By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The rate of consumption and trafficking of illicit drugs in secondary schools in Plateau State has become a serious concern to all relevant authorities.

Recently, a 13-year-old boy in a junior class who stabbed a colleague with a knife was discovered to be on some illicit drugs. Some students have been caught peddling drugs in some schools.

Between January 2022 to June 2022, the State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA confiscated almost three tons of illicit substances in Jos including narcotics, tramadol, cannabis Sativa, and others.

The sad situation is that many parents and teachers do not know what to look out for to detect early and salvage these young people who consume these substances.

To remedy the situation, an organization, Sumoda Training and Research Centre in collaboration with the State Ministry of Secondary Education partners with the State Command of the NDLEA to organize a day capacity building training on the identification, prevention, control, reintegration, and advocacy on drug abuse preventive education for secondary schools Principals and Guidance and Counselling Teachers in the State with the theme: “Towards drug-free secondary schools on the Plateau.”

The participants, drawn from public and private schools, were trained ahead of the 2022/2023 academic year, they are expected to step down the training to arrest the situation before it destroys the child.        

Lamenting the situation, Grace Goyol, Assistant Commander, Drug Demand Reduction Unit in the Plateau State Command of the NDLEA who represented the State Commander, Musa Yahuza at the event noted it is good for the participants to know the signs to look out for while dealing with cases of drug abuse.

She said, “This event couldn’t have come at a better time especially now that we have youths that abuse all sorts of drugs, it is very pertinent for the teachers, guidance, counselors, and principals to have an idea because, after the parents, they are responsible for molding the characters of these young people.

“The United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, UNODC, reported in 2018 that about 14.3 youths in Nigeria engage in abusing illicit drugs, aside from alcohol and cigarettes, many of them in secondary schools.

“In Plateau State, the situation is bad because from January to June 2022, the Command has confiscated almost three tons of illicit substances in Jos including narcotics, tramadol, cannabis Sativa, you name it which were meant for consumption. You can imagine if such quantity has found its way into circulation, you can imagine the level of destruction.

“In my Unit, we engage in creating awareness in public places on the dangers of these drugs, I think I am in a good position to let you know the prevalence of drug addiction. I give an example; I treated a 13-year-old boy that was taking drugs and stabbed someone in the leg. The thrust was so forceful that it broke the bone on the leg.

“I was in a Secondary school in the State whose name I will not mention but we got some students that were peddling drugs to other students. The case is bad, it is time for all of us to come together to fight this menace. We should stop stigmatizing because it makes people not want to speak out…”

The Commandant, NDLEA Training Academy, Hamza Umar said the workshop came at the right time concerning the challenges being faced by students “I see this event as a giant step to address the monster of drug abuse.”

The State Commissioner for Education (Secondary), Elizabeth Wapmuk represented by the Ministry’s Director of Administration, Soknan Gloria said the government is passionate in the fight against drug abuse in schools because almost every home in the State has a child engaging in drugs and “We expect that you will go back to your various schools to step down the knowledge gained to other teachers and students so that everybody would key into this fight.”

A participant who is also the State Chapter President, Annual Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools, ANCOPSS, James Dimlong stated, “The prevalence of drugs among secondary school students is high by experience and observation, you discover that lots of students are into drugs, some of them bought over the counter, inhalers used at homes.

“A lot of students abuse cannabis Sativa and roasted nails, they soak it overnight and drink it and it intoxicates, some sniff petrol, toilets, and the rest of them. We are trying our best to curb the menace because it is negatively affecting their output in school.”

Also, Joseph Nwoke, the National Executive Council member of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS stressed, “The training is very relevant, many parents don’t know that their children are into drugs, the teachers can help identify them. I will suggest that the teachers collaborate with the schools’ PTA to sensitize parents because the situation is so bad in addition to the level of indiscipline and poverty in society, many people don’t even know where their children are, and what they do. Everybody should be involved to curb the menace.”

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