BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Public 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.
Public Relations are the planned and sustained effort to established a mutual understanding between an organization and its publics. According to British Public Relations as an art and social science analysis trend, predicting their consequence, counseling organization, leader and implement planned programme of action which will serve for both the organization and its public interest, the world assemble in Mexico City in August(1987).Public relations is the strategic management of relationship between an organizations and its diverse publics, through the use of communication to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals, and serve the public interest(Flyn, Gregory & Valin 2008).
The term cult is a Latin word which refers to worship, religion and faith. A cult is a group of people who are adherents of a certain type of worship. In the contemporary context, it generally refers to a fraternal relationship between a group of people who are out to achieve set objectives for members, even through these objectives go against the interest and norms of the larger society(Ikudayisi,1998).Onyechere(1988) defines these cults as a group of people who share and propagate peculiar beliefs only to members.
Cultism is dated back to 1952, when Wole Soyinka winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature- and a group of friends at the University of Ibadan formed the Pyrites ‘Confraternity with the motto ‘’Against all Conventions’’. The skull and cross bones were their insignia, cultivating a bohemian style that ridiculed the colonial attitudes mode of dress of the day. This caught on among students and over the next two decades, the fraternity, a non –violent body, became established in all the tertiary institutions that emerged in post- independence Nigeria.
In the mid- 1980s, reports had it that some of the cults have been co-opted by elements in the intelligence and security services serving the military government such that they were used as foils to the left- wing student unions which, along with university teachers, were among the only remaining bastions of opposition to military rule.
Cultism includes the activities of secret cults or societies that are very rampant in our institutions of learning today. This has not only created an atmosphere of insecurity in our campuses, it is also diverting attention from the primary purpose of the universities which is education.
Taiwo(2004) declared that’ ’What we are all witnessing today in the education sector is a sad reflection of corruption in the society and the low priority placed on standardization and improvement of the intellectual custodians of our time by those in governance’’. This is against the fact that most members of these cults are from rich homes and are never serious with their studies; thus prompting their venturing into examination malpractices.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The basic conditions for sustained academic culture have been eroded in tertiary institution. And it has been a negative impact in tertiary institution which little attention has been given to the consequence. Sometimes students are attacked, killing with acids, charms, machetes, Knives, guns, daylight and gang rapping, loss of life, property and harassing of female students. Obada –Obieh(2002).
There is no peace in campus, series of examination malpractice, killing of lecturers. Public Relations as problem- solving communication are expected to create strategies to enlighten the students and make them aware of what is needed of in an academic community .In order to tackle this problem successfully both the students and general public and the government should take the challenges upon themselves.
1.3 Rationale Of The Study
The Research of the study is carried out due to the high rate of moral decadence among student in tertiary institution. It focuses on the relevance measures in which public relations and any external body could adopt to solve social phenomenon in tertiary institution in Nigeria.
The study tries to portrayed the relationship and effect between the students and the cultism in Nigeria institution.
1.4 Objectives Of The Study
The aims of this study include the following;
1. To examine the different causes of cultism in tertiary institution
2.To examine the role of Public Relations as strategies tool to reach the audience
3.To study the various challenges the cultists group have caused on the school activities.
Media relation has a significant effect in the fight against cultism in
Nigeria Tertiary Institution.
1.6 Research Questions
1.Why do students get involve in cultism in tertiary institution?
2. What roles does the Public Relations play to combat cultism in Nigeria tertiary institution?
3. What are the problems the cultists group caused on campus?
4. What are the tools put in place to mobilize and encourage students on cultism in the institution?
1.7 Significance Of Study
This research is chosen because it will enlighten the student about the risk of joining a cult or being a member of a cult, and help to excavate the evolution and the remote cause of cultism on campuses and proffer and enduring solution to it.
1.8 Scope Of The Study
The study focuses on public relations strategies and the fight against cultism in Nigeria tertiary institutions.
1.9 Definition Of Terms
Publics; Communication of people at large whether or not organized as group that have a direct or indirect association.
Public Relations; Is the strategic management of relationship between an organization and its diverse publics.
Strategies; A plan that is intended to achieve a particular purpose.
