch students do whatever they feel under the guise of freedom or fundamental human rights. Students must be guided and controlled as well as punished accordingly as long as they remain students. Meanwhile, in line with the Federal Government’s order to confront the scourge of cultism, management has set a machinery in place to understand the local and external contents of cult activities as well as other forms of connivance, funding, collaboration or support. The directives and ultimatum of government to eradicate cults on campuses are commendable but this must go beyond the corners of tertiary Institutions. I strongly believe that the campuses did not, in the first place, breed cultism but the society. Government must move fast to pounce on cultism in the society who initiate youngsters and fund them for their own mischief making. it is also bewildering to note that cults are not only found in tertiary but also in secondary or even in primary Institutions. Therefore, cultism is not peculiar to campus life. It is societal malice whose solution must be provided by the society. The phenomenon of cultism in tertiary Institutions has seriously diverted both human and material resources to cure its menace while the enormity of the loss of life and property cannot be estimated or quantified. The spread of cult activities from the general society to campuses most be stopped. The decadence of the societal social setting must be reverted by ensuring that socio-economic standards are enhanced or lifted from abject poverty. I wish to appeal to the Federal government to increase the funds given to the Institute; in order to enhance academic activities; such as research laboratory practice, staff development etc. Similarly, adequate funding shall enable Management provide sports and other recreational facilities for the students. This measure would go a long way to eradicate cultism on campus, since the students and staff would be fruitfully engaged. The various speakers will enlighten us on what cultism is, the characteristic futures of cultists, the various names and symbols used for identification and laws relating to cultism. We shall also be enlightened by these eminent speakers on the emergence of cultism and why students join secret cults on campuses, the dangers inherent in the activities of cultism and its menace to the Oil and Allied Industry and the society at large. They will also proffer solutions to the problems of cultism. Finally, I wish to use this medium to appeal to students and members of staff who belong to these deadly secret societies to renounce them immediately. Thanks for listening.
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