The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said recent statistics have revealed that 40 per cent of Nigerian youth between 18 and 35 years are deeply involved in the abuse of drugs.
Atinuke Aduloju, the chief superintendent of narcotics, NDLEA, made the disclosure during the 7th Annual Constituency Stakeholders’ Meeting held at the Ojo Constituency 1, Lagos on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of this year’s meeting is: “Increasing Wave of Drug Abuse, A Threat to Nation Building.”
Mrs Aduloju said the statistic was worrisome and showed that the problem had reached an epidemic level in the country.
She added that the rate at which youths were becoming addicted to illicit drugs had reached an alarming state.
“What will the country be like if 40 per cent of our underage youths are already into drug abuse and drug trafficking.
“The prevalence of drug abuse in Nigeria and the negative impact on public health and safety necessitate that all hands must be on deck to curtail the challenge in our country.
“There is no better time than now for all relevant stakeholders to rise up and join the crusade the NDLEA is leading to make our country a better and safer nation, especially for the youths who are the leaders of tomorrow,” she added.
The official said the agency was presently undertaking sensitisation on drug abuse and its consequences in tertiary institutions.
Mr Aduloju, who did not disclose the source of her figures, said the agency had embarked on medical evaluation, counseling, and rehabilitation of youths that abuse drugs.
According to her, the agency has also started research programmes to monitor and proffer solutions on the trend of abuse among adolescents, arrest and prosecute drug offenders.
She said schools, communities, voluntary organisations, and religious bodies should also embark on drug abuse treatment and prevention.
A medical practitioner, Nseabasi Ekanem, blamed poor parenting for the increasing wave of drug abuse in the country.
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Mr Ekanem said the rate at which youths were becoming addicted to illicit drugs had reached an alarming rate, adding that it could only be addressed if parents pay more attention to their children.
He said drug abuse was not beneficial in any way, but rather cause severe damage to the body system.
The member representing Ojo 1, in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Victor Akande, said the focus of the event was to sensitise parents, teachers, and religious leaders on the disturbing trend of drug abuse in the state.
Mr Akande, who is also the chairman, committee on judiciary, public petition, and LASIEC, said the Lagos Assembly had passed various resolutions on the need to curb the sale and consumption of hazardous drugs and substances.
The lawmaker noted that the youths as future leaders must show concern to their welfare.