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BEFORE WE BEHEAD THE ‘CULTIST’

By Joseph Atainyang

The ongoing debate on the topic of cultism is entirely interesting. Nothing could make it more exciting than the fact that Akwa Ibom is God’s own state. A state completely named after the Almighty God and wholly dedicated into His care truly deserves protection from rot. With a Governor whose trust is on ‘Only God’, everyone would best understand the distortion. The managers can only be fair by being open in their condemnation of anything capable of making it rotten. But that in its self threatens the presupposed fundamentals that put the state on the spectacle for experimentation.

Of course, the big joke is propelled by nothing else than the succession intrigues. Mr Udom Emmanuel knows that he’s the beloved of God. A man, long known as a stooge graduated to becoming so fortunate. But this was not until his mentor, then Governor Godswill Akpabio, heed to the advice of Senator Ita Solomon Enang, who by nature assumed and remains the official Prophet of Akwa Ibom people. For so were the Prophets of old. They saw the ills of society and rose to the occasion.

Accordingly, they called him the Parrot of Akwa Ibom State. They ascribed many other names unto him, for like Nathan who challenged David after he (David) ‘knew’ Uriah’s wife, Ita Enang told and still tells the state whatever happens. The recent letter addressed to the Honorable Minister of Works, Mr Babatunde Fashola on the ongoing attempt by the Akwa Ibom government to expand the Airport road, would best be seen as one of such ‘patriotic’ foresights of the soothsayer. But by that time, the Great Aristotle (Godswill Akpabio) had been a teacher, teaching his political son how to run his administration. And so came Mr Fate, which detached them from the fatal bond. Governor Emmanuel’s eyes were swift to open. This informed the public declaration of proscription of cult groups.

Although the Governor had been a beneficiary of some level of brutality swaddled in the web of impunity that emptied into the violence-filled 2015 election with about 30 people reportedly loosing their lives, he seemed to have diluted ocultic practices by that single pronouncement. Pondits still say that cultists constitute more than 95 per cent of those holding offices in government today. This way, the latest argumant against the emergence of a cultist as Governor Emmanuel’s successor in 2023 could better be a paradox.

Reports have it that Mr Emmanuel had said that he was not ready to have a cultist succeed him. This, perhaps had informed the ‘virtual admission’ by Senator Obong Bassey Albert Akpan, also known as OBA. In what The Mail Newspaper may have published as a scoup, the Senator had stated that he was a “Cultist for Christ”. Bassey Albert is currently serving his second term at the red chambers of the national assembly as a senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District. The former Finance Commissioner, during the reigns of Governor Akpabio was also a frontline contender for the post of Akwa Ibom State Governor in 2015. Of course, he was settled with the senatorial ticket, which stripped Senator Ita Enang of his second term bid to the red chambers.

But, was that the actual statement made by the Senator at that public event, where he celebrated the 2019 Christmas season with his constituents? He was rather talking about a man’s destiny which people could jealously and manipulatively threaten to terminate. The Senator only said he was being accused of being a cultist simply because of his closeness to the youths (boys). He told the gathering that he had vowed never to abandon the youths, no matter what people would say. He concluded that if people would then call him a cultist or anything else, just because of his avowed interest in (following the footsteps of his master, Godswill Akpabio of) turning boys to men, then he would be glad to become a “Cultist for Christ”.

No doubt, the senatorial zoning template of the seat of Akwa Ibom State Governor in 2015 had not favoured Bassey Albert. Perhaps, that could have only been his limitation, aside the fact that the then Governor Akpabio was ruthless in foisting Udom Emmanuel on the people. By 2023, the direction would rotate in his favour. This way, nature would not be said to have cheated him. But, could being an accused cultist do?

