ABUAD: NO HAVEN FOR DRUG ADDICTS
ACQUIRES DOPE SCREENING MACHINE, RUSTICATES OFFENDERS
By YINKA FABOWALE, Ibadan
Seeking admission into Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD)? Then you must not be hooked on drugs, or if you are, you need to kick the habit, in addition to your possessing a smart head.
That is the message the young, but high profile university is sending unequivocally to prospective students, as it acquires a hard drugs detecting machine, breath alcohol testers and allied kits to screen and ensure new and stale students are drug-free.
Already over 10 students who tested positive had been rusticated by the institution’s authorities when the multi-million Naira facilities, apparently the first of their kind in higher institutions in the country, were put to test at the beginning of the new academic session last October.
The measure is part of Aare Afe Babalola, the university’s founder/president’s vision of providing a model learning environment devoid of drug addiction, cultism, robbery, murderers and other malfeasances that afflicted higher institutions in the country, especially in the immediate past two decades.
Babalola was for two consecutive terms the Pro Chancellor/Chairman, Governing Council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, where he helped in turning around the fortunes of the federal institution plagued then by corruption, strikes and deviant behaviours among students that were the common features of its counterparts across the federation. His exposure to the ills and crises of higher education inspired the founding of ABUAD, to serve as benchmark for tertiary institutions and run a smooth academic calendar not distorted by these problems.
Dr. Foluso Jubilee, ABUAD’s Director of Health Services, who oversees the exercise, which, Daily Sun was told, is a continuous one, said: “If you work in this place, you’ve got to run with the vision of the founder, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), to turn education around. We are aware of the rottenness of our tertiary institutions, even secondary schools. We hear of robberies, cultism, drug addiction, and murder of fellow students or lecturers by students. Most of these evils are not possible ordinarily. You have to be high up there, for how do you expect a 16 or 17-year -old boy to go into thick bush in the middle of the night to hold meetings except, of course, he is under the influence of hard drugs? Here in ABUAD, we want the parents to sleep with their eyes closed, knowing that their children are secured, not a case where you’re called that your son has been caught for armed robbery or killed in cult violence. We don’t want to wait until that happens, hence the screening”.
Dr. Jubilee, who was not forthcoming on the exact cost of the drug detector, however, said it was one of the topmost grades and brands and able not only to detect hard drugs in the human system but also tell the exact type.
Of the maiden screening result, she said the machine picked Marijuana (Cannabis) as the major drug the victims tested positive to, although there were few strains of other narcotics, which, she, however, declined to name.
Trust students, as news of the new measure spread, the guilty ones sought various means to evade detection. Daily Sun learnt that, while some diluted their urine (specimen) with water, others tried to enter the campus illegally by avoiding the main entrance and scaling the university’s imposing wall fence.
“But we still caught them all the same”, said Dr. Jubilee, extolling the power of the drug detector.
Those who attempted to steal into the campus also fell into the hands of the security squad of the all-boarding university.
“But”, said Dr. Jubilee: “Even if the security men did not catch them, there are other measures. If you beat the security, you will not beat the medical team and if you think you can, you will not beat the people that allocate rooms in the hostels, because you have to show proof of having undergone and passed the drug test”.
According to the health services director, some of the students and parents initially thought it was a joke, “because knowing how much Baba (Babalola) valued education, they thought he won’t ask them to just go like that. But they soon realized we meant business as those who were caught were sent away right from there. You don’t even come near the hostel”.
Jubilee explained, however, that there is forgiveness for those who reform and are willing to continue their education. “We’re not out to destroy destinies, rather, we are out to mould destinies. So, those rusticated can come back if they repent and have gone for rehabilitation. We re-screen such and they can resume their studies”, said she.
But in order to check a relapse or contagion from such re-admitted students, the drug screening has become a permanent feature in which students are routinely and randomly tested. Says Dr. Jubilee: “As a student on the campus, you can be called while moving from one college to the other, or even while in your hostel or cafeteria. This is to put the students in check at all times”.
Jubilee says the measures as well as an official ban on alcohol use have heightened the level of discipline and good conduct among the university students, adding: “You know, when you see a child who started well now skipping lectures, telling lies, disrespecting lecturers, you suspect he may be on drugs, but fortunately we don’t have such misbehaviour among our students. And a few cases of truancy we’ve had in the past have virtually disappeared”.
Accolades have also been coming in for the university’s proprietor for the initiative. Says Dr. Jubilee: “You know when we told the company we bought the machine from what we needed it for, the CEO could not believe. He said, ‘you mean an individual is doing this for this generation? We have got to come and see him’.
According to the director, the company’s delegation made good its promise, but could not meet Aare Babalola, who was out of town during the first visit, but did on the second attempt.
The CEO was reported as saying, after the encounter: “This man is a rare breed. Many private universities or school owners just want to make profit. But here, the man, Afe, is investing in the future of this children, without any thoughts of self gain. One is certainly humbled”.