The First Lady, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu has charged state governments to prioritise the fight against substance abuse in their strategic work plans for a safe and secure society.
Sen. Tinubu made the call at the opening ceremony of a two-day training on Drug Prevention Treatment and Care (DPTC), for spouses of state governors, on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training was organised by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Sen. Tinubu, who was the special guest of honour, tasked the states to see the war against the drug menace as a collective effort and responsibility.
The First Lady, represented by the wife of Inspector General of Police, Mrs Elizabeth Egbetokun, commended Marwa and the Nigerian Governors’ Spouses Forum for the initiative.
“I want to commend the NDLEA under the leadership of retired Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa for organising this vital training and for your ongoing efforts in combatting drug abuse in Nigeria,” she added.
According to her, Nigerians 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.
“The role of Governors’ spouses in combating drug abuse cannot be overstated. Through advocacy, we can ensure access to prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services for those affected by addiction,” she said.
Sen. Tinubu therefore urged the Governor’s wives to ensure that the efforts did not end with the training.
“We must translate knowledge into action, collaborating with stakeholders such as NDLEA, other government agencies, civil society organisations, healthcare providers, educators, and students.
“Together, we can implement evidence-based strategies for prevention, early intervention, and holistic treatment approaches,” she said.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, in his remarks, commended the resourcefulness of the NDLEA leadership in utilising the Forum to cascade the drug war to the grassroots.
“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 recognised,” he said.
Earlier, Marwa said the devastating effects of substance abuse on public health and environment and its nexus with insecurity, made it mandatory for a whole-of -society approach to curb the scourge.
He said that this had been the focus of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy campaign emplaced by the NDLEA since 2021.
The NDLEA chairman, therefore, urged the governors’ wives to take advantage of their positions to mobilise support for drug prevention and treatment in their states.
“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.
Marwa said as part of efforts to curb the cultivation and production of illicit drugs in Nigeria, the Agency has been adopting alternative plans to encourage those cultivating cannabis to switch to other licit crops.
”I’ll 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 a reality – our alternative development plan – one of your takeaways, for the immediate consideration and support of our governors.,” the NDLEA boss added.
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 News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the UNODC Country Representative, Dr Oliver Stolpe; Representative of European Union, Letizia Torretta and the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr Gambo Aliyu, also spoke at the event.
They called for collective efforts across society to curb the menace of drug abuse.