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BREAKING: Oluremi Tinubu, Fagbemi, Marwa charge states on drug use prevention, treatment

Major stakeholders including First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu; Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN); and the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig-Gen. Mohamed Marwa (Rtd), have charged state governments to prioritise the fight against drug use and substance abuse in their strategic work plans for a safe and secure society.

The charge was given at the opening ceremony of a two-day training on Drug Prevention Treatment and Care (DPTC) organized by the NDLEA for spouses of state governors in Abuja on Monday.

In her keynote address at the event, Senator Tinubu who was the special guest of honour, told state governments to see the war against drug menace as a collective effort.

Represented by wife of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mrs. Elizabeth Egbetokun, the first lady commended Marwa and the Nigerian Governors’ Spouses Forum for organizing the training and his efforts in combating drug abuse in the country.

“I equally commend the Chairperson of the Nigeria Governors Spouses’ Forum, Her Excellency, Ambassador (Dr.) Olufolake Abdulrazaq for this significant collaboration. We must recognise that drug abuse is not just a law enforcement issue but a public health crisis that requires a compassionate and multi-faceted response.

“We must challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with addiction, and foster a culture of empathy, understanding and solidarity towards those struggling with substance use disorders.

“As mothers, we understand the profound impact that drug abuse can have on our children’s lives. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to protect, nurture, and guide them towards a future free from the shackles of addiction. As leaders in your respective states, you wield a unique platform to drive meaningful change”, she said.

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While noting that the role of Governors’ spouses in combating drug abuse cannot be overstated, the first lady said, “Through advocacy, we can ensure access to prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services for those affected by addiction.

“However, our efforts must not end with this training. We must translate knowledge into action, collaborating with stakeholders such as the NDLEA, other government agencies, civil society organizations, healthcare providers, educators, and students. Together, we can implement evidence-based strategies for prevention, early intervention, and holistic treatment approaches.”

In his remarks, the AGF and Minister of Justice commended the resourcefulness of the NDLEA leadership in utilising the Nigerian Governors’ Spouses Forum to cascade the drug war into the grassroots and the community level.

In his words, “The issue of drug use is not confined to any region or social strata, but affects every corner of our nation, and propagates crime and other criminalities across the world. The critical role of the attendees in shaping policies and practices in the communities is therefore recognized”.

He applauded the NDLEA boss for organising the programme now that the country is facing security challenges and said, all hands must be on the deck in the fight against illicit drugs in the country.

Fagbemi urged the wives of state governors to leverage their influence in ensuring that the drug fight is given adequate priority in their various states.

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The NDLEA boss, while giving his remarks, said the devastating effects of substance abuse on public health, the environment and its nexus with the spate of insecurity faced across the country has made it mandatory for a whole-of-society approach to curb the scourge.

While urging the governors’ wives to take advantage of their positions to mobilise support for drug prevention and treatment in their states, Marwa said, “Our Commanders and officers in your states are always available to work with you and the governors; please create the needed access for them so that they can serve you and the society better. Together, we can effect meaningful change and create healthier, safer communities for all.

“Your collective effort can become the biggest catalyst for the nation to triumph over the illicit drug challenge”, he said and added that, as part of efforts to curb cultivation and production of illicit drugs in Nigeria, the Agency is adopting an alternative development plan that will encourage cannabis farmers to switch to other licit crops.

“I will also like to draw your attention to the devastating impact activities of drug cartels involved in illicit drug cultivation are causing humanity; that is deforestation, which results in environmental degradation. In search of a lasting solution, we are working to implement an alternative development plan.

“This will provide cannabis farmers with better options, like switching to other crops. I have recently set up an Alternative Development Unit in my office. We need you to make this reality and our alternative development plan one of your takeaways for the immediate consideration and support of our governors. We will keep you posted as we flesh out the plan on this, this year”, the NDLEA boss stated.

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He said by joining forces and working collaboratively, “we can turn the tide against drug abuse and build a brighter, healthier future for generations to come. Together we can do it.”

The Minister of Education, Prof Tahir Mamman (SAN) represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Didi Esther Walson-Jack emphasised the pivotal role of first ladies in the fight against the scourge of substance abuse.

The minister assured of collaboration between his ministry and the NDLEA in combating substance abuse among students, pointing out that, “The curriculum in schools has been updated to include the added spice of drug issues with the necessary knowledge to avoid drug use. Drug free clubs in federal unity colleges enable children to make healthier choices”.

Other speakers at the opening ceremony, the UNODC Country Representative, Dr. Oliver Stolpe; Representative of the European Union, Letizia Torretta and the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu spoke in same light, calling for collective and collaborative efforts across society to curb the menace of drug abuse.

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