By Francis Ekpone & Gabriel Chy Alonta
No fewer than 100 students have been awarded scholarships in Awka community and the suburb by the Awka Development Union Nigeria (ADUN), to mark the second edition of “@Awka Students Achievers Day”, instituted by the group.
The awardees, who were the Awka indigents and non-indegents, were drawn from various secondary schools across the state capital, Orient Education reports.
Speaking during the event at St. John of God Secondary School in Awka, the President-General, Awka Development Union Nigeria, Sir Dr. Amobi Nwokafor, said that the occasion was aimed at reducing the cases of drop outs, cultism and drug abuse, noting that such gesture would help to refocus the students.
The President-General, who said the union uses the opportunity to re-awaken the consciousness of students to the reality of being leaders of tomorrow, stressed that “if the students failed, we have failed as a town. So, we want them to follow good footsteps and do greater exploits”.
Nwokafor disclosed that 50 students were awarded scholarships at the maiden edition of the programme in 2018; adding that 50 more were given the schorlarship in the 2019 edition to bring the number to 100 beneficiaries.
“I pray this programme will be sustained when another set of leaders take the baton. It is critical and highly acceptable initiative that involves both short term and long term plans to educate and evolve the minds of the students.
“The students are urged to reciprocate this gesture by being committed to their studies and to take advantage of the opportunity. Awka will be a changed town in the nearest future”, he enthused.
Delivering a lecture titled, “drug use and abuse,” a pharmacist and toxicologist at Madona University, Prof. Zelingo Igweze, regretted that drug abuse has infiltrated into every fabric of the educational system.
Igweze encouraged teachers to assist students, who may be victims of drug abuse in the school, while observing that there were high cases of drug abuse in public schools than in private schools due to stringent measures adopted in private schools.
Igweze, who is also the Head of Department, Pharmacy and Toxicology, said that parents should give attention and be closer to their children in order to know when they start abusing substances or drugs, remarking that parents should counsel their wards.
On who should take blame for lack of control of drugs, she said, “Nigeria is a peculiar and lawless society, so, the system should be blamed. Why should the drugs be made available without control?”
While warning students that drug abuse destroys the body system -the kidney, liver and brain, she called on the government, media and civil society organisations to increase awareness programme to curb drug abuse.
She said that being a drug addict would make the student less intelligent as well as affect their physiological and psychological wellbeing.
On his part, Prof. Clifford Nwanna, who spoke on cultism, reminded his young audience that cultism would ruin their future, while advising them to shun any act that would affect their academics.
Nwanna enjoined the students to engage themselves meaningfully, and to eschew idleness, which he said, could lead them to membership of secret groups, even as he added that parents should always monitor their children.
He encouraged institutions, especially tertiary institutions, to rusticate any student found belonging to any cult group, as well as give incentives to those who fight cultism.
In another lecture tagged, “Counselling and Temperament”, a representative of the World Health Organisation and Carter Foundation, Mrs. Blessing Nneka Ayiba, noted that students should be left on their own to identify and develop, remarking that students were being ill-advised.
Ayiba, an environmentalist, encouraged the students to follow their conscience and not to allow themselves to be influenced by peer pressures.
Earlier, the principal, St. John of God Secondary School, Awka, Lady Anthonia Nwanekie, commended the organisers for their investment in education, while urging them not to rest on their oars in enlightening the society on the dangers of drug abuse. She told the students to make optimal use of the opportunity provided to them.