Cultism; This is an association of people that comes together to form a religious body having common belief, mode of worship and activities are done in an isolated and private place.
Institution; Is a social structure in which people co- operate and influences the behavior of people and way they live.
Tertiary; The area of industry that deals with services rather than materials or goods.
The focus of this chapter is to review existing literature relevant to the subject matter of this study. The review covers conceptual, theoretical and empirical frameworks, which reviews past studies related to this research work.
2.1 Conceptual Framework
2.1.1 Emergence of Public Relations
Public Relations is not new, what is new is the modern method of it. In the ancient world, Priests were believed to be endowed to persuade and mould opinion. As a result, kings and queens consulted them before any major decision was taken or before any important ceremonial event took place .Public Relations projects were undertaken in ancient Egypt. In Greece, the ruling class staged special event such as the Olympic Games to attract attention and to develop national spirit and sense of unity. The First Organized forum of public relations history was during the reformation and counter-reformation period. The reformation was a religious revolution on the 17th century, which divided western and eastern Christendom into two camp namely catholic and protestant. The movement stressed the right of individual conscience. The reformation attacked the absolute ecclesiastical authority of the catholic church and so separated itself from mainstream. IfedayoDaramola (2003;252).
Lvy Ledbetter, lee can be considered as the father of modern Public Relations. His activities in the united states of American dated back to 1906.Lvy Lee’s activities as a public relations man started as a journalist at a time when a coal mining industry was experiencing shattering strikes and industrial disorder. Lee offered to restore peace in the industry to the striking coal miners on the contribution that he was allowed to communicate all facts as and when necessary to the public. Lvy lee was later to issue his famous’’ Declaration of principles which he gave to all editors. Lloyd (1980;3).
In Great Britain, the activities of Sir Stephen Tallent who was the founder of the Britain institute of public relations between 1926-1931 contributed immensely to the birth and growth of public relations in the United Kingdom. Colonial government employed public relations practice to persuade people to go into war. Public Relations started as an information office which was an arm of British government. The purpose of information office was to make people go into war. D.C Fletcher was the head of information office. Oriola (2009). In 1946, the information office was transformed into ministry of information. An army of the ministry of information was public relations department that carry out public relations functions.
2.1.2 Concept Of Public Relations
Public Relations Society of America ( PRSA)(1982) Persist that Public Relations help our complex, Pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony. Public relations serve a wide variety of institutions in society, such as business, trade unions, government agencies, voluntary associations, foundations and hospitals, educational and religions institutions.
Taye (2002), quoting News and Carel (2001) says that the first world assemble of public relations association regards public relations as the art and science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organization leaders and implementing planned programmes of action which will serve both the organization’s and the publics interest.
Tejuoso (2003) see public relations as a management function of a continuing and planned character through which public and private organization and institution seeks to win and retain the understanding, Sympathy and support of those with whom they are. Johnstone and Zawawi (2004;6) define public relations as the’ ’ethical and strategic management of communication and relationships in order to build and develop coalitions and policy, identify and manage issues and create and direct messages to achieve sound outcomes within a socially responsible framework.
Meanwhile, Lvy Lee and Edward Louis Bernays (1990) describe public relations as a management function which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interest of organization by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. Basically Public Relation is an act that can be seen to involved artistic skills, language, writing, and public speaking. It is a social science using social scientific instrument to understand and predict human behavior Nwosu (1968).
2.1.3 Public Relations Strategies
Generally, the public relations strategies for tertiary institution should be fashioned out of the corporate objectives of such institution from where public relations derive its objectives.
Press release; It serves as the data bank of institutions. It informs the external publics of the institutions about events that is about to take place or have taken place, through press to the media.
Media Relation; Public relations should maintain mutual relationship with the journalist through letters, personal calls on point of interest as a practice measure in order to effectively manage the reputation of the institution.
Interviews; It is veritable tools of getting the support and understanding of the student for their popular and unpopular policies and decision.
Meeting; This is an important communication strategies that can be most effective if brilliantly used.
Sponsorship; By providing entertaining radio and television programmes to the publicity.
