The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd) have decried the rising case of drug abuse among youths in the country, calling for strict enforcement of existing laws and new legislations to tackle the hydra-headed monster.
Obaseki and the NDLEA boss spoke at the ‘Say No to Drugs’ lecture/seminar in Benin City, the Edo State capital as part of activities for the ongoing Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament (BOWFT).
The BOWFT in its second edition is taking place between September 7, 2022 and September 17, 2022, in Benin City.
Obaseki said, “Drug abuse has reached a crisis level in the Nigerian society and the extent and way our youths consume drugs and other harmful substances have reached an alarming height and almost becoming a pandemic.
“Study show that there are up to 40 percent and 20 percent prevalence of drug abuse among students and youths respectively.
“Report from our monthly review of our Council Security meeting in Edo State, and crime analysis in the state, identifies drug abuse as the second most pressing issues of concern in the state as regard crime and criminality aside from kidnapping which is also enhanced by drug abuse.”
The governor continued: “Drug abuse has been worsened by the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike as students are idle at home seeking avenues for self-expression.
“Drug abuse is a global crisis that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to make the call for a collective actions amongst different stakeholders to collaborate and tackle drug abuse as the adverse effect has destroyed the lives of many youths and condemned them to live dependent on drugs.
“Drugs also limit the ability of the youths to function effectively in our society and deprive the society of a much needed human capital to drive productivity and economic growth.
“It is a global issue that must be tackled head on. As we seek more support in tackling drug abuse in Edo State and Nigeria, we are ready to collaborate with NDLEA to tackle drugs.”
“We will continue to push for stricter enforcement of existing laws and make new legislations to further strengthen critical institutions which are required to tackle this menace,” obaseki added.
Speaking on the effect of drugs on sports, the governor said, “Drug abuse is a hydra-headed monster. Drug abuse presents itself in various forms with immense impacts on the sports industry and the larger society, hence it is very important for collective actions to tackle this menace for the betterment of the society.
“Sports as we all know is a very important tool for social mobilization and youth engagement and presents a veritable platform to wage this all-important war against drug abuse.”
Hailing the organisers of the event for the laudable initiative, Obaseki stated, “I commend my wife, the deputy governor and other partners for taking advantage of this sporting event to tackle the problem head on.
“I want to applaud the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) and sporting community across the country for using this pre- season women’s tournament to raise social consciousness on social vices by deploying sports as a tool for societal regeneration.”
The NDLEA boss who was represented by Otunba Lanre Ipinmsho, noted, “NDLEA appreciates the thoughtfulness of Edo First Lady to have drug abuse as the theme of this year's tournament and working with relevant stakeholders to fight the menace to a standstill in Nigeria. Your effort is very commendable.”
Delivering a paper titled “Combating Drug Trafficking and Providing Care for Victims of Drug Abuse," Marwa said the programme complements the ongoing War Against Drugs Abuse (WADA) advocacy launched by NDLEA in June 2021.
On her part, the facilitator of the event, Mrs. Betsy obaseki noted, “We are working to bring back the glory of Edo people as we are known for sports, entrepreneurship and culture and entertainment. This administration is out to re-enact the glory of the state, especially in sports. As we try to re-enact sports in the state, we are targeting our young girls and creating a way for them to make good money in sports.
“During the 72nd session of FIFA Congress in March this year, our state was recognised for the great improvement in sports, especially in empowering our youths through the BOWFT.
"Every year, we adopt a theme for the tournament and this year is to fight against drug abuse.”
Chairperson, Nigeria Governors Wives Forum, Mrs. Bisi Adeleye Fayemi, added, “As governors’ wives, we deal with many issues as we have a lot of issues in our minds among which is drug abuse. I thank you for what you have done for the people of Edo State. I also thank Governor Obaseki for creating an enabling environment for our sister to operate as she has enriched our group.
“We are happy to be a part of this event. Sports builds the self-esteem of our youths and makes them disciplined. I encourage you to stay off drugs as it will not help but destroy your lives.