Drug Abuse: Experts chart way forward as Kwara holds summit

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• Kwara deploying multiple approaches to fight menace: Gov AbdulRazaq

• Youth need education on risks of substance abuse: Presidential aide Rinsola Abiola

Stephen Olufemi Oni, Ilorin

Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has disclosed that his administration is deploying different strategies and investing in people-oriented programmes that encourage young people to follow noble paths and avoid drug abuse and other social vices in the state.

The Governor disclosed this in Ilorin, the state capital, on Tuesday at the 1st Kwara Stakeholders Summit on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control, which was themed “Forging a Common Front in the Fight against Drug Abuse”.

L-R: Chairman Kwara House Committee on Youth and Sports Hon Rukayat Shittu; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Citizenship and Leadership Ms Rinsola Abiola; Hon Seun Ogunniyi; Executive Director Global Initiatives on Substance Abuse Dr Martins Agwogie; Commissioner for Youth Development Hon. Nafisat Buge; Commissioner for Social Development and representative of Kwara State Governor Hon. Afolashade Opeyemi; Commander NDLEA Kwara State Command Mohammed Bashir Ibrahim; Special Assistant to the Governor on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Hon Aileru Olamilkan Mukail; Special Assistant (Media) to Hon. Mukhtar Shagaya, Basheer Luqman; and Commissioner for Business Innovation and Technology Hon Damilola Yusuf Adelodun; during the 1st Kwara Stakeholders’ Summit on Drug Abuse, Prevention, and Control, in Ilorin, on Tuesday.

The summit, which was attended by dozens of young people and keynoted by different experts on narcotics, was organised by the Office of the Special Assistant to the Governor on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control, Hon. Aileru Olamilekan Mukail.

The Governor said the session was designed to interact, examine, and make attempts at proffering solutions to the social problem.

“We understand that drug abuse has different roots, including idleness and lack of direction in life. It is for this reason that we are deploying different strategies to prevent crimes,” he said.

“Our investments in people-oriented interventions in the past four years are designed to create the enabling environment where our youth are gainfully engaged and involved in productive endeavors.

“The establishment of the Innovation Hub, Visual Arts Centre, Garment Factory, Film Factory, Shea Butter Factory, continuous support for the IVTEC, Kwapreneur, and overwhelming support for youth development are meant to achieve similar purposes.”

Represented by Commissioner for Social Development Hon. Afolashade Opeyemi, the Governor said the multi-pronged approaches his government deploys are yielding positive results.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Citizenship and Leadership Ms Rinsola Abiola, for her part, said the disturbing rate of substance abuse in the country requires that all hands must be on deck to tackle the challenge by reducing its prevalence among young people.

Explaining the key mandate of her office which includes promoting civil engagement and driving value among the youth, the President’s aide said drug abuse is not only closely linked to severe health risk and risky behaviour, but also hinders abusers from contributing meaningfully to national development.

“A lot of young people, especially those who have creative talents, claim that cannabis helps them to concentrate and be creative. But what they don’t understand is that 80 percent of psycho-cases related to drug abuse actually come about as a result of using cannabis,” she said, calling for constant sensitisation of drug addicts and young people on the attendant consequences of their act.

“They also mention that cannabis improves appetite and concentration. But that is in the early stage, because the effect it has later on tends to be disastrous,” she added.

She commended the efforts of Governor AbdulRazaq in combating the social vice through different strategies, saying his office is open for collaboration with the state government to collectively stem the tide of drug abuse in the state and Nigeria as a whole.

Aileru said in his welcome address that the event was another platform to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and forge concrete action plans, asking all stakeholders to leverage collective wisdom to unravel the roots of drug abuse, develop effective prevention strategies, and ensure accessible treatment and rehabilitation for those struggling.

NDLEA Commander, Kwara State Command, Bashir Ibrahim Muhammed, who spoke on “Drug Law Enforcement in Kwara: Progress, Challenges and Way Forward”, said the alarming rate of drug abuse among the youth in Nigeria and particularly in Kwara State calls for concern of all the stakeholders.

He thanked AbdulRazaq for his support so far and pledged that the agency will strengthen constant education, enforcement, and rehabilitation programmes to rid the state of drug addiction, adding that the command will soon commence training of trainers in communities, who he said will comprise community and religious leaders in the state on how to prevent and control drug abuse.

Dr. Martins Agwogie, who spoke on “The Journey of Drug Control in Nigeria: The Gaps and Way Forward”, said it takes a holistic approach to win the fight against substance abuse, suggesting that states and local governments should constitute drug abuse control committees for greater results, adding that rather than just arrest and prosecute offenders, the government at all levels should also inquire into why people abuse drugs. The majority of addicts are ignorant about the risk of their indulgence, he added.

Participants, such as youth corpers and students, took turns to applaud the government for the programme, and observed the need to intensify the sensitisation campaign, introduce stiffer penalties and prohibit celebrities against openly smoking Indian helms, among other measures.


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