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February 9, 2022

70% of youths threatened by drugs, says Marwa

70% of youths threatened by drugs, says Marwa

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Marwa launches WADA Club for Universities at UNIABUJA
…Explains why Drug Integrity Test for Universities is necessary.

By: Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja.

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig General Buba Marwa has warned that the nation faces a grim future over the rate of drugs prevalence among youths wondering, “what will become of Nigeria with about 70% youth population if the future of its youths is ravaged by drugs.

Speaking while launching the War Against Drugs Abuse (WADA) Club at the University of Abuja, Marwa said, “Part of the measures to reduce drug use in universities is the proposed introduction of the Drug Integrity Test for both new and returning students.

According to him, “The Drug Integrity Test is anticipated to metamorphose into an anti-drug policy for all higher institutions of learning in Nigeria.

“It is expected that the University of Abuja, being the “University of National Unity”, will be the first public university in Nigeria to adopt the Drug Integrity Test for fresh and returning students of the institution.

“The Drug Integrity Test is not a punitive measure, rather it is an early detection tool to ascertain an individual’s drug use status for appropriate intervention, and timely treatment and care.

“This will also entail that the university will develop a drug policy and make such available to each student.

“Equally important is the need to create an NDLEA outpost on the campus where we’ll deploy our men to assist the authorities, deter drug dealers and users within the university.

“It is commendable to know that the University of Abuja has a functional Counselling and Career Services Centre which attends to the psychological and emotional needs of the students including those struggling with drug addiction.

“There is a need to give necessary support and care to those who are already hooked on drugs to get out of the habit.

“As such. I would recommend the establishment of Counselling (and Career Services) Centres in all universities which are yet to establish such. To the students, I charge you in the spirit of true patriotism to desire and work towards a country devoid of drugs and its attendant consequences.

Continuing on the high prevalence of drug useage, Marwa said, “The facts have alarming human angles. For instance, the survey revealed that one in every four drug users in Nigeria is female. And it is instructive and worrisome to know that drug use was common among those aged 25-39 years, while the age of initiation was 22 years for heroin and 19 years for cannabis.

Emphasizing that “these age groups comprised of young people who are either in secondary or tertiary institutions or are on the cusp of graduation”, he said, “To simplify the report of the survey: young people are overwhelmingly the majority of drug abusers in Nigeria.

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“That is a jolting reality because youths are the building blocks of every developed nation and anything that affects the youth population affects the nation. The youth population constitutes the country’s workforce and the stronger the youth of a country, the more developed that country would be.

Appreciating Vice-Chancellor and the Counselling and Career Services Centre of the university for finding it imperative to sensitize the students and the entire university community on the devastating consequences of substance use and the way forward, Marwa said the theme, “Drug-Free University and Tertiary Institutions,” is apt and timely as there is no better time than now to combat the drug challenge in the university community and among students.

He continued, “The menace of drug use is of worrisome dimension, this is even as the government has put in place measures in line with international conventions to counter this growing challenge among our youths.

“The abuse and trafficking of drugs is a global problem and Nigeria couldn’t have been insulated from this scourge. This was why in 1990 the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) was established and charged with the responsibility of “enforcing laws against the cultivation, processing, sale, trafficking and use of narcotics and psychotropic substances and to investigate persons suspected to have dealings in drugs and other related matters.”

“Since then, the Agency has not relented in its efforts at reducing the use and trafficking of drugs. But the truth on the ground indicates that our society needs to do more. The National Drug Use and Health Survey of 2018 showed that Nigeria has a peculiar drug use prevalence.

“At 14.4%, the country’s drug use prevalence is almost three times the global average of 5.6%. And what is worse, the abuse of drugs cuts across all ages, gender, socioeconomic status and regions.

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“As revealed by statistics from the survey, 14.3 million Nigerians, aged 15-64 years, used psychoactive substances, while 10.6 million abused cannabis and 4.6 million others abused pharmaceutical opioids such as codeine, tramadol and morphine among others.

“To aggressively reverse the trend, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign on 26th June 2021 to commemorate the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.

“The goal of WADA is to mobilize all Nigerians, especially the youth population, for active participation in the process of ridding our society of the drug menace.

“As one of the worst-hit age groups by the drug menace, Nigerian youths are critical stakeholders to the attainment of the laudable goals of WADA.

“Since the launch of WADA, the Agency has initiated evidence-based prevention activities which include focused advocacy, drug awareness campaign, sensitization, treatment and care of People Who Use Drugs (PWUD).

“We have launched a renewed campaign and intensive sensitization, targeting youths in schools at all levels as well as youths out of school.

“The pervasiveness and magnitude of the drug use problem have necessitated the change in the name of the club from Drug-Free Club to War Against Drug Abuse Club―WADA Club for short―to inject a renewed vibe and vigour into the club and its members.

“The main objective of the WADA Club include among others, “To prevent the use and sale of illicit drugs in schools /institutions and promote alternative activities to involvement in drugs.

“Others are to Increase the knowledge of members on the dangers associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and persuade those using drugs to seek help and equip students with necessary skills that will enable them to resist pressure to use drugs.

“These listed objectives can only be achieved through the execution of laudable activities that will promote drug-free lifestyles in educational institutions which will invariably enhance learning.

“The ambassadors, comprising of the academic and non-academic staff of the university, are to act as good role models to students by leading and living by example.

“The role of WADA Ambassadors is to supervise, encourage and support the club to ensure that the goals of the WADA campaign are achieved within the university community and its environs.

“We must be agents of change and the change we desire in others must start from us. We must use all of our talents to serve our country and fatherland.

“The Nigerian youth must be in the right state of physical and mental health as well as sound intellectual condition to adequately contribute to national development.

“The launch of the WADA Club is a significant gesture that the students, staff and indeed the entire community of the University of Abuja has joined in the campaign against drug abuse.”

Other speakers at the occasion included the representative of the minister of Education and Director Guardiance and Counselling Directorate, Mrs Okereke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, in charge of Administration, Professor Abubakar Sadeeq, the Representative of the National University Commission, Mr Odia and the Director, Counselling and Carrier Service Center, Prof. Mrs. Ojiha

Vanguard News Nigeria