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Tinubu speaks on new measures on drug abuse 

... back from foreign trip

CITIZENS COMPASS – PRESIDENT Bola Ahmed Tinubu has warned against the social and structural stigmatization of drug use victims.

According to him, this prevents the victims from accessing needed care and support.

The President spoke as chairman of MTN Foundation,  Julius Adelusi- Adeluyi, advised that the issue of drug abuse be tackled as a national emergency.

Speaking on the occasion of the celebration of the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit  Trafficking at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Tinubu expressed his endorsement of the theme of the celebration which is “People First: Stop Stigma  and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.”

He said the theme stressed the theme stressed the imperative to  prioritize the well-being and dignity of individuals affected by drug abuse,  recognize their inherent worth and the importance of providing them  with effective prevention and  treatment interventions.

He said:  “We could not  agree less with the importance of this theme now that the most  vulnerable population, especially women, young people, people living in  marginalized environments, high-risk  drug users, people displaced by  armed conflicts or natural disasters and  people in rural settings, are  exposed to stigma,  discrimination and exclusion from  mainstream  opportunities.

“These groups often face barriers in accessing the healthcare and social services within the society in addressing their drug use  problems.  ‘’Therefore, interventions to address drug use and its associated  consequences  need to be mindful of the fundamental  rights of every  individual.

“Stigma both social and structural, which  continues to affect  people who use drugs and implicated as one of the most common  barriers to access support and services must be removed.”

The president noted that educating the citizenry  on the dangers of drug abuse and the need to stop stigma and  discrimination were crucial, calling for support for those affected. 

He added: “We must empower our youth with the knowledge and  skills they need to make informed decisions about their  lives, and provide  victims to drug abuse with the resources they need to avoid falling  victims of drug abuse.

We must also support those who are struggling with drug addiction, and provide them with treatment and necessary support they need to overcome their addiction.

“In the face of these challenges, it is imperative that we adopt a  people-centered approach that focuses on prevention  and treatment as key pillars of our response.”

Tinubu reaffirmed his administration’s commitment  to combating drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking, assuring: “We will tackle the drug  menace and its associated consequences in  all forms.”

He urged governments, international organizations, and civil  stakeholders to take urgent actions  to protect  society, and all  people by tackling the  problem of illicit supply and abuse of drugs, to help raise consciousness of  the threats it posed to the society.

Also speaking, speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, stressed the need for empathy for drug use victims, saying addiction was not a death sentence.

The speaker, who was represented by his deputy, Benjamin Kalu, expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to support all Federal Government’s policies that engendered gainful engagements of Nigerians, especially the youths, prone to drug abuse.

He advised that  the treatment of drug abusers and their families with empathy, respect and dignity should be ingrained in the strategic approach to the ongoing fight.

“Drug addiction on its own is not a death sentence. Therefore, members of the society who are battling drug addiction deserve our support and encouragement to enable them to overcome the addiction,” the Speaker sated.

Chairman of MTN Foundation, Julius Adelusi-Adelujyi, described the scourge of substance abuse as “ a clear and present danger, more so as the statistics indicate that a staggering number of people are caught in its snare, “

The MTN Foundation chairman, who was represented by a Director in the firm, Dennis Okoro, said: “ We must tackle this as a situation of national emergency; deploying the use of policy and partnerships as a strategy to contain this scourge.

“Distinguished guests, as a matter of urgency, we must scale up this fight against illicit drug use so we can, in the shortest possible time, have a nation free from drug abuse. The event ends today, but the conversation must continue.

“Moreover, why we brought some of these organizations in is to reduce the stigmatization of youths caught with drugs. We should stop making them criminals ab initio. And for me, they are not.  

“When you get them and then treat them like the youths and send them to a correctional centre or prison, they feel further rejected and then anybody within that environment can corrupt them more, and they become never cured.

“So the message is that these are youths, they are children. Treat them like your own children. Give them a human face. See them as children. Give them a human face. See them as children who have had tension and emotional disturbance from bad homes or neglect and rehabilitate them with love.”

Mr. Reginald Okeya, a director with MTN Foundation speaking on the interest in drug abuse said, “Our interest rose when we started seeing images and videos. When we started noticing the the rate at which mental cases were beginning to come up in society and most of the cases are attributed to the use of drugs.

Meanwhile, many supporters of the President on Tuesday, thronging the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to welcome him back home after his first official visit out of the country as the number one citizen of Nigeria.

Recall that President Tinubu travelled out of the country a week ago to France for the summit for ‘A New Global Financing Pact’ hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris.


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