Hon. Oke Olugbenga, is President, Youths Saving Life Style Creation Initiative, a non-Government Organisation which main aim is to identify and tackle the source of dangerous drugs in collaboration with other agencies. He spoke to ISHOLA BALOGUN and BASHIR ADEFAKA on the efforts of his organisation in bringing the problem of drug abuse to an end. He is our role model this week.
What is the focus of your organisation?
We are a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) named: Youths Saving Life Style Creation Initiative. We campaign mainly against crime, drug abuse and trafficking as well as drug-crop cultivation. We also campaign against child trafficking, political violence and examination malpractice in Nigeria and the world at large.
Above all, we are duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. We are known with the appelation: “No place for dangerous drugs in Nigeria”.
So, what are you doing presently about it?
We are having a drastic approach to reducing demand on drugs. A lot of things come to play when you are talking about drug abuse. We have discovered that for us to really make an impact on the issue of drug war, the most important thing is to focus on reduction in the production of these dangerous drugs after being able to identify the source. One of these drugs is marijuana which is so common in Nigeria and traceable to Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and some parts of Edo State.
Report shows that all these states I’ve mentioned are known for the production of the bulk of this drug and we have been able to discover that most of the forest officers connive with the planters for the purpose of what they in turn would gain from these people.
What do you think is the rate of abuse especially among the youths?
In Ado Ekiti last Saturday, we held a programme of United Nations Day on Drugs and at the programme, I emphasised much on this aspect of drug abuse. Most parents are not aware that their children are on drugs and alcohol and they don’t do regular assessment on the characters of these children to be able to detect whether or not they are on drugs.
Again, this issue of drug abuse is from one stage to another. The moment you get into it and become addicted to it, you are going to be rehabilitated.
What is in operation now is that virtually all the teenagers, children between ages of 13 and 19 are already into drugs and alcohol. There should be an intervention step through education because education is the first step to the campaign in schools to disabuse the minds of the children to withdraw and to convince them why they shouldn’t do it.
What are your plans for tackling this menace?
First and foremost, it is education. Members of the public need intensive education about what this illicit drugs are, the evil they do and why they should guard against them.
To do this more effectively, we started from the schools. We are currently going into the schools to disabuse the minds of the students mainly of secondary schools not to go into drug and even those that are into it but have not entered the stage of addiction to desist from it.
The dangerous aspect of drug abuse is the stage of addiction. The moment you are addicted, the only option left is rehabilitation. You will be taken to rehabilitation homes, rehabilitated and then re-integrateded back into the society.
After an appreciable success in this area, we will then focus on the older ones. But right now, our target is the youths that are already into drug abuse and in doing this, we have been partnering with universities and teaching hospitals. By the grace of God, we will be going out having discovered 25 healing homes in Ekiti where people affected with drug related problems are being treated.
In fact there is a place in Ilogbo, Ekiti State, where we saw a healing home that has over 25 people that are already in chains as a result of drug addiction.
The figure of drug addicted cases is alarming. Even psychiatric departments and universities particularly in Ekiti have raised alarm that an average of five drugs related cases are reported monthly. So what are we saying? In the next four years, five drugs related cases in the multiple of 48 months is probably the case, then we are in trouble.
Also ,we have embarked on visits to mosques and churches.
We are moving round the country, God help us. We have gone to universities; healing homes, spending our own personal resources without any financial assistance from government to enable us carry out the job effectively. We have acquired a Jeep and several public address systems and all others needed material for the job.
What feedback have you got so far and how do you measure success of your activities?
The fact that the NDLEA accepted to collaborate with us and the recognition by United Nations Office on Drug and Crime that we enjoy for that programme are good feedback and means for measuring success.
Also former Vice Chancellor, University of Ado-Ekiti and currently member, Board of Trustees, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Professor Israel Oribuloye, publicly declared to join us at a workshop we had last Saturday at Afe Babalola University with over one thousand two hundred students in attendance. All the students also declared interest to join us.
The National President of National Association of the Polytechnic Students, Comrade Olawole, has applauded the tireless effort of YSLCI in fighting against drug abuse among youths in Nigerian higher institutions. He commended us for a successful workshop we conducted at Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti with a theme: “Youth escaping drug trap for productive lifetime.”
Among those present at that workshop were Comrade Oladoja Olusola of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State among others.