2.1.4 Public Relations Campaign Planning
Franks Jerfkins (1998) outline four point for public relations activities in the following order; Appreciation of situation; Although public relation activities are meant to place organization in good state before its public in order for the organization to be able to achieve its corporation aims.
1.Appreciation situation involves tactical monitoring of trends within and around the campuses of the institution making use of formal and informal research techniques relevant to public relations practice.
2.Defining The Objective; Specific public relations campaign objective for higher institutions are;
1. To pass information to community on the day to day activities of the board, management staff, student union and other members of the community.
2. To fight against cultism in tertiary institution.
3. To correct misconception of management activities by staff, students and other members of the community.
4.Defining The Publics; Public relations programme are designed for different publics to the institution, for effectiveness of specific campaigns a clear understanding of the’’ Specific public’’ being targeted is essential for the success of campaign. Therefore, for every programme, a list of target public should be made.
5.Selection Of Media And Techniques; Public relations media serve as the instrument of communication used by an organization to disseminate information to the different publics and also provide feedback needed for further actions on the part of management, before selecting media, public relations must have deep knowledge of the characteristic of both the publics and media.
2.1.5 Public Relations For Tertiary Institutions
Currently, public relations practice in higher institution has been faced with enormous challenges. The focus of public relation has been directed lately towards getting the institution out of the woods and consequently repositions them to brazen up for the task of extinguishing the extraneous factors that have rotten the system. Adefolakan (2001).The presence of cultism in our citadel of learning has done a lot of havoc to the nation’s educational systems just as it has negative impact on the socio-economic and political systems. The current state of higher institutions and higher education in Nigeria is the combined responsibility of the governments of these institution, parent, lecturers, and the larger society Mojaye (2005). Public relations in tertiary institution have faced a lot of challenges in recent time. It is now evident that tertiary institutions in Nigeria are seeing the need of employ public relation services and strategies to tackle their image deficiencies but it is also true that most manager of these institution often rebuff practitioner’s counsel in favor of the use of contemporary public relations approaches for solving most of the problems that plague the sector Nwosu (2002).
2.1.6 Public Relations As A Management Function In Tertiary Institutions
The dynamic nature of education and educational institution has made it somehow to have stereo-type public relations for educational institutions especially in Nigeria .Nkwocha (2004). However the following would serve as the basic for articulating function of public relations in tertiary institutions.
1.To serve as communication link between the institution and its internal and external publics.
2.To embark on all activities and programs that would greatly reduce student’s agitation and crisis
3.To secure the understanding and support of major donors and philanthropist for the institution.
4.To secure the confidence and support of government.
5.To undertake community relations activities that will create lasting friendship between the institution and the host communities.
6. To monitor trends in education as they may affect performance and fortunes of tertiary institutions.
2.1.7 Role Of Public Relations Officer In Higher Institutions
Operators and managers of higher institutions have since realized the importance of public relations in the day to day running of the institutions. They have come to realized that the institutions cannot survive without the support of its crucial publics(internal and external), and in order for them to function properly there is need to align their policies, goals and objectives with the interest of larger society .Nkwocha (2004).
Jubril (1997;22) opines that, public relations reduces industrial crises and student unrest, help raise the quality of learning, and the acceptance of certificates, safeguards the tenure of chief academic officers, enhances the employment of graduates, raises the profile of graduate and attract funding for the institutions. From the foregoing, it has become apparent that public relations in institutions strive to achieve what Jefkins (1988;9) calls the “transfer process” This entails transforming public perception from negative dimension to the positive. Specifically, public relation is considered as capable of converting public ignorance to knowledge and awareness; apathy to interest and support, prejudice to sympathy and lastly, hostility to understanding and acceptance.
Fayoyin (1992), underlie the national and philosophical basic of public relations which is primarily concerned with achieving understanding through knowledge.
2.1.8 Public Relations And Crisis Management In Tertiary Institutions
A crisis is an extreme situation of conflict, which has reached a turning point, Where critical decisions have to be taken or else the conflict escalates to a point of extreme violence. Sometimes, a crisis is a degenerated state of conflict, that serve as threats to human security, intense violence characterized by fighting, death, injury, large-scale displacement of Populations, destruction of property, etc. Nwosu (2005).
