Dealing With Cultism - Open Letter to Nigerian Students on Campus Banditry

Dear Students.

We are compelled to write you this letter which we are directing especially at those of you who have decided to treat the laws of the nation with cold contempt and have taken delight in the worst form of banditry in the name of fraternity. It will not get you anything but lifetime regret and shame if you are lucky enough to escape life behind bars or premature departure to six feet below.

All over the world, fraternities among youths, especially the type encouraged in higher institutions of learning, exist to foster brotherhood, collective aspiration and pursuit of noble goals. They provide a platform for leadership capability building and provide a forum and opportunity for active participation in nation building. It was never intended to be an avenue for exhibiting juvenile delinquency and unrestricted unrestrained, senseless masochism. Least of all, it was never intended to become an avenue to take or jeopardise life with impunity.

It does not matter who you are or you think you may be. The life you take wilfully, the body on which you pour acid, the person you maim, these will forever remain unpardonable permanent stains on your conscience. It will not matter who you grow to become. Life for you can never be the same again. Think about the day you will leave school and you will be on your own. That is when the evil you commit today will come back to hunt you. Then, there will be no place to hide. You will cry in agony and wish you had not done what you did. There will be no solace, for you would have stained your life with the blood of the innocent.

To warn you all, the democratic state has vast networks of institutions to deal with you, far superior to any you can command. Do you really think you can take the laws into your hand and get away with it? DonÕt think about it! Do not let your youth be possessed with evil. Society will not just simply accept you as a prodigal son gone astray. Society will demand you pay for your crime and redeem yourself of the evil in you. Society will insist you purge yourself of the demon of cultism that is currently taking control of you. Whether you like it or not, you will one day face the larger society and that will be when you will be fully exposed to the taming influence of the establishment as Late Professor Billy Dudley would say. ThatÕs when for the evil you perpetrated, you would wish you had never passed through those days.

Let us remind you of a simple fact you must never forget. Some people founded the fraternities you have today hijacked and turned to instruments of terror and brigandage. Try as much as you can, you can never take them on. They will now come and take back their property from you having found you unworthy of the honour of association. Rather than aspire to be the next generation of Nigerian Nobel Laureates, the UN/Commonwealth Secretary Generals of your time, the Bill Gates of your generation, the architects of NigeriaÕs march into the next millennium as a Superpower of the first order, you have chosen the path of crime aspiring for degrees in banditry, arson and immorality. Well, the end has come.

It is regrettable the founders of the other fraternities made the mistake of not terminating their campus existence as the Pyrates did in 1984. They derided the Pyrates Confraternity then as having surrendered by pulling out of the campuses, a situation that led to these organisations embarking on mindless pursuit of supremacy. Yet it was clear that the original notion of fraternity was being systematically hijacked by the vanity, hypocrisy and mediocrity of the children of the vagabond elites in power. The founders should now realise the damage their oversight (or lack of vision) has done to the nation. They must now take up the challenge and go and clean their mess. Feigned dissociation is no longer tenable. Action is what is required.

To give you cultists with fascistic orientation and accompanying criminal propensity opportunity to redeem yourselves, please know that fraternity as we know it encourages active intellectualism. It demands a lifetime of sacrifice for the sake of humanity. It requires you place all others over and above your own narrow ego considerations. It aspires to define and sustain a noble, sometimes utopian vision for society. It seeks to help create an environment in which all can achieve their potential without let or hindrance. It seeks to destroy artificial barriers that stand in the way of each and all fulfilling his or her worthy aspirations in life. Our own fault in our time was in our unrelenting demand for this utopian idealism, which demanded we articulate and demand the best for society. It also demanded we radiate those ideals in our life. We were never given to trivialities. Fighting over girlfriends? What a shame! We never shied from exams. To have a re-sit makes you unworthy of membership of the fraternity. Failure was never our credo.

Fraternity is about challenge and how to meet those challenges of life squarely. It is about pulling up those who are down and provide succour to the downtrodden. It was fraternity that made some of us pay the fees of fellow indigent students from our little scholarships. Fraternity did not teach us the use of acid as a weapon. We knew acid as part of the fluid to use in producing some of the wonders of life. Fraternity taught us about civilised existence, not jungle, primitive and barbaric domination of fellow human beings.

Academic institutions were the last bastion of freedom for anyone lucky enough to be there. Up to a point, education is a right. At another level beyond the basic, it is a privilege. Only rights are defensible. Privileges can be withdrawn when abused. Academic institutions are citadels of learning that must not be tainted by any kind of blood. They are where a most vital part of the body, the brain is developed and prepared fully for the benefit of society. They are not places for mindless masochism and callous disregard for the sanctity of life.

We abhorred the presence of armed policemen on our campuses not because we sought to be outside society, but because we considered such would hinder the desired freedom to pursue excellence in character and learning. One of the reasons Pyrates Confraternity was founded was to fight the growing alienation of University College of Ibadan Students from the larger society. Today, you the cultists have wilfully called on the Federal Government to introduce special armed campus police. What a shame and what a price to pay for your recklessness and misadventure. The sad news is with what happened in OAU as the last straw, you have broken the CamelÕs back and must now pay that price.

