Marwa charges stakeholders to tackle drug abuse

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has charged parents and other stakeholders to rise up to the challenge of ensuring that illicit substances were kept away from young Nigerians.

The Chairman, NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd), made the call yesterday at the Realnews Magazine 10th year anniversary lecture in Lagos.

In a statement by the NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, in Abuja, Marwa was quoted to have warned that complacency was capable of compromising the bright future ahead of the youth population.

He said: “Let me leave us with a thought-provoking submission about the danger of complacency in tackling drug abuse among youths.

“By 2030, demographic factors project the number of people using drugs to rise by 11% around the world, and as much as 40% in Africa alone.

“This is an early warning that we should all take seriously and ensure that we keep our young people away from dangerous substances that compromise the bright future ahead of them,” he said.

He noted that instead of benefitting from the advantages of the huge youth population in Nigeria, the reverse might be the case, adding that this would be if relevant stakeholders failed to stand up and join on-going efforts against the drug scourge.

He continued: “It is globally recognised that one of Africa’s comparative advantages is its huge youth population.

“This country, Nigeria, for instance, has no less than 151 million young people, accounting for 70% of our estimated 217 million population.

“Most of us don’t know what that means. Youth means creativity, strength, resourcefulness and productivity. But how do we rake in these benefits when a significant number of this population is involved in the abuse of illicit substances?

“The truth is instead of a boom, they could become a burden because of abuse of illicit substances,” he said.

This is an early warning that we should all take seriously and ensure that we keep our young people away from dangerous substances that compromise the bright future ahead of them.

Marwa said in response to whole-of-society approaches needed to ensure that people, young people most of all, have the information and develop the resilience to make good choices, especially as it relates to drug abuse.

He said the NDLEA has initiated some youth focused measures to safeguard them against the pressures and temptations of going into drugs.

He said, “Such measures include: “War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign, a grassroots-oriented advocacy, which we are using to diffuse anti-drug sentiment across the various strata of our society.

“NDLEA Twitter Space where drug issues are discussed by experts from within the country and around the world to an audience of young people.

“A 24/7 Drug Abuse call centre with a toll-free helpline: 0800 1020 3040, which allows drug users, their families and employers to seek treatment without compromising their identities or safety.

“Other measures include an open-door treatment at 26 NDLEA treatment facilities across the country,” he said.

Marwa said this had become necessary following the release of the 2018 National Drug Use and Health Survey, saying: “Nigeria has been seeking solutions to the drug scourge, especially as it pertains to youths.

“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari gives NDLEA unflinching support. The agency in turn has been working on several measures which are largely youth-focused, he said.

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