ABUJA – (BPSR Report) – The Director-General in the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) has described as worrisome the rate at which youths in the country engage in drugs and substance abuse in the country. He said the abuse in Nigeria has risen to a considerable level, especially among the youthful age of persons below 35 years, and commonly used by almost all categories of youths.
The DG disclosed this lately at the 8th National Youth Summit on Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention, organised by the African Youths Initiative on Crime Prevention (AYICRIP) in Abuja. Arabi noted that drug and hard substances abuse in the country are influenced by factors such as low educational background, peer group pressure, poor socio-economic status, curiosity and poor academic performance.
“Findings from report by drug enforcement agencies in Nigeria indicate that despite the adoption of various strategic plans, laws and policies, the prevalence rate among youths is still high. It has become worrisome as studies from the Public Health Review 2012 reveal that over 50% of drug abusers fall between the active population whose ages are below 35 years,” he explained.
“The age bracket indicated constitutes the valuable asset of the nation required for sustainable social development. It therefore implies that if decisive actions are not put in place to prevent these group of persons from consuming hard drugs and substances, the country in no distant time would be flooded by lunatics, miscreants and unproductive workforce.”
He posited that the Government, NGOs, society, religious and traditional leaders all have roles to play before the problem could be addressed.
Earlier in his remarks, the AYICRIP Director – General, Chris C. Ibe said that the summit is designed to bring youth leaders, policy makers, academics, leaders of faith-based institutions and heads of civil society organizations across the country together to train them on life and substance abuse prevention skills, while exposing them to the consequences and repercussions associated with illicit drug tracking as well as drug and substance abuse among youths.
Chris Ibe lamented that with a greater number of Nigerian youths at home, there is currently a surge in youth involvement and indulgence towards criminal activities, often driven by abuse of drug and substances. He added that drawing from the National Drug Use Survey 2019, conducted by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), 14.4 percent of Nigerians are presently engaged in drug abuse and 27.7 percent of the 14.4 percent are youths and these calls for great concern.
“It is also important to know that both male and female are caught in this web as one in every 10 drug users is a woman. This has affected women and girls proportionately and the functionality of these youths has been challenged, leaving us with few hands in the labour market, manpower and production sector and most especially families, friends and organizations have lost love ones,” he added.
The AYICRIP DG continued that the annual summit is targeted towards bringing together youths from diverse backgrounds and regions with the aim of re -channeling their energy towards meaningful engagements, giving them access to mentorship and counseling sessions and availing them the opportunity to network and build relevant connections that can translate to making healthy life decisions and upward development.