That avowal of being a “cultist for Christ” could be viewed in very diverse ways. To do so, one must be keen at truthfully presenting the exact denotations of cultism. But in his assertion, the Director General of the Divine Mandate Campaign Organization which saw the two elections of Governor Udom Emmanuel both in 2015 and 2019, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga has this to say, “You cannot be a cultist and want to take over a Christian dominated State”.

Question is, what does cultism mean? As an entry in the Renaissance age of 1613 and rooted in the French culte & Latin cultus which means care, adoration and to cultivate, ‘cultism’ refers to “a religion or religious sect, generally considered to be extreme or false with its followers, living in an unconventional manners, under the guidance of an authoritarian charismatic leader. It is a system or community of religious worship and rituals.

In Nigeria, the fraternity group of students in 1952 which were confined within universities’ campuses with the motive of maintaining law and order, reminds scholars of what has today degenerated into a condemnable gathering of people whose secret practices give them the hidden identity. The Nigerian Nobel Laurette, Wole Soyinka is widely acclaimed as one of the principal founders of the Pyrates Confraternity in the country.

Apparently, this common definition of cultism, succeeds in presenting it as a religion. At least, if one does not understand cultism in other fields of discourse, that of being a religion shouldn’t be difficult to comprehend. As a religion, it should entirely be seen in the context of worship. Undoubtedly, all Africans are religious people, according to studies. Without an extension to whatever may be viewed as its characteristics, what cultism portrays, should not be far from the sense of devotion and extreme commitment by its adherence.

On this note, an accused cultist with an unprecedented devotion, and diligence in obeying the demands of his object of worship, deserves to be trusted than a Christian who violates hundreds and thousands of God’s ordinances on a daily basis. Simply put, if Governor “A” calls himself a Christian but lies to his citizens everyday, and Governor “B” calls himself a Cultist but lives to the bidding of his ocultic religion, the latter is indisputably reputed for his forthrightness and natural inclination for good, reliable, dependable and purpose-driven leadership.

Again, if truly our beloved Governor Udom Emmanuel had stated that no cultist would succeed him, it is indeed a commendable resolution. That could safely depict the avowed determination of the Governor to cleans himself of all the rough edges that catapulted him to his office. Even while the roads were rough, with thousands of rights denied for his emergence, his new year resolution is rightly appreciated. Truth is, Udom Emmanuel’s second term ‘Warsaw election’ was not fought with even a percentage of ‘cultists’ exterminated.

The ‘Supreme Victory’ was won for him by the full appurtenances of the now condemned cultists. Like Chinua Achebe stated, Governor Udom Emmanuel whose palm kernel was cracked for him by benevolent spirit should never forget to be humble. The key thing is that, Akwa Ibom people can remember that the Governor is a “practical Christian”. This is why they hope that the Governor would rightly tow the Christlike character by denouncing his Supreme Victory as a way of Restitution.

Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, a Christian worshiping God with the Full Life Christian Centre (Noah’s Ark), pastored by Rev. Ntia I. Ntia deserves moral support. If not for anything, his declaration of being a “cultist for Christ” is an acknowledgement of the purpose of divinity for all humanity. This should be regarded as the first step towards spiritual restoration.

The statement is indeed an alignment with the scripture, where Peter and the rest of Jesus’ disciples resumed their new vocation as “Fishers of men”. One must be prompt to state that this alludes to the scriptural confession by Jesus Chris himself, that He must work the works of Him that sent Him. On this note, Senator Albert is blunt at stating the obvious, that he must use his position (even as a potential Governor by 2023) to ensure that the will of God comes to pass.

While others may well be prepared to cast the first stone, or may be ready with sharp knife to behead perceived cultists, they must be reminded that right before, beside, behind and around them are known members of the brotherhood and sisterhood. They must be reminded that these brethren cannot disappear just by the execution of a common enemy. One can’t be guilty of a crime and then pull the trigger to eliminate his ‘accused accomplice’. It is hypocritical for people to have their hands soiled in blood, yet they label others as being murderers.

Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator. Gsm: 07036964637

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