• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Community leaders, clerics, others urged to step up campaign against illicit drug use

NDLEA, MTN Foundation partner against substance abuse

Community leaders, clerics, other influential individuals and groups in Nigeria have been called upon to step up campaign against illicit drug use.

The call was made by stakeholders at a one-day workshop. They observed that drug abuse and illicit drug use, especially among the youth population in Nigeria, was alarming and called for concerted effort to stop the menace.

The workshop was to mark the 2023 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with the theme, ‘People First; Stop the Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.’

The event, which held Thursday, at The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Aba-Owerri Road, Aba, Abia State, was organised by Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), Onyedinma Foundation (OnyeFund), Vivacious Development Initiative (VIDI) Centre for Human Rights Advocacy and Wholesome Society (CEHRAWS) and Abia State Directorate of National Orientation Agency (NOA).

Anu Binta Maurice, deputy state commander, NDLEA, Abia State command
urged youths to stay away from illicit drugs, saying it is dangerous to their health and can mar their future, noting that self-control is the best way to stay out of drugs.

She affirmed that drugs are everywhere in Nigeria, but noted that the agency is doing all it could to ensure that it does not get into wrong hands.

She said that drug trafficking and illicit drug use are becoming a menace in the country and urged community leaders and Clerics to join hands with the agency to reduce the scorge.

This is as she also advised youths to stay away from illicit drugs, saying it is dangerous to their health and can mar their future.

According to her, self-control is the best way to stay out of drugs.

“Youths please, do not to abuse drugs or indilge in the use of illicit dru. Don’t allow pear pressure to get you into drugs. Face your studies, because life is ahead of you”..

Obinna Nwagbara, executive director, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD) in his welcome address noted that the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, (UNODC), in 2022 said that 14.4 million Nigerians aged between 15 and 64 are into drug abuse.

While another source said that 11 percent of the Nigerian youth, are into drug and substance abuse.

This according to Nwagbara paints a bad picture, especially for a country whose teeming youth, as a result of over 40 percent unemployment rate, are not being mobilised as part of its productive forces.

He observed that some people resort to drug abuse to stop anxiety, depression, loneliness, joblessness, bereavement, economic misfortune, peer pressure, spousal influence, among others

“Colloquialism too has taken center stage in daily conversation, when it comes to drug and substance. Often, we hear youths these days scream ‘on kolos!,’ or use slangish expressions to code drugs and substances, like: marijuana (now coded as MJ or Mary Jane), tramadol (coded as trams or TM/D), lacatomtom (a code for the mixture of Lacasera carbonated drink and tomtom sweet) and so on.

“Often too, sniffing amonia from cesspools, then sniffing lizard and gecko dungs, araldite adhesives, carbon from power generator set exhaust, ‘treated handkerchiefs,’ and so on could make young ones get ‘high.’

“Randomly, a youth could be seen covering his or her nose with handkerchief or a piece of cloth; it is not that such youth perceived a bad stench, but that they are simply getting ‘high.’ Mkpụrụ Mmiri (Methamphetamine or Crystal Meth) has become prevalent in the society that we at YSAD are now trying to streamline a special conversation on it.

“To us, that Mkpụrụ Mmiri problem is a subject to interrogate. Our message today is simple: ‘stop the “highness” and “come back home, loved ones.”

He urged parents and guardians to do their best in making sure that their children or wards are raised in a dialogic way, by creating time to dialogue with their children, as they may be dealing with a lot of peer pressure and wanting to ‘feel among.’

“The world was taken aback when the news came from BBC that ‘over 1 million bottles of codeine cough syrup are taken daily in Kano State alone,’ leaving many to ask how much could have been taken in the entire nation.

“That report, entitled ‘Sweet Sweet Codeine,’ did not only come to everyone as a shock, but equally left many asking what the role of the local media is in amplifying such ugly trend that it would take a foreign media, this time that of the former colonial master, to unravel such a regime.

He thanked the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, led by Buba Marwa, a retired army general, for heightening the campaign and crusade against drug abuse and illicit flow.

“Cartels, rings and syndicates, as we harvest from news and social media, are being uncovered and sundry interceptions being made at various exit and entry points of our nation, including at NDLEA interdictions.”

Melvin Omelihu, a medical practitioner, explained that
drug abuse in Nigeria can be prevented through effective dealing with peer pressure.

He said that the biggest reason teens start using
illicit drugs is because their friends utilise it to deal with life pressure and advised parents to monitor their children as well as educate them on the dangers of drug abuse.