PUBLIC RELATIONS AS A TOOL FOR ERADICATING CULTISM IN NIGERIAN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
Evaluation is a prelude to strategic action. Strategies once identified must definitely be evaluated, so as to determine whether it is serving the required purpose. However, this topic is based on “The use of public relation as a tool for eradicating cultism in Nigeria tertiary institutions; A case study of Institute of Management and Technology. I.M.T Enugu” The main data-gathering instruments were questionnaire questions. Frequency and percentages were also utilized in the analysis of data. The major findings of the study were; Cultism activities are spreading like wild in all the institutions in the country. Immediate implantation of strategies has to be put in place to control the spread. Government should assist school authority in fighting the war. Any identifies members should be expected from school with out concession. Cultism is a crime to man and. so should be avoided.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The study is on public relations as a veritable tool for eradicating cultism in Nigeria tertiary institutions having the institute of management and technology, IMT, Enugu as a case study. To say how public relations could achieve this feat, examining its history becomes inevitable. This is justified in George Santayama’s quotation when he said, “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. As long as this study focuses on public relations as a tool for eradicating of secret cult in Nigerian tertiary institutions especially in IMT, it is then essential to examine the history of secret cult, their mode of operation, their aims and objectives, their method of recruitment and their names and headquarters in Nigeria. It is when all these facts about secret cult and public relations are being taken into consideration that solution to it could be recommended in IMT using public relations as its chief tool.
Public relations is as old as mankind. Public relations affect almost everyone who has a contact with other human beings. All of us, in one-way or the other practice or experience public relations daily. In the ancient times, priests served as public relations advisers to their kings. They were experts in public opinion and persuasions. The kings consulted them before any major decision or important ceremonial events were under taken. Also the priests conducted literature, poems of praises and lamentations and edicts to govern the people. Julius Caesar was a master of persuasive techniques, faced with an imminent battle; Caesar would rally public support through assorted publications and staged events. There were also the establishment of the daily newspaper called the “ACTA BIURINA” or daily record containing government decrees and other information.
The public relations in Nigeria has come a long way, its beginning has been linked with the Second World War. As presented by Nigerian institute of public relations (NIPR) 1988 anniversary publication “25 years of public relations in Nigeria”. The colonial government before World War II was concerned with collection of taxes and the running of a police force to maintain law and order in three protectorates amalgamated into Nigeria in 1914. If there was any public relations practice before the World War II, it was merely maintenance of relationship with the traditional rulers world war however, the need arose for the colonial government to set up an information officer, which was later known as the public relations officer of the government. According to Adebola 1992) “the public relations office was primarily set up to publicize the colonial war and to encourage the youth to join the war.
Mike Okereke, one of the pioneers of modern public relations in Nigeria, declared recently in a speech that the profession is about 30 years old.In the post independence era however, there was significant development in government public relations activities. The NIPR (1988) anniversary publication reveals that government took the advantage of the information ministry and utilized effectively the machinery at the federal level to build its image. Since political culture allowed autonomous control of information channel at the state level, the party in power effectively utilized the machinery to promoter its image. There were Liaison officers in each state and during the Shagari administration (1979-83) the ministry of information became a part of the office of the resident. Even with the advent of the military in 1983 the federal government believed in the power of public relations in the act of governance.
In the private sector many organizations have contributed to the growth of modern public relations practice in Nigeria. For instance, in 1949 the United African company, UAC, established its public relations department and thus became the pioneer of public relations practice in the private sector in Nigeria. It basic objectives were to inform business and commerce about business activities as well as to project UAC as a major Nigerian industrial, technical and commercial company involved in the stability of the economic life and progress of Nigeria. People associated with large organization often are unaware of what is happening with the institution that affect their interest and as a result, serious misunderstanding occur between management and its publics and thus, goodwill is sacrificed. To explain corporate policies, actions and bring about better understanding with workers, students, management requires public relations technique.
