Governor Sanwo-Olu charges young Nigerians to stop drug abuse

Sanwo-Olu stated that stakeholders should pledge to work together, innovate continuously and remain steadfast in the nation to break the cycle of drug abuse.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

The governor made the call at the MTN Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (MTN ASAP) stakeholders’ conference in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the programme is to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with the theme: “Evidence is Clear, Invest in Prevention”.

The governor was represented by the Commissioner of Youths and Social Development, Mobolaji Ogunlende. Sanwo-Olu in his address said that stakeholders should pledge to work together, innovate continuously and remain steadfast in the nation to break the cycle of drug abuse.

He said that together all could transform the lives of the youth, ensuring that they grew up in an environment that nurtured their dreams and aspirations.

According to him, today’s conference is a testament to the power of collaboration by sharing insights and best practices that can be developed for a more effective solution and to amplify their word.

"As we continue on this international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, let us remember that collective effort will shape the future of our nation, each one of us has a role to play in creating a drug-free society.

"The fight against drug abuse is not one that can be fought by government alone. It requires concerted efforts by all sectors of society – parents, educators, healthcare professionals, community leaders, the private sector and yourself sitting in this room.

"The MTN Foundation leadership in this endeavour exemplifies the type of Corporate Social Responsibility that is essential for meaningful change.

“This conference will be a catalyst for renewed energy and collaboration in our fight, our collective fight, our unified fight against drug abuse,’’ he said.

Sanwo-Olu commended MTN Nigeria, which through its MTN Foundation and collaboration with stakeholders aimed at reducing the rate of first-time substance abuse among young Nigerians aged between 10 years and 25 years.

According to him, the intervention hinges on awareness creation, information dissemination, stakeholders’ engagement and empowerment.

"I thank you for keeping a step in our administration to ensure that our goal of building a greater Lagos is realised. Today we stand united to confront this menace that threatens the very essence of our society,” he stated.

The governor noted that the approach by Lagos State was multidimensional; first, being emphasised education, awareness and integrating comprehensive drug education programmes in schools and community centres.

According to him, there is a need to inform youths about the dangers of drug abuse and empowerment. He said that secondly was strengthening the health and rehabilitation centres, investing in rehabilitation centres and training professionals on support and treatment to those affected.

Sanwo-Olu said that the third was fostering a culture of support and inclusivity through community engagement and youth empowerment initiatives. He urged the creation of an environment where young people could thrive, fight pressure and build resilience against substance abuse.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of the MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said that MTN ASAP had been on for five years, adding that every nation had come out to tackle its citizens’ attitude to drug abuse in its way.

Adelusi-Adeluyi said that the foundation had been at the forefront of addressing the issue from time to time, and despite the efforts being made, the problem persisted. He said that the challenge was to ensure that the environment did not drive people back to drugs.

“I am pleased on behalf of the foundation to support the programme and appreciate the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for consistently being with us,’’ the chairman stated.

The Chairman of NDLEA, Col. Buba Marwa, in his goodwill message, appreciated the MTN Foundation’s efforts in the fight against drug abuse, saying he was particularly happy about the partnership. Marwa was represented by Dr Segun Oke, Assistant Commander-General, Narcotics, NDLEA.

The Deputy Country Representative of UNODC, Damilo Campisi, in his address, said that Nigeria must invest heavily in the prevention of drug abuse.

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