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FG intensifies fight against drug abuse, launches joint task committee

Ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to tackle menace of drug abuse in Nigeria gained traction on Tuesday with the launch of a Joint Task Committee on drug prevention, treatment and care programme.

Speaking during the first joint stakeholders engagement held in Abuja, Executive Director of Re-Orientation Advocacy of Nigeria (RAN), Mr. Charles Olufemi Folayan said, the coalition was set up to bridge the gap and the disconnections between stakeholders working on drug demand reduction and to build collaboration for holistic evidence based interventions on drug prevention, treatment and care.

Mr. Folayan who doubles as the Coordinator of the Joint Task Team explained that the initiative was in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration statement and its commitment to tackling the drug abuse menace and its associated consequences in all forms, by working with civil stakeholders who are compassionate and eager to take urgent actions necessary to save and protect our communities, societies and all our people.

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He added that the collaboration was also in agreement with the resolution of the Nigeria’s House of Representatives on the 1st of June 2023 for Nigeria to declare an emergency on the drug abuse menace.

He noted that research shows that drug abuse is a major challenge confronting Nigeria, it is already a menace among the youth and women. And the precursor to all forms of indiscipline, lawlesness and crimes which have resulted into huge economic, social, political and environmental problems.

He lamented that the streets of many towns and cities in Nigeria are littered with youths and women immersed in drug and substance abuse activities.

These experiences predispose them to armed robbery, vandalism, sexual assault, insurgency, banditry, domestic abuse and violence, HIV and AIDS, and accidents among others.

While commending the effort of the various stakeholders thus far, he noted that solving the challenges of drug abuse in Nigeria demands a workable strategies and team work.

“We must commend every organisation here for putting tremendous effort to addressing the current challenges. Solving the challenges of drug abuse demands a number of strategic steps in line with international standard. From identifying the causes, the people affected, their location, their status and the treatment required as well as the rehabilitation and reintegration process.

“Our partnership would forge a common purpose and allow easy flow of our work in line with each organization’s mandate and in conformity with the strategic objectives of the National Drug Control Master Plan 2021-2025 and the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Act.

“It is important to note that a concrete synergy and deliberate platform of this nature would go a long way in proferring effective, efficient and sustainable solutions.

“The process that led to today’s event started some years ago and we are confident that our engagement with the various organizations is worth doing.

“Our goal is to focus on the grassroots (States, Constituencies, Local Governments and Wards) through data survey assessment, training and inauguration of caregivers, establishment of Control Centers, establishment of Social Centers for rehabilitation and skills development and creation of post-rehabilitation employment opportunities.

“No country can make any significant progress with over 40% of her youth population including young women engaging in drug abuse with the rate of drug use twice the global average of 5.3 percent,” Mr. Afolayan noted.

He disclosed that the programme which would commence in January 2024 has secured partnership with six States across geo-political zones and the Federal Capital Territory as pilot states.

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