By Moses Omorogieva
The Lagos State First Lady, Mrs Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, the Creative Industry Group (CIG), the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), celebrities have raised alarm against youths involvement in illicit drugs.
They raised their concerns during a conference organised by CIG, with the theme: “The Drug Abuse Conference; Generation Next and the Implosion”.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu, represented by Dr Omowunmi Bakare, discribed the conference as quite apt considering the rate at which children and youths get involved in abusing drugs and other vices.
According to her, drug addiction is a worrisome menace in our contemporary society and no one can pretend that this menace does not exist.
The First Lady advised that the earlier we begin to tackle the daunting challenges posed by this monster, the better for the youths and the social health of the society.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu commended the Creative Industry Group, led by the President, Amb. Felix Duke, for initiating the programme focusing on rehabilitating, educating, and empowering persons facing the unpleasant consequences of drug-related conditions.
“The youths are the strength of every Nation and they play vital roles in the society. They utilize their skills for the economic growth and political stability of the society.
“It is important to stress that the youths have the power to make a difference in nation-building and as such must be guided on the right path.
“All relevant stakeholders present at this event need to work together towards proffering lasting solutions to various vices that affect the younger generation or prevent them from attaining their full potential,” she said.
The first lady noted that in realizing a safe and secure environment for our citizens, her Office has initiated various interventions and support Programmes for the children, youths, and women, empowering them with relevant skills to meet the demands of our society.
The Programmes, according to her include: the Boy Child initiative, the Lagos Exam Support, Youth Collabo, the Financial and Skills Empowerment programme for the less privileged in society, among others aimed at supporting the younger generation towards realizing their aspirations and engaging them productively.
“I, therefore, urge all our children and youths to have the right attitude and strive to reflect nothing but excellence.
“The world is now a global village with no room for mediocrity and this means that our youths must always be at their best. They must be focused and position themselves for the emerging world.
“I also advise parents to guide their children diligently and care for them, this will enable them to be free and relate their challenges as friends without restrictions,” she counseled.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu assured that as a government, they will not relent in their commitment and passion to sustain and scale up the fight against drug and substance abuse as well as illicit trafficking through the Inter-Ministerial Drug Abuse Control Committee.
The Chairman, NDLEA, Gen. Buba Marwa retired, represented by Mrs Rita Okpere, (Commander of Narcotics) and Deputy Director, Media and Advocacy, said that the menace of trafficking in prohibited substances and drug abuse in any given society cannot be overemphasized.
Marwa said that any society where the illicit drugs monsters were visible, should be attacked with fierce effective seriousness due to their nature and capabilities as the attendant consequences could crumble a nation’s life if not curbed.
He pointed out that Nigeria as a nation was never a source country, neither was it a destination country/user country, but was just a transit country – a country whereby drug shipments travel through to reach local dealers and users.
According to him, as time went by, Nigeria crystalized into a consuming nation since the drugs that were meant to pass through her was now being consumed.
“That was how the issue of drug abuse started in full force and gained much ground as it has done today in Nigeria,” he noted.
The chairman said that drug abuse was when substances or drugs are used in a manner that deviates from medically approved or socially acceptable patterns by the society.
He said that drug abuse was not limited to teenagers and youths, stressing that it was more common among them in our society.
The chairman noted that the 2018 National Drug Survey result supported by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), shows that while the global drug use prevalence was 5.6 percent the drug use prevalence in Nigeria was 14.4 percent.
He said the percentage was almost three times the global average and this was not good for the image of the country.
“Some of the commonly abused classes of drugs in our country include: STIMULANTS: e.g., Amphetamine, Methamphetaine, Caffeine etc. They speed up/increase the functionality of the Central Nervous System.
“DEPRESSANTS: e.g., Valium, Lexotan, Diazepam and Rohypnol. They slow down the functionality of the central Nervous system. HALLUCINOGENS: e.g., Ecstacy/Molly, ketamine. They alter the user’s perception of reality.
“NARCOTICS: e.g., Heroin, Morphine, Opium, Codeine and tramadol. They have both stimulating and depressing effects on the user. STEROIDS which are typically used to build muscle mass and treat inflammatory conditions like asthma and arthritis but when abused, steroids can cause liver and kidney problems, blood pressure among others.
“INHALANTS e.g., nail polish, sniffing burnt tyres, nitrous oxides in balloons, highlight markers etc. UNCONVENTIONAL DRUGS: Gutter water (mix of tramadol, cannabis, codeine and vodka) La casera and tom tom (lacatomtom) Zakama aka “suk and die”
Marwa said that some consequences of drug abuse include serious damage to vital organs of the body, lack of concentration, memory loss, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat among others.
He said it can also lead to life threatening infections like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis can also be attracted through the sharing of needles and syringes used in injecting drugs, while death can also occur as an offshoot of drug abuse.
The chairman said that the social effect of illicit drugs include hostility as they often get involved in unnecessary conflicts with friends, family and authorities in various capacities, cultism, armed robbery, banditry, rape and other crimes.
Marwa pointed out that the image of Nigeria was astake if the manace was not checked as it would discouraged investors to come and invest in the country.
He, however, noted that Nigeria, for some years now, have been enjoying certification from UN record, stressing that the agency will continue to do it best to check the producers, importers and users.
Marwa called on all stakeholders, particularly parents, teachers, religious leaders, community leaders to preach against illicit drugs usage.
Speaking earlier, the President of CIG, Amb. Felix Duke, said the conference became necessary in view of the danger the illicit was posing for Nigeria future.
Duke said some members of his group, particularly the celebrities are regarded as role models by the youths, unfortunately some of these celebrities are tagged drug addicts.
He said they decided to come out to lend their voices so that the youths should not be misguided.
He said the conference will also hold in other states, calling on corporate organisation for support.
The event also witnessed the investiture of Mrs Sanwo-Olu as the Matron of CIG and OJ as the Patron.
In attendance were three secondary schools from Surulere, representatives of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, and Health in Lagos State.
Other dignitaries were Pupa Orits Wiliki, Film producer Zeb Ejiro, Actor Emeka Ossia, Wisdom, a film maker, Queen Blessing Ibigesi, President of Association of Movies Producers, CIG executives and members.