Tackling substance abuse in Lagos - The Gallant News


Tuesday 31 August 2021

Tackling substance abuse in Lagos

 Tackling substance abuse in Lagos


The Lagos State House of Assembly has taken steps to identify the root cause of rising drug abuse, especially among youths, and proffer ways out, reports Oyebola Owolabi.

Drug abuse is on the rise, especially among youths. Parents, guardians, religious leaders, and the government are worried.

Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly believe it is time steps were taken to curb the menace so youths can live a life of meaning.

At the seventh annual constituency stakeholders’ meeting, the lawmakers called for unified action to stem the tide. According to them, the war would be won if a communal approach was adopted to fight the menace.

The theme of the constituency stakeholders’ meeting was ‘Increasing Wave of Drug Abuse: A threat to Nation-Building’, and it held simultaneously in the 40 constituencies of Lagos State.

Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, who represents Agege I, warned that drug abuse must be urgently checked to prevent its devastating effects on the country’s growth and progress.

Obasa described drug abuse “as the use of illicit drugs, prescription or over-the-counter drugs for wrong medical purposes, or when it is used in excessive amounts that are harmful to the individual ad others. Such substances include cannabis and prescription opioids, such as tramadol, codeine, tranquilisers, while various mixtures are being experimented with leading to the discovery novel psychotropic substances such as ‘Monkey Tail, Skoochies, Revlon, Colorado, Sinol, SK, 542, Loud, Rush, Paw-Paw A, Banku, among others”.

He added: “The use and abuse of drugs is fast becoming prevalent among adults, and especially among the youths. Drug abuse has been identified to have diverse and devastating effects on the safety and progress of the society.

“Apart from its negative social effects, such as crime, disruption of the family, child abuse and neglect, unemployment, it has been associated with some other criminal behaviours, such as gangsterism, cultism, armed robbery, rape and others.

“There are also the economic and health effects, such as loss of job, dropping out of school, stealing and complicated health issues. All these can have far-reaching consequences on both government spending and public safety.

“It is not also far-fetched to draw a conclusion between drug abuse and the vicious attack and wanton destruction of lives and property by some people during the #EndSARS protest in 2020. This crisis left properties in ruins, particularly in Lagos. We have also heard about the menace of some youths in some parts of the state terrorising their communities.”

The House is,  however, not resting on its oars in ensuring that drug abuse is reduced to the barest minimum, in the least. This, it is doing with its constitutional role of enacting laws favourable to the state and its people.

According to Obasa, the House has been at the forefront of the fight against drug abuse through various legislations, and would keep passing vital laws to fight the menace.

He said: “The Lagos State House of Assembly has always taken matters affecting residents, and especially the youths, very passionately. The House has continued to be proactive in the consideration of viable laws and policies that would enhance youth potentials and development.

“Some of the recent laws that were passed attest to government’s efforts on this matter. Such laws include the law to amend the Lagos State Sports Commission law of 2015 to promote youth and sports development in Lagos and for connected purposes.

“The law will ensure that youths are provided with great opportunities, not only in recreation, but where they can nurture, explore and utilise their potentials in sporting activities to become professional sportsmen and women. This would also take the minds of many of them off drug abuse and criminal activities.”

The speaker listed other youth-oriented bills considered by the House to include two recent ones for the establishment of a University of Education, and another for the establishment of a University of Science and Technology, to address the inadequacies in polytechnic education in Nigeria.

“While the passage of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps is aimed at ensuring the safety of all in our neighbourhood, the prevalence of drug abuse among adults and youths, if not effectively addressed and curbed, will jeopardise the entire efforts of the House in the establishment of a safe, peaceful, and livable society.

“Consequently, we call on all stakeholders – residents, parents, teachers, students, school proprietors, religious organisations, celebrities, social media influencers, professional bodies, the academia, civil society organisations and community leaders to work in concert with the government for the common good of our society by saying no to drug abuse and trafficking.”

The Chairman of Agege Local Government Area, Ganiyu Egunjobi, lamented that drug abuse had become so alarming that the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), recommended tests for public office holders, intending couples and admission seekers.

“If we continue in this manner and fail to salvage the situation, in no distant future, there would be an increase in the population of persons with drug abuse-induced health problems,” he warned.

Stakeholders praised Obasa for the projects he attracted to the constituency, especially the Pen Cinema Bridge. They, however, asked for more pedestrian bridges and regular stakeholders’ meeting. They also emphasised the need to effectively curb drug abuse, with the clergy promising to carry the campaign to their worship centres.

Obasa also promised to work on their requests to serve them better.

Adedamola Kasunmu, who represents Ikeja II, said the fight against drug abuse must continue for as long as humanity exists because the menace keeps getting stronger.

“We must fight this fight, though it is not limited to the schools and teachers, but also involves the government and parents. We have to ensure our students commit themselves to the development of their capacity to enhance their further growth and contribution to nation-building as a whole,” he said.

The lawmaker also advocated for the revision of the school syllabus to include studies on drug abuse so students can get acquainted with it early in life.

He added: “It should have been included in the syllabus of the Citizenship Education, Civic Studies, and Social Studies. The education ministry has to do more to broaden the horizon and scope of the syllabus. The old curriculum that is being used has to be modified, redefined and re-analysed towards the direction that would encapsulate the ideologies behind anti-crime, anti-drug abuse and other issues affecting the youths.

“The situation requires that all hands must be on deck to ensure that educational institutions are equipped with the capacity to further develop strategies to end this menace called drug abuse. We are losing lives; we are losing the future, bright promising future to drug abuse. It is sad that this menace has eaten deep as low as being prevalent even in primary schools; this is the time to go back to the drawing board and protect the future; the interest in our children/youths is the interest of the development of this nation for the future.”

The lawmaker, who lamented the prevalence of black spots across his Ikeja II constituency, urged parents to tackle the issue frontally from the home front. He also promised to check the ugly trend with youthful engagements and empowerment.

He added: “Black spots are springing up everywhere at a frightening rate in Ikeja and Ojodu, but we will do our best to check the ugly trend. I will do series of engagement targeted at addressing these problems, such as facilitating vocational training and empowerment for the youths to help shift their focus.

“Ipodo, which has suddenly become a drug and substance abuse spot, will be restructured to make it inhabitable for miscreants.

“It is also a problem of leadership and delineation, and so we will have to sit with the leadership and restrategise on ways to make the community look better and get more developed. I had already done some anti-drug campaigns in various schools within the constituency before now, and it is a battle that we must continue to fight because the interest in narcotic and substance abuse is now getting stronger than it used to be.”

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