Once a crisis occurs, it is the responsibility of the government of a state or any other authority to de-escalate the situation and bring a cessation to violence. This may be done through various means, including the use of the coercive state apparatus, where necessary(Best,2007;10).
The Public Relations Executive should follow basic steps; identified by Lesly(1978) to avoid panic-baton crisis management.
Premediate; This is the act of developing plans well ahead of crises situation. The plan must be well understood, revised and updated.
Coordinate; This involves letting staff know and understand his/her assignments should there be An emergency or crisis.
Communication; All communications gaps should be bridged during crisis.
Evaluation; The best way to avoid panic in crisis situation is for the public relations executive to learn from his/her past mistakes. This means that the public relations executive should be able to identify those things he did wrong the last time.
2.1.9 Evolution Of Cultism In Tertiary Institutions.
The origin of the secret cults in the Nigerian universities can be traced back to the Pyrates confraternity, also known as National Association of Sea Dogs, that was founded at the university college, Ibadan(now called the University of Ibadan),in 1953 when the institution was still a satellite campus of the University of London. It has the skull and crossbones as its logo.
Professor Soyinka also explained that confraternities are not cults(Dixon 1994). According to him, Confraternity was part of the social life of the institution. Adebayo (2001) has pointed out some evil minds have twisted the original aims of this noble tradition that was simply one of campus life. According to Adelola (1997), the first notable departure came in 1968 with the formation of the Eiye Confraternity at the University of Ibadan. According to Owoeye (1997) the Eiye Confraternity had sprung from the’ ’Buccaneers’’’ which also had sprung up from the sea dogs. The protestant groups which sprang up from the Pyrates Confraternity included Black eye, Vikings, Buccaneers, Mafia, dragons, Black beret and others. The female cults include, Temple of Eden, Frigrates, Barracudas, Daughters of Jezebel and others. Today in Nigeria, there is hardly any tertiary institution which has not suffered the adverse effects of the activities of secret cults which have been characterized by violence.
2.1.10 Causes Of Cultism In Nigerian Tertiary Institutions
There are various causes of cultism on campuses some of which are examined as follows, as identified by Eberendu (1999).
1.Influence of peer Group; There is no doubt that peer group influence is a potent factor that compels young undergraduates to join secret cults. Ibeh (2005) posited that, the period of adolescence is marked by intense social relationship in any environment he/she finds himself. Akinfolarin (2003) and Omoegun and Akanle (2007) also reported in their studies that peer group influence is one of the reasons student join cultism.
2.Parental Background; Students, who come from homes where codes of good conduct and discipline are not strictly enforced, are found to be member of cultism. Olajuigbe (2001) reported that parental background, lack of moral instruction at home and the manner in which the child is brought could be a factor in enrolment as a member of a cult. According to Mgbekem (2004), some parents love their children to the extent of pampering them. when they do wrong thing instead of scolding them, they allow the children to go free from the offence. Ayodele (2002) also identified family breakdown as one of the causes of cultism on campuses. According to him, a child who comes from broken home is exposed to parental negligence and frustration, such child is easily induced into cultism.
3.Societal Decadence; Ogunbameru (1997) lamented that the Nigerian society has willingly or Unwillingly provided an enabling environment for all forms of crimes among which is the problem of campus secret cult. Mgbekem (2005) also lamented that youths nowadays imbibed in immoral values instead of inculcating moral and decent values.
4.Erosion of Education Standards ;The economic downturn in the 1980s and early 1990s in the country encouraged corruption and erosion of standards in the educational system. Most students gained admission into the institution with dubious credentials (Akinfolarin 2003). Such students, because of their low self-image find solace in cultism in order to survive the academic rigors at all cost.
5.Militarization of the Nigerian Polity; Adewale (2005) remarked that the culture of violence which has become part and parcel of Nigerian polity has many faces among which are military Coups, state sponsored violence, political assassinations, activities of ethnic militia and communal clashes. Ibukun (1999) also highlighted militarization of the Nigerian polity for decades as a factor for cultism in Nigerian Tertiary institutions. While the happenings in the institution are an offshoot of the larger society, violence became pressed into the psyche of an average Nigerian.
