Lagos State Government has expressed its readiness to collaborate with members of NDLEA Celebrity Drug-Free Club (NCDFC) and Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria, CRAN, to address the menace of drug abuse among students and youths across the State.
The State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Segun Dawodu disclosed this on Tuesday while welcoming the executives and members of the two bodies on a courtesy visit to his office at Alausa, Ikeja.
Dawodu, who received the visitors on behalf of the State Governor, Mr. Babjide Sanwo-Olu promised to incorporate the ideas and ideals of NCDFC and CRAN into its programmes, stressing that the endemic nature of the menace in recent times demands a combined force to nip it in the bud.
While noting that the Ministry was already working on a comprehensive and full drug awareness programme that would last for a whole year, the Commissioner declared that it is practically impossible for the government to shoulder the campaign alone without involving members of the public and some other relevant stakeholders.
In his words “Drug abuse is a reality that lives with us now, as much as we are making efforts as a government to change the narratives through adequate awareness programmes, yet we can’t do it alone, this is why the concern shown by NCDFC and CRAN is quite noble and must be commended”.
He noted the State government’s awareness of the dangers posed by drug abuse to the attainment of its programmes, plans and policies, saying the Ministry is tackling the menace headlong through youth engagements, empowerment and job creation to address youth restiveness and aggressive behaviour.
He maintained that the determination of the State government to curb drug abuse made the Ministry initiate a campaign tagged ‘LASKADA’ (Lagos State Kicks Against Drug Abuse) to further raise awareness about drug problems and also assist its victims.
Dawodu, however, appealed to NCDFC and CRAN to use their influence as role models and opinion influencers among the youth population to help re-direct the minds of the youth to a more noble and profitable path.
“I want to appeal to you as influencers in your own rights to use your position to influence these younger ones positively. Some of you have a greater influence on our youth even more than a State Governor, so, the onus is on you not to encourage the use of drugs among youth wittingly or unwittingly”, the Commissioner appealed.
Responding, the National Coordinator of NCDFC, Ighodalo Wilson and the President of CRAN, Odita Sunday both disclosed that the two NGOs would be staging a One-Million-Man Match against Drug Abuse and Mental Health with the theme: “Breaking the Silence and Stigma” on the 30th and 31st October, 2019 with the aim of creating awareness on drugs and substance abuse in Lagos.
The team, whose campaign message is “Drug-Free Lagos for A Greater Lagos”, lamented the uncoordinated manner which these drugs are sold at every corner across the State without any restraint.
An official of NDLEA Celebrity Drug-Free Club (NCDFC), Gbenga Adeyinka, who is also a multi-award-winning Nigerian actor and comedian, stated the belief of the members of the celebrity club that once Lagos State can successively tame the monster of drug abuse, the entire country would be sanitised and free of the menace.
He said, “If you tackle a problem in Lagos, then you would have tackled it nationally, that is why we are calling on the Lagos State Government to be responsive to emerging major drug challenges within the society”.
“We know that the fight is huge and must be collectively fought using multi-dimensional mass awareness campaigns because the affected persons are our children and as such we all should show concern”, he added.