The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has called for collaborative action to curb the menace of drug abuse among youths.
He stated that the rise in drug abuse and crime, most especially among the youths, was worrisome and undermined sustainable development and stability of the polity.
Agba’s positions were echoed at a one-day seminar on “Eradication of Drug Abuse and Illicit Substances among the Youths in Nigeria” organized by BABA-RABI Community Development Initiative (CDI), recently in Abuja.
Represented by his Special Assistant on Inter-Governmental Affairs, Rajab Abdulrahman, he noted that serious problems of drugs and crimes were shared responsibilities that required practical, efficient, and comprehensive approach at all levels.
He also stressed the importance of soft measures through information, prevention campaigns as well as treatment and rehabilitation of drug users.
Agba disclosed that the Federal Government, through the Ministry, had been in partnership with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in implementing an intervention programme, tagged: “RESPONSE TO DRUGS AND RELATED ORGANISED CRIME IN NIGERIA” since 2013.
According to him, the partnership had, in the course of implementing the project, achieved the launch of the National Policy for Controlled Medicines, National guidelines for quantification and estimation of narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors for medical and scientific purposes and minimum standards for drug treatment, support to 11 model drug treatment services, among others.
In the same vein, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development Sunday Dare, represented by Michael Ngwangu, in his goodwill message, harped on the need for concerted efforts by all relevant stakeholders to fight against the ravaging scourge of drug abuse and illicit substance abuse to reduce its impact on the growing youth population.
He said this was against the backdrop of the fact that “Nigeria is projected to be 3rd most populous country in the world being the most populous black nation with an estimated population of 188.9 million in 2015 according to the National Population Commission and with annual growth of 3.2 percent.”
Speaking earlier, the Chief Executive/founder of the Baba-Rabi foundation, Mrs Nana Fatima Mede, asserted that drug abuse among Nigerian youths had been a scourge to the overall sustainable development of the Nation.
She added that it was also a major public health, social and individual problem seen as an aggravating factor for economic crises, hence Nigeria’s poverty status.
The Chief Executive, therefore, regretted that some youths who were supposed to be major agents of change and developments had been destroyed by drug abuse, thereby rendering them unproductive.
Mede informed that according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria had a National Average of 14.4 percent prevalence of drug abuse, which almost tripled the world average of 5.6 percent.
The objectives of the Seminar were to sensitize and create awareness among the Nigerian youths and communities on the dangers of drug abuse to human health and national development as well as to identify Change Agents among the youths; strengthen their capacity on drug harm reduction advocacy, policy engagement, and drug user’s human right and protection mechanism, among others.