Public relations have grown as important as institutions recognized that they have social responsibility to serve the public. In the past corporations existed solely to make money for their owners but today, corporations function as a creator of employment, social institutions and benefactor of education, patrons of arts and advocate of good government. Modern public relations involve research, communication, complex activities and evaluation. It involves doing right and talking about it, all in a planned and systematic manner. It is not lobbying, talking about ourselves all the time without backing our talks with concrete actions. Public relations is not window dressing, vicious propaganda or lies, unnecessary details and shallow gimmicks, it does not mean putting beautiful women in the front office, expecting them to perform public relations wonders with their smiles and charms. Planned PR is moving effective than fire alarm; it also plans ahead for future crisis of the unexpected events. Before we can say what public relations are, let us first understand what PR is not. It is not the HOD, SDDE in his chaffier-driven TOYOTA Lexus, it is not the smooth-talking ladies in IMT offices convincing a group of interested students to pay their stabilization fees, and it is not the mini skirt students flaunting her near-nakedness at bulging-eye admirers etc. Therefore, what is a public relations?
According to British institute of public relations (1945) “public relations is deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public”. In other hand, we have the recent acceptable definition of PR propounded by cornfield and more that “public relations is a social philosophy of management expressed in policies and practices through two way communication with its public strives to secure mutual under standing and goodwill.
The public relations in house exists in between the leadership of a firm, organization or an establishment and the members of the work staff- the led. This relationship talks about the communication of ideas and opinion of the firm by the management to the members of staff, or between the school management of IMT and their students. It may come by means of mechanisms like seminars, conferences, workshop drama, documentaries and rallies etc. It is done to communicate to the students or the members of staff the new decisions, policies and plans of the management in such a way those questions about the status quo is permitted by the management. In such trends, the management is ready to satisfy everyone’s question with an adequate answer.
The tools of this public relations are publicity, press conferences, promotion, propaganda, exhibition, luncheon, public opinion, media relations, calendar, personal communication, seminars, visits to opinion leaders, notice boards, student hand books, workshops, radio, TV and public speaking etc. It is clear to everybody’s understanding the meaning of “secret” as clandestine but when it is places before another word “cult” there is a breach of thought before its can be correctly interpreted. Cult according to oxford advanced learners’ dictionary (1990) it means the system of religious worship, especially one that is expressed in rituals….Therefore cultism would mean cult + isms meaning the distinctive doctrine or practice of cult. It has its rituals, which comes up to sacrifices with animals and sometimes human beings resulting to killings that are rife in the society.
Undoubtedly, IMT, Enugu is one the tertiary institutions in Nigeria but in a doldrums today because of cult activities in the school. The school authority had confirmed that cultism has now gone out of control and the cultist are carrying out all sorts of atrocities with impurity all over the institutions. The basic conditions for sustained academic culture are no more. The institution has fallen into disrepute. In place of academic rigor and search for truth, strange, anti-social cult and inglorious fraternity have taken over IMT. Examination malpractices, banditry and sundry vice now stock IMT.
Some of the bogging questions are:
1. Why cultism in IMT
2. What can be done to curb it?
Before attempting to answer these questions, it is pertinent to sketch a historical background on how cult was initiated in Nigerian high institutions.
The idea of campus confraternity began in 1953 when Prof. Wole Soyinka established and registered the pirate confraternity. The idea started with the formation of the eagles. A campus magazine devoted to fighting colonial regressive as represented by the Bug, a journal committed to promoting ideals of white supremacy, at the same time reducing the grandeur of Africanism.
Thus Soyinka, Pius Olegbe, Ralph Opara, Aig-Innokhuede, Ofoghale Armata Oyelola and two others came together with the establishment of pirate confraternity, which was registered at the university of Ibadan. The noble laurette wrote in a small treatise on the formation of pirates and said “one thing we agreed was that there would not be any room for colonial mentality I the club. Thus, the pirate confraternity was born. We were going to be a sort of counter-revolution against colonialism”.
The first initiation took place behind Tedder hall in 1953 at university of Ibadan, where Soyinka was chosen as the captain. The group had a symbol of mystery, which was Krola, a kind of soft drink at the time mixed with beer.
