Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Moral decadence and all forms of anti-social behaviour have become synonymous with the present day youth such that vices like cultism, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, abortion, banditry, examination misconduct, truancy, improper dress code, prostitution as well as a great many others have become the stock-in-trade for some youngsters in the present day society. But in spite of the ugly trend, governments, security agencies, town unions, non-governmental institutions, corporate organisations, individuals and a host of others, are making frantic efforts to stem the tide of criminality resulting from anti-social tendencies.
It is for this reason that the Awka Development Union Nigeria led by the President-General, Chief Sir Amobi Nwaokafor, decided to disabuse the minds of youths in Awka town as well as dissuade them from activities inimical and detrimental to their dreams and aspirations. This promoted the town union to galvanise youngsters from all the secondary schools in Awka, Amawbia, Nibo and other neighbouring towns to a symposium at St. John of God Awka where the youths were treated to mind-blowing lectures on cultism, drug abuse and career choices. The youth programme was equally an opportunity for some indigent but intelligent students and some others to obtain scholarships to further their education while some students too were rewarded with various prices for outstanding performances. Be that as it may, Awka Development Union Nigeria has indeed taken the bull by the horn to ensure proper mentorship and role-modelling for youths whom the organization believes would take over the mantle of leadership in no distant future. This according to Chief Amobi Nwaokafor is the overall objective of catching the youths now that they are virile, vibrant and in good stead for expeditions.
At the 2019 edition of ADU education empowerment programme held at St. John of God Awka, youths were exposed to the aftermaths of cultism, drug and substance abuse as well as develop the right attitudes towards determining career choices in the near future. One of the guest speakers who spoke on Substance Abuse, Mrs. Zelinjor Igwueze, a Pharmacist and Toxicologist, told the students who listened with avid attentiveness that some of the drugs usually abused include alcohol, cocaine, codeine, tramadol, panadol, to mention a few. She said that drug abuse has its attendant grave consequences such as stroke, hepatitis, poor appetites, improper behavior, solitudes, stigmatization, paralysis and eventual death. The guest speaker maintained that drug addiction is a special kind of hell because it takes over the soul of the addict and subjects the individual to eternal servitude until death. She therefore made a pictorial reference to a famous ragae icon popularly called Majek Fashek de Rain Maker who took to drug addiction and died not too long ago. She was equally of the opinion that people who abuse drugs are usually very dirty and unkept and they normally have blood-shot eyes. She admonished the students not to be friends with children who disobey their parents as they would constitute bad influence on them. She also advocated for constant communication between parents and children to direct and regulate their actions to avoid undue peer group influence while stressing the need for teachers not to stigmatise children with deviant behaviour as it could worsen their state of mental health.
According to her, drug abuse issues have become an epidemic at all levels of the society and that public schools were more susceptible to the epidemic than private schools. She therefore stressed the need for guidance and counseling to be strengthened in all secondary schools while insisting that the society should evolve to the point where drug problems should be a public concern. She said Nigeria is a peculiar country as it concerns drug abuse because people bought drugs indiscriminately and practised self-medication. The medical expert observed that there seemed to be too much quest for money such that parents no longer spent quality time with their children. She also pointed out that most parents indulge in smoking weed, cigarettes and other hard substances and children, according to her, learn from what they see rather than what they were being told. She therefore stressed the dire need for close observation of the child especially when the child is 6 years and above to enable the parents to commence guidance and counseling early enough to stimulate children against bad companies capable of luring them into smoking habits and other dangerous vices.
The youth empowerment programme also provided a veritable platform for the students to take home words of admonitions from the lecture that was delivered by an environmentalist in the person of Ayiba Nneka who stressed the importance of being in the right temperament to determine career choices. Ayiba said it was pertinent to allow children discover their innate potentials when choosing careers for themselves. She said children should be allowed the liberty to determine their respective careers devoid of parental and societal pressure. She said every child has an identity and should be allowed the freedom to discover and nurture his true identity. For the President-General Awka Union USA/Canada, Mr. Henry Okwuchukwu Onwubiko, the programme was timely because building up the youths is a very commendable task. He said Awka Union USA and Canada was equally concerned with youth development and it is in close collaboration with the parent body led by Chief Sir Amobi Nwaokafor to rid youths in Awka town of terminal vices but place them on the road to stardom through mentorship and role-modelling.
Chief Nwaokafor said that the youth education empowerment scheme was the brainchild of his administration. He said there were lots of issues in Awka town especially where youths were dropping out from school; invloving themselves in cult activities and drug abuse. Nwaokafor maintained that given the aforementioned scenario, the town union took a decision to correct the anomaly from the primary school level down to the tertiary level. This, however, led to the various education programmes championed by Awka Development Union Nigeria to redirect the minds of youths to more noble causes. He said the education empowerment programme started last year and about 50 persons were given scholarships on various grounds. He said the scholarships have been increased to 100 students for the 2019 edition due to kind support the town union received from the people of Awka. According to him, it is equally intended that upon the exit of his administration, the body known as Preservers of Awka Heritage Foundation would take over the education empowerment scheme because they consider it very pivotal and fundamental in the developmental plan for Awka town. The President-General of Awka Development Union Nigeria also disclosed that a committee has been set up to forestall all security breaches including cult activities in the area even as he said that the town union has other programmes of development which includes Every Youth A Skill , a youth development project that would be unveiled in no distant time. The youth sensitisation programme against cultism, drug abuse and need for proper temperament to determine career choices featured prize-giving sessions to outstanding students as well as award of scholarships to 100 students from different schools within Awka and its environs.