The ongoing International Youth Camp (IYC), with the theme ‘Awakening Humanity in Youth and Fostering Generational Z Leaders’, organised by the Nigerian Red Cross, is targeted at combating drug abuse. The camping exercise, which started August 26, is ending today September 2 at the Resettlement Camp, Igando, in Ikotun-Igando Local Council Development Area (LCDA) Lagos State. This year’s edition of the camp is somewhat timely coinciding with the national urgency to rescue our youths from the claws of drug abuse.
Aside from the recent ban of codeine, the government has been making efforts to tackle drug abuse, which is currently a global concern. One of such interventions is Lagos Kicks Against Drug Abuse (LASKADA) recently launched by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. Speaking about the initiative, Ambode said: “This campaign tagged `Lagos State Kicks against Drug Abuse (LASKADA)’ is a clarion call and a reminder of our responsibility as individuals, organisations and society to rise and safeguard our collective future. We must condemn in strong terms, the excessive and persistent self-administration of drugs without regard to medical prescription.” He also mentioned that Drug Dependent Rehabilitation Centres located in Isheri and Majidun were established to give support to the young ones addicted to drugs.
Mrs. Adebola Kolawole, the vice chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross (Lagos Branch), said drug abuse is something everybody is campaigning against. This is kind of collaboration we need to fight this epidemic. At the federal level, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) needs to redouble its effort to block all avenues through which these drugs get into the hands of our young ones. Handling this social vice with kid gloves is the most unreasonable thing to do. Given the enormous scale of this problem, we need strategic collaborations between the government/nongovernmental organisations and the private sector considering the critical need for information, resources and volunteers. For instance, there is a need to get current information on the different kinds of drugs abused and prime locations where drug addicts congregate. Insights gathered from studies should also be shared. It would also help to reward citizens who send useful information to law enforcement agents, especially leads to arrest “merchants of death” who go about selling these destructive drugs.
More and more volunteers will be needed to work with government social workers to help out on the field. Training is of essence. The volunteers need to be trained and motivated properly. Young people ought to be encouraged to participate in this kind of life-saving project.
Enlightenment about the dangers of abuse must continue in schools, churches, mosques, in public fora and everywhere young people can be found including the rural areas. The media need to help us bring to the fore burning issues that touch on the economic progress and wellbeing of our society.
The unsettling revelation that came out of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’s investigation on drug abuse earlier in the year awakened our legislators to their oversight/lawmaking duties but sadly codeine had already wreaked a lot of havoc. The question on my mind is: why is it that we often wait for things to go bad or become worse before we do the needful?
We have so many government agencies that are heavily funded every year yet we hardly feel their impact. It is when there is a negative development like this or the media beams its light on issues that touch on them that such agencies start looking for a way to remedy the situation. The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was like that for long until the late Professor Dora Akunyili got in the saddle. Appointing people who have no demonstrable sense of patriotism and credentials to head government agencies is a disservice to the nation.
By and large, we need robust networking, coordinated response, continuous enlightenment, political will and relentless enthusiasm to break the jaws of this Mephistophelian menace and salvage the precious lives of our young ones and the future of our nation.