As the students gather into the Alvan Ikoku Federal University auditorium on the 10th of July, 2019 talking among themselves and listening to the musical mixes of DJ Fresh, the Student Union members including the President and Vice as well as faculty members also take their respectable seats and are presented with participant tags and branded Samuel Mary & Dame Emily Obiyo Fondation t-shirts. The energetic student volunteers pass around the program of the day along with a free handout to the students and as the faculty heads are introduced by MC Duke, the speakers prepare their materials and talk discreetly among themselves.
Right after the opening prayer, National Anthem and pledge, taking to the stage first was Anthonia Annie Obilana – Executive Director/Obiyo Foundation, she addresses the students and gives them a brief background about herself putting them at ease to set the tempo of the seminar.
Annie informs the students of Obiyo Foundation’s aim “we are not here to accuse you all of substance abuse, studies show that young people are less likely to abuse drugs when they are educated on the dangers. We want to harm you with knowledge so that we can prevent drug abuse at its roots.” She speaks firmly and eloquently often pausing to make sure the listening students are still with her, she explains what the contents of the handouts hold and the impact that the students themselves can make on the fight against drugs.
“We want to harm you with knowledge so that we can prevent drug abuse at its roots”. – Anthonia Annie Obilana – Executive Director
Next to deliver her speech was Dr. Oparah, who gave a good amount of information about the differences between the drug types as well as the impact of addiction. Highlighting the five main reasons, she said “There are many reasons as to why people go into the habit, but there are five main reasons and these include; Peer Pressure, Frustration, Idleness, Ignorance and Curiosity. When your peers tell you to try it because it did not hurt them but you do not know the harm they are doing to themselves because all you see is them on the outside, do not fall into that trap”. Dr. Oparah was sure to cover all the basis of tell-tale signs to look out for in others if you suspect they might be abusing drugs.
Following Dr. Oparah’s informative speech was Dr. Anokam, she changed the tempo of the seminar and gave facts on the percentage of drug use in all the states, the students were shocked to learn that in the south east region of Nigeria, Imo state had the highest abuse of Cannabis at over 18%. The students voiced their disbeliefs. This opened up the next agenda on the program which was the open questions segment, one of the questions asked by Okoro Ebele -a student- was “If illicit drugs have no economic and health value why are they still made available to the society?” she was answered by Annie of Samuel Mary & Dame Emily Obiyo Foundation “Licit drugs are made available to help people but are still abused, illicit drugs are not made available to the society but are smuggled in by people who benefit from the depreciation of the community and prey upon the weakness in times of frustration. The fact is we may not have the power to fully end drug abuse, however as human beings we have the power to care about what happens to our community by influencing the statistics from one in three using drugs to two in three influencing the last one against using drugs”. This answer was greeted with a round of applause and both Dr. Oparah and Dr. Anokam adding to the answer that as people our duty is to assist those with drug abuse issues in getting the much needed help via the available school resources, they also shared the location of the guidance counselor who then introduced herself to the students for the benefit of those unaware of who she was.
“Licit drugs are made available to help people but are still abused, illicit drugs are not made available to the society but are smuggled in by people who benefit from the depreciation of the community and prey upon the weakness in times of frustration. The fact is we may not have the power to fully end drug abuse, however as human beings we have the power to care about what happens to our community by influencing the statistics from one in three using drugs to two in three influencing the last one against using drugs.” – Anthonia Annie Obilana – Executive Director
The closing speech was then delivered by Anthonia Annie Obilana on behalf of Samuel Mary & Dame Emily Obiyo Foundation and the Founder Dr. Uzoma Obiyo K.S.C. she thanked the students for their robust participation and informed them that refreshments had been provided by the foundation. In the final words the mission, vision and main goal of the foundation was repeated and the students where directed to the various social media handles and website www.obiyofoundation.org.
After the closing prayer, the seminar ended on a very optimistic note with many students voicing that other informative programs and workshops should be introduced more often to them.
The program was a success and as the students ate and enjoyed the music, only positive reviews could be heard around the auditorium.