Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd.) has urged government and the private sector to join efforts to curb the growing menace of drug abuse among youths.
He made the call in Abuja at the National Youth Conference on Drugs organised by National Alliance Against Drug Abuse (NAADA).
In an address delivered on his behalf by his son, Mr Ibrahim Gowon, the former head of state said statistics of drug use among youths had become disturbing.
He described the abuse of prescriptive medicines as most worrisome.
He added that “latest statistics from National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are frightening. This sensitisation initiative will however provide light at the end of the tunnel.
“We should appeal to the Federal Government, the private sector, Civil Society Organisations, religious and traditional institutions to combine efforts in raising awareness about the ills of drug abuse.
“The problem is no longer restricted to hard drugs, it now involves medicinal drugs like codeine, that can easily be purchased at the counter. This is a huge menace.
“Drug abuse not only kills, it destroys lives, not just of the individual, but of people around the person involved.”
Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) said drug abuse had become a major public health problem in the country.
In a speech delivered on his behalf by Mrs Matina Nwodu, PACEDA member, Marwa said that Lagos State and the North West topped the list in the prevalence chart of drug abuse in the country.
He said the mandate of PACEDA is to get remedial and sustainable solutions to the menace.
He noted that “in the past, Nigeria was a mere transit country, but today, Nigeria is recognised internationally as a user nation.”
He, therefore, stressed the need for collaborative efforts by government, CSOs, religious traditional leaders, toward tackling the menace.