By Marie-Therese Nanlong
AS the problem of drug abuse escalates across the country, a group, Young African Leaders Initiative, YALI, has taken a campaign to dissuade children from consuming illicit drugs to schools in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
YALI, an association of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni in Nigeria, working in collaboration with the support of the United States Embassy in Nigeria, visited Government Secondary School, Kyan Rikkos, Government Secondary School, Gwom and Assemblies of God Private School, which operate in drug-prone communities.
It will be recalled that illicit drug consumption has fuelled a series of criminalities in Plateau communities, while some members of cult groups such as the dreaded ‘Sara Suka gang’ are often caught with illicit drugs.
Such cultists have also recruited children as young as eight years as members and exposed them into drug consumption not minding the dire consequences.
But to assist in curbing the rising trend of drug abuses in the communities, YALI Nigeria, took the campaign to schools with a view to enlightening students on the dangers associated with illicit drug use.
The coordinator of the project, who is also the leader of YALI Network Plateau, Esther Mark, said the sensitisation campaign was part of YALI’s efforts to invest in the next generation of African leaders through trainings, mentorship, coaching and guidance with the aim to tackle the drug abuse menace that has become rampant among youths.
She said: “Drug Free clubs had been formed earlier in the year and students mentored to also train their peers on the knowledge they have acquired to help them stay free from abusing drugs and new schools are being incorporated to expand the project which is aimed at helping young people to stay free from illicit drugs.
She added that teachers in the new schools coming on board will be trained and engaged as coaches for the clubs to meet up with YALI’s mandate to invest in the next generation of leaders to be good and useful citizens in the state and the country.
She said that the campaign was aimed at sensitising students on the harmful effects of abusing drugs and most importantly the roles they can play in enlightening others on how to stop or never venture into such an act.” Also addressing the students, Mercy Ajaegbo, a medical personnel, explained to the students ways to avoid falling victims to gangs that could influence them to take drugs and also reminded them of the devastating effects of illicit drugs.
She further taught the students the many forms of drug abuse and how it affects the body physically and psychologically and advised them to abstain from it.
Other speakers, including Manasseh Dati, a lecturer with Plateau State University, counselled the students on career choice and how addiction to drug abuse could affect their dreams in life.
The Principal of the Assemblies of God School, Aderonke Oladele, expressed satisfaction with the level of engagements with the students and hoped the activity would be sustained for better awakening of the students. Over 600 students were in attendance at the event.