The group was not really a secret cult. Soyinka further noted “most of the rites, ceremonies and mysteries surrounding the club activities were later-day innovation of future generation who identified with ideals of the club at the time”. In 1942 however, there were minor skirmishes within the pirates fold for ideological differences. The fight was between those who embraced radical politics and others who had ice-cream consciousness and also those who betrayed the ideology of the pirates’ founding fathers, which the claimed should be substituted with indecent conduct and abuse of the pirates’ status on the campus.
Confrontation ensued many pirates were suspended. They formed the Buccaneer with the sole aim of destroying pirates’ legacy. Despite the skirmishes, the two groups maintained a relatively peaceful co-existence and even carried out humanitarian gestures. But, events took a new shape around 1987 when pirates pulled out of university campuses after a grandiose midnight meeting at Nsukka, Enugu state. Since then cultisms in Nigerian tertiary institutions have changed to terrorism, many devilish things have happened. Recently, an IMT student, popularly known as “Nature” was murdered in cold blood at campus II. Rival cult members at the Trans Ekulu area while going to visit a friend killed another student. Similar incidents like this had happened in other Nigerian tertiary institutions all over the country.
Worst still, female secret cults like Black Brassiere, Amazon and Daughters of Jezebel have emerged like a rash. The female secret cults are as violent as their male counterparts.
Some of the names and headquarters of these secret cult are: the black bee and black cat at UNN, the buccaneers at ESUT, the sea dogs at UNEC, the Ogboni confraternity with headquarters at ESUT, the Ondo state university; the Red Dogs, the Mafia group with headquarters at UNIPORT; the Eckanka, the Mgbamgba Brothers with headquarters at UNIZIK; the Black Beret; the Free Masonry Fraternity with headquarters at UNICAL; the Vickings with headquarters at UNIPORT; the Amazon, the daughters of Jezebel with headquarters at Edo state; Black Brassiere, Temple of Elders, Burkina Faso revolution, Trojan Horse, Neo-Black movement etc. This packaged programme will be communicated to people of IMT community whom the project is meant for. Finally, evaluation of the programme will be under taken to know the success or otherwise of the programme and also to know if an alternative solution would be sort.
Some identifiable causes of this cultism in IMT are:
i. Adolescent delinquency, in those days you had more matured students who even have families back home but these days the reverse is the case.
ii. The triple effect of cultism on the larger society. Some of these students are themselves secret cult members, so their children or students copied from them.
iii. Also the free time available to these students of IMT occasioned by the inadequacies in facilities and equipment are equally responsible.
iv. Other reasons why some of IMT students may join secret cults are for reasons of self-protection and security. Some are even lured by friends to join and some are forces into cults.
Finally, the management will be informed and encouraged to establish a functional library for gainful engagement of the students in full-scale academic work hence no time for cult activities.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The basic conditions for sustained academic culture have been eroded in IMT. The institution has fallen into disrepute and the product of the institution are no more what they used to be. Cult activities are seriously affecting all academic activities. Sometimes, students are attacked in hostiles, classrooms, bus stops etc. Daylight and gang raping becomes the order of the day; killing of students by members of cult is no longer news, therefore the need to eradicate this problem in IMT through public relations communication becomes imperative.
Public relations as problems solving communication is expected to create the necessary enlightenment of the students of IMT and awaken them to what is needed of them in an academic community like IMT, especially now that various levels of government and the general overhaul of all Nigerian tertiary institutions. During the ministerial nominee on June 22, 1999, in the senate floor; some of the screening questions bordered on the economy, education, and general decay in the educational system and cultism. In order to tackle this problem successfully, both the students and the general public of IMT and even the government should take the challenge upon themselves and give the IMT management an unalloyed support for the actualization of the laudable programme. No doubt if this programme is well packaged and implemented the problem of cultism in IMT will come to pass. Problem of this study include the following:
i. Name information of the IMT publics about the problems and dangers posed by cultism in IMT.
ii. Inadequate policies and programmes of IMT management to the students against cultism in IMT, Enugu.
iii. Inadequate mobilization and encouragement of the students to support the crusade against secret cults.
iv. Now programmes that will help students to resist any persuasion from friends to join secret cults.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The aim of this study include the following:
1. To find out the extent of non-information on cultism and its dangers to IMT students.
2. To ascertain the extent of adequacy of mobilization and encouragement of the students to support the crusade against cultism.