Supremacy, Control, Domination. We hear this is part of your motivation for violence. Unbridled rivalry. Fraternity is not about rivalry to dominate, it is about competition to provide the best leadership. After all, what makes you think of the academic institutions as your private kingdoms to dominate? That space of excellence, learning and research belongs to humanity, not to barbarians. Fraternity is not about curtailment of rights, it is about expansion of opportunity. Fraternity does not survive on fear, it flourishes on respect earned. Leadership is in what people think of you and your capabilities deep in their hearts, not in what commands you force them to obey or the torture, pain and agony you make them suffer.

Fraternity is about brotherhood that lets you be your brotherÕs keeper, it is not about parochialism and narrow mindedness. It is not about secrecy, neither is it about cultism. It is a clear manifestation of weakness to result into cultism. No one aspiring to leadership does anything noble under the cloak of secrecy or cover of darkness. Whatever you do that cannot be subjected to public scrutiny and you emerge unscathed is not worth it. Nobility does not thrive on empty bravado. Darkness will not hide you forever. The light will come one day and you will be exposed.

Our democracy is young but now has a real chance of survival. It means respect for the rights of others, the sanctity of life, the rule of law. It demands freedom of association. Democracy recognises the rights to dissent. Disputes are allowed which is why we have the law courts. IT DOES NOT CONFER ON ANYONE THE RIGHT TO TAKE ANOTHER PERSONÕS LIFE. Even in civilised societies, the call is on to abrogate capital punishment, the right of the state to kill. Do you make such campaigns possible here by what you do?

Opportunities offered by democracy are abundant. Position yourselves to take advantage of those opportunities soon to emerge, to grow and help society grow. This is the challenge for you. Society will help itself in building and sustaining those values that make a people strong and dynamic. If you join in the efforts, you will be richly rewarded by those opportunities that will emerge. If you stand in the way, you will be crushed by the train of development now gathering its momentum. The choice is yours.

The money the government will now be forced to spend building a counterforce to your misguided exuberance could have been spent re-building your classrooms and hostels, re-equipping your laboratories and re-stocking your libraries. Yet, when the chips are down, society will opt to eliminate agents of waste than accommodate their idiosyncrasies.

Many have said what you became is a reflection of the larger society. Nonsense! You were supposed to have been the insulators against students assimilating this barbaric counterculture, not the catalysts of irredentism. You were supposed to have been in the vanguard of the campaign against the militarisation of society, not the last custodians of paramilitary (or is it pseudo-military) nakedness in aggression. We hear you are being used! Hogwash! Anyone who can be used in a manner that violates his/her principles and values does not deserve to be in our higher institutions of learning.

Shame on you all for bringing dishonour to us, our academic institutions and our nation particularly at this time of national re-awakening! Now we demand that you immediately disarm yourselves, change your life and dedicate yourselves to the service of humanity. For your crimes so far, we demand now that you collectively approach the authorities of your institutions, apologise and offer yourselves for a year of social service within your schools to atone for the embarrassment you have caused everyone. There is a chance you might be forgiven but act first along this path of penitence. Send delegations to the families you have traumatised and ask for their forgiveness. What you spend a year on your weapons, on your drugs, on your drinks and on your disco forays, gather together and pay as token restitution to the families whose hopes you have shattered.

Meanwhile, the law must still take its full course on all those who have committed crimes against humanity. Similarly, all those who by acts of commission or omission contributed to the orgy of violence must pay for it. Let the law fear no one, no matter how highly placed. Government will not abdicate its responsibility to protect life and property by condoning extreme forms of juvenile delinquency that embrace rape, murder and drug Ð inspired behaviour as a way of life. Society will now fight back and viciously too with the same intensity you have tarnished the sacred shrines of learning.

We have offered you the easy way out. It is up to you to take it. We order that you do. But if you do not, you will be asking for the worst not just from government, but also from us. Enough is enough. Open your eyes now and see what contributions we are trying to make to society. This is where we need you, not in the valley of the shadow of death as SatanÕs angels of terror. The cues have been provided. It is up to you to take them now and reform your ways. We will not stand by if you continue along this path of insanity. Our banner, as we were taught in those days, was to be without stain. We will not allow you to shred the lofty banners of nationhood especially at this time of national renaissance. In your chosen path of hooliganism, murder and destruction, we will not let you be. Society will not let you be.

DROP YOUR WEAPONS TODAY AND TURN A NEW LEASE OF LIFE!!! Now is the time to say no more to violence. Drug will not develop you, stop the habit today for your own good and for the sake of your future. Let OAU be the last, the very last! This is our call to you today. Heed it.

Ben Oguntuase
Cap'n, National Association of Seadogs

Tuesday, 13 July 1999

 
Note to the Media

Some publications today claimed that one of the perpetrators arrested and detained by the students mentioned "seadogs" and "pyrates" as the people behind the dastardly acts at OAU. I have met media executives on several occasions during which I made it clear that the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) does not exist on any Campus. Members of the media present during our last meeting would recall that you threw the challenge at us to do something about the phenomenon in order to terminate the violence. We accepted the challenge.

I like to assure you once again that we do not operate on any campus and there could never have been any member of the Pyrates Confraternity involved in any of these activities. I am absolutely certain of this and will request that you use all your investigative capability to ascertain or debunk this claim.

Our present effort is to help in the process of reforming these students who have gone astray.

Signed:


Ben Oguntuase
NAS Capone
National Association of Seadogs (NAS)

13th July 1999


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