By Emeka Nwokocha

The Chairman of Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, Hon. Taiye Duke Tuoyo has called on Deltans to build trust in God and seek His wisdom in every aspect of their endeavours, noting that no meaningful achievement would be made by those saddled with political leadership without the directives of God. 

Hon. Tuoyo gave the counsel, Tuesday 17, in Warri, while delivering a speech at a stakeholders dialogue on Community Peace Project Against Cultism and Criminality in Delta South Senatorial Districts, organized  by Partners for Peace in the Niger Delta (P4P), Delta State chapter.

Expressing dismay at the rising societal decadence worsened by untamed incidence of youth propelled cult activities over time, the Warri South-West boss tasked all stakeholders of peace on stamping out cultism and criminal activities in the society.

Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, Executive Director, VREI (standing), delivering an address; and Mr. Fischer Ogugu, Coordinator, Delta State P4P Network

He said, “at this trying times, the families, elders, community leaders, opinion leaders, and other members of the society should retrace their steps, believe and trust in God in everything they do, in order to contribute meaningfully to the development of the society.” 

Continuing, Hon. Tuoyo, identified self-discipline as a virtue that stands out in the society, even as he charged all to contribute their quota to make a better society devoid of cultism and acts of criminality. He commended the members of P4P in Niger Delta, Delta State chapter for the initiative while calling on right thinking individuals, corporate organisations, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders to join hands with the peace advocators to achieve sustainable peace in the state.

Speaking earlier, Programme Coordinator at P4P in Niger Delta, Delta State Chapter, Amb. Prince Ebilade, described the menace of cultism and criminality as twin evil detrimental to societal growth, saying that concerted efforts was needed to contain the ugly trend, stressing reorientation of the youths as key in nipping cultism in the bud, in the quest for a better society.

Continuing, Ebilade warned that cultism and criminality portend grave consequence to the society if drastic action was not taken to reverse the evil trend.

His words, “this occasion is aimed to eradicate cultism among the youths in primary and secondary schools, including tertiary institutions. This is the time to bring all stakeholders on board to rid our society of cultism and restore sanity to engender unfettered socioeconomic development.”

Continuing, Ebilade said that the dialogue session was in line with the cardinal objectives of the P4P network with regard to promoting sustainable peace in the Niger Delta, even as he mentioned other goals of P4P in the Niger Delta to include addressing the root causes of conflict and build peace; to facilitate conflict analysis and early warning; and to support and enable socioeconomic development programmes to improve the standard of living in Niger Delta.

Mr. Collins Newuwumi (2nd left), and other inaugurated P4P in Niger Delta Focal Persons in L.G.As in Delta South Senatorial Districts

He said, “the Dialogue on Community Peace Project Against Cultism and Criminality in Delta South Senatorial Districts is aimed to change the hurting narratives of cultism and criminality ravaging our communities and towns, in order to restore sanity, law and order, and engender a conducive environment for unhindered business and social activities. It is also designed to reorientate the mindsets of the youths, and channel their strength, energy and intelligence to productive ventures beneficial to society.” He added, “we shall not fold our arms while the young generation embrace criminality as a way of life,” saying, “evil will only thrive when the good people remain calm.” 

Ebilade called on the  stakeholders, police, DSS, NSCDC (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps), parents, teachers, religious leaders and others to join hands to rid the society of the monster (cultism).

In her speech, Barr. Faith Onyonyewoma, National Orientation Agency (NOA) officer at Isoko North Local Government Council, commended the organisers of the programme, noting that cultism has assumed a worrisome proportion with the society having a fair share of its devastating effect over time. She said NOA would gladly partner with P4P in all spheres of its programmes to end cultism and redirect the attention of the youths to productive ventures and promoting societal harmony.

In his presentation on Leadership, Communication and Cultism, the Executive Director of Value Rebirth and Empowerment Initiative (VREI), Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, emphasized importance of leadership in the growth of any nation, noting that the plethora of problems bedevilling the Nigeria state could be traced to poor leadership. He tasked Nigerian political leaders on patriotism and good governance to put Nigeria on the path of growth.

Pst. Egedegbe expressed worry that cultism has infiltrated the primary schools, describing the development as a dangerous phenomenon. He defined cultism as the activities and practices of a group of people with common spiritual, religious or philosophical belief, tracing its origin to the tertiary institutions in Nigeria. 

Cross Section of participants at the event

Continuing, Egedegbe noted some of the reasons people join cultism to include the desire for power and sense of belonging; pressure from friends who are members of cult groups; some form of security; societal decadence; parental failure; falling standard of education among others. He identified some of the effects of cultism as loss of innocent lives, serial killing, sexual assaults, premature death of members of cult groups due to inter-cult crises, and bereaved parents.

Egedegbe however, took a swipe on the society for watering the ground for cultism to fester, saying, “society has contributed prominently to the mess we have plunged ourselves into.”He added, “some of the cultists are children and wards of high profile persons in the society, even the law enforcement agencies seem not to have the capacity to halt the spread of the monster in the society.”

He admonished the youths to turn a new leaf and shun cultism in order not to cut short their lives.

“The consequences of cult activities are very huge and oftentimes result in death or many years of incarceration on a lighter note. Therefore, I charge the youths to heed my advice, desist from cult related activities, and make good use of their time and intelligence to earn themselves a place as better and honourable citizens in the future,” he stated.

In her presentation on peace building, volunteerism and conflict resolution styles, Jennifer Okotie, emphasized importance of voluntary services in building a progressive and peaceful society. She noted the negative impacts of conflicts on the overall development of humanity, stating that conflict is inevitable in human existence, but could be mitigated or managed through application of conflict resolution initiatives such as tolerance, accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, and compromising.

In the same vein, participants at the programme made salient contributions to the subjects of discourse. 

Mr. Ogbewi Stephen of NSCDC, described the programme as a welcome development, saying that its sustainance would go a long way to addressing most of the societal ills bedevelling the society. He assured of NSCDC’s cooperation in curbiing criminality and cultism in the society.

Subsequently, recommendations on how to eradicate cultism were  proffered by the participants and they include the following: introduction of peace day in schools; good parenting and thorough monitoring of children by parents; introduction of peace clubs in schools; preaching against cultism by religious leaders; moral and career counseling of the students by highly placed personalities/professionals in the society; imparting good morals and descent values to children by parents and teachers; proscribing cultism and all manner of social vices in communities, and holding sensitisation campaigns against cultism in communities and schools.

The highpoint of the event was the inauguration of the focal persons for the sub-chapters of P4P Network in Warri-South, Warri South-West, Warri-North, Bomadi, Burutu, Patani, Isoko-South and Isoko-North Local Government Areas. 

Those inaugurated include Asekutu Innocent, Collins Newuwumi, Ojiko Hannah,  Stephen Otuedo, Christiana Otutufegha, Wurus Gbaboyo, and Ogbemi Yomere

The event drew participants from various communities, youth leaders, NGOs, CSOs, NSCDC, Local Governments, NOA, and the media.


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