Other reasons for cultism in tertiary institutions include lack of recreational facilities, decay in social life and increasing materialism of the society (Omoegun and Akanle 2007).
2.2.11 Effects Of Cultism In Nigerian Tertiary Institutions
The attendant effect of cultism on the learning process cannot be exhausted as both intra and inter- cult clashes negatively affect the students in a very high proportion. It sometimes leads to incarceration, rustication or expulsion of both innocent and student members (Opaluwah 2009).
A lot of lives and properties have been destroyed through cult violence (Mgbekem 2004).Young undergraduates who are supposed to be leaders in future have fallen victims of trigger happy cultists (Jamiu 2008).Our youth population is being gradually decimated due to cult activities. The peace on campus is adversely affected whenever there is cult invasion, this may result in suspension of academic activities for some time.
Due to the activities of the cultists and their sponsors who supply them with sophisticated weapons to prosecute communal clashes or to gain upper hand in power struggles ,there are illegal weapons in all nooks and crannies of the tertiary institutions. The cultists who are in possession of such illegal weapons sometimes used them for perpetration of crimes. Mgbekem (2005).Those who eventually enlist in secret cult group might have been compelled to do so because of “Sagging egos’’ that need to be boosted. Others join in order to have a sense of belonging and the need to be “well connected’’(Eneji 1996).Still others may join because of the need for financial assistance, to secure girl friends or for self protection (Ogunbameru 1997).
2.3 Theoretical Framework
2.3.1 Persuasion Theory
Public relations people try to persuade audiences to learn new information, to change emotions, and act in certain ways. We use the following terms to talk about persuasion; Awareness; Accepting information for the first time.
According to Folarin (1998), the theory holds that for a persuasive message to be considered effective, it must succeed in altering the psychological function of the recipients(students) in such a way that he/she will respond in tune with the behavior desired by the communication.
Aina (2002) further said the theory appreciates new learning awareness through provision of information in order to manipulate the internal psychological structure of individuals which can result in behavioral change as the best ways to effective persuasion communication. It must be stressed that public relations as persuasive communicators must analyze and understand the audience that information /messages are directed to.
2.3.2 The Social Judgment Theory
Social judgment is proposed by Carolyn Sherif, Muzar and Carl Hovand (1965) as the perception and evaluation of an idea by comparing with current attitudes. It is a study that studies human judgment. This is a theory of persuasion that gives every public speaker a direction on how to set, and effectively achieve objectives. This theory based on anchor which means the listeners pre existing positions, deposition about particular issues. There are three Zones within the response to persuasive messages. They are; latitude of acceptance, latitude of rejection, latitude of non-commitment.
Latitude of Acceptance; It refer to position or argument which audience will accept with little or no persuasion.
Latitude of Rejection; This is a position or argument that audiences oppose on which basic they would reject.
Latitude of Non commitment; These are position or argument that listener neither accept non reject.
2.4 Empirical Framework
A research carried out by Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) November 6,1982. Public Relations help our complex, pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony. Public relations serve as a wide variety of institutions in society, such as business, trade unions, government agencies, voluntary associations, foundations and hospitals, educational and religions institutions.
To achieve their goals, these institutions must develop effective relationships with many different audience or publics such as employees, members, customers, local communities, shareholders and other institutions and with society at large.
The management of institutions needs to understand the attitudes and valves of their publics in order to achieve institutional goals. The goals themselves are shaped by the external environment. The public relations practitioner acts as a counselor to management and as a mediator, helping to translate private aims into reasonable, publicly acceptable policy and action.
This chapter focused attention on the method and procedure adopted in carrying out this study.
3.1 Research Design
The research design for this study is descriptive design type. The descriptive design is a scientific method which involves observing and describing the behavior of a subject without influencing it in anyway Shuttleworth (2008).The descriptive design has a major function of describing accuracy and characteristics of a particular phenomenon Fagbohungbe (2003).
3.2 Sample And Sampling Techniques
The study adopted purposive sampling techniques to select student who fall within the age range of 18-25,26-30,30 and above.
3.3 Population of the study
The desired target population for this study consisted of all students in polytechnic and university.
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