3. To examine the adequacy of policies and programme of IMT management on cultism to the students.
4. To find out if there were laws that will help students resist joining of secret cults.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The relevance of this study cannot be over-emphasized in that, the research will help to excavate the evolution and the remote causes of this problem and proffer an enduring solutions to it in IMT in particular and the whole nation at large. This study is also significant because it will awaken the IMT management and other educational institutions of the importance of public relations as an effective and wonderful tool for solving any institutional problems of whatever ramifications. The study is equally significant because it will make one know the modus operandi of these secret cults nation wide. Also their names and headquarters are equally covered by this study. The study is significant because it will show when public an private organizations acknowledged the importance of PR in business. And finally, it will clear areas people so have misconceptions about public relations and also touch and highlight what public relations is not.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTION
To guide this study four-research question was formulated as listed below:
1. To what extent has non-information on cultism and its damages to IMT students?
2. To what extent are the mobilization and encouragement of the students on cultism adequate to support the crusade against it?
3. To what extent, policies and programmes of IMT management adequate on cultism?
4. What laws of the IMT prevent the students from joining secret cult?
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H1 The non-information on cultism has cursed a lot of damage to IMT students.
H0 The non-information on cultism has not cursed any damage to IMT students.
H2 The public relations department of IMT has been mobilizing and encouraging the students to support crusade against cultism.
H0 The public relations department of IMT has not been mobilizing and encouraging the students to support any crusade against cultism.
H3 The schools authorities has put up a policies and programmes for IMT on cultism
H0 The schools authorities has not put up any policies and programmes for IMT on cultism
H4 There are many laws developed by the school authority of IMT to prevent the student from joining secret cults.
H0 There are no laws developed by the school authority of IMT in preventing the student from joining secret cults.
1.7 CONCEPT IONAL AND OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS.
CON: Public- is any group or segment with which the organization has relations or interacts with in the course of its corporations or practices.
OP: Public- the segment the organization has relations or interaction with: the workers, students and management.
CON: Public Relations- is a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public.
OP: Public Relations- Any form of techniques employed by the school authority influencing students and promoting good will and favorably reputation among its public.
CON: Tool- is anything that helps one to do one’s job.
OP: Tool- The tools that helped the public relations to achieve their success are publicity, press agency, media relations, student handbooks, public opinion, personal communication, visit to opinion leaders and seminars.
CON: Eradicating- is a way to destroy anything completely of completely or put an end to something.
OP: Eradicating- the techniques adopted by the school authorities to stop it are expelling of students, open confession and to champ-down cultism activities in the school.
CON: Cultism- is an association of people that come together to form a religious body having common belief, mode of worship and activities are done in an isolated and private place, because their way of worship connote evil against humanity such as using human being for rituals.
OP: Cultism- they attack students in the hostiles, classrooms, bus stops, gang raping and killing of students.
CON: Tertiary- it is the third in order, rank, importance, eg the universities, polytechnics and college levels.
It is assumed that the respondents to the questionnaire are informed enough to understand the questionnaire since attempts were made to frame questions to be as simple as possible. It was also assumed in this study that single of the population will be a representative one since the institution understudy is a well known institution. The result gotten from the sample will be used to generalize the entire tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
1.9 LIMITATIONS OF STUDY
Although this study has accomplished the purpose, which it set out to achieve, one of the very limitations is that the validity of the results or findings is depending on the honesty of the respondents in providing the needed information. Due to constraints of time and money, it is difficult to carryout the research extensively. This led to the limiting of the scope. Cognizance was also taken to the fact that the academic calendar was too short and academic workload was enormous, as a result of this, no time to run around for the work.
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