The ills of cultism in Akwa Ibom secondary schools have become the focus of public discourse in the state, hours after the state government indefinitely shut a technical college in Uyo because of violent students’ protest.
The school, Government Technical College, Ewet, is notorious for violence clashes either among the students or against another secondary school nearby.
Cultism is believed to be the remote cause of the violence which, the police said, has left a divisional police officer hospitalised after he was attacked by students.
Two teachers in the school have sustained serious injuries, while 11 students have been arrested so far, according to the police.
The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, during plenary on Thursday, condemned the rise of cultism across secondary schools in the state.
The debate on cultism in secondary schools was prompted by a motion from the member representing Ibiono Ibom State Constituency, Godwin Ekpo.
A statement from the media office of the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, said the state assembly is worried that teenagers in secondary schools now carrying axes, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons instead of focusing on their studies.
A lawmaker representing Esit Eket/ Ibeno State Constituency, Usoro Akpanusoh, said on the floor of the House that “the way cultism is going” in Akwa Ibom secondary schools is how the terrorist group, Boko Haram, started.
“If we do not act now, we may be swallowed,” Mr Akpanusoh said.
“To solve the problem of cultism in our schools, we have to go beyond the scope of addressing the problem in our secondary schools. We have to propose a motion that every known cultist should be prohibited from holding public office because these children see them prosper and are encouraged to join so as to prosper too,” said the member representing Nsit Atai State Constituency, Mark Esset, in his contribution to the debate.
Another lawmaker, Aniekan Uko, said the problem of cultism in secondary schools is more complex because parents, according to him, were buying guns for their children, and the teachers and police officers are cultists too.
“We can’t sit down here to blame the students alone. We should start from the home because parental guide is the key.
“We have to be honest with ourselves; are we doing well as a government to discourage cultism? These children do they have what to keep them engaged in school? Some of the teachers are known cultists. What do you expect from the students?
“Some of the policemen called to address the issue are still cultists. Some parents when these children are growing, you buy gun and give them. What do you expect them to become? It is time teachers should be interrogated and investigated if they are cultists during recruitment, before they are employed,” said Mr Uko who represents Ibesikpo-Asutan State Constituency.
The Speaker, Mr Bassey, after listening to lawmakers’ contributions on the matter, directed the joint committees on education, security to meet with the state Ministry of Education, the state Technical School Board and the State Secondary Education Board, and submit a report to the House within a month.
Meanwhile, the state government has said it would not hesitate to close down more secondary schools in the state to check indiscipline and hooliganism among students.
The Commissioner for Education, Nse Essien, stated this on Thursday while addressing the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting of Uyo High School, Uyo.
Apart from the Government Technical College, Uyo High School is another secondary school notorious for violence within the Uyo metropolis.
Vehicular traffic was disrupted for more than an hour along a major road in Uyo on Valentine’s Day when violence broke out in Uyo High School.
“You all have the duty to advise your child,” Mr Essien said at the Uyo High School PTA meeting.
“If you can’t bring up children who have good character, it means you came to earth to waste your time. All these things start at home. The government is doing so much for the children and we expect them to reciprocate by behaving well and taking their studies seriously.”