Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari has cautioned celebrities, political leaders and key opinion leaders to be wary of the dangers of substance abuse and abstain from promoting activities and contents that suggest the abuse of drugs as an acceptable practice.
She issued the warning on Tuesday in her remarks as the Special Guest of Honour at the third annual conference of the National Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals (ISSUP) Nigerian Chapter, held in Abuja.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Substance Abuse: Re-awakening Nigerians to Its Reality,’ Buhari, who was represented by a former First Lady of Nasarawa State, Mrs. Mairo Al-Makura, urged stakeholders to create the needed environment that enabled productivity and job opportunities in order to effectively engage young ones and set them on a part towards prosperity.
The first lady stated that her office had been leading the campaign against substance abuse, including other forms of abuse that seek to destroy the very fabrics of society.
She asked well-meaning Nigerians to support the campaign against drug abuse and also join to create awareness of the health and socio-economic consequences of substance abuse.
“We must continue to recognise that drug abuse is a public health problem not necessarily a criminal justice problem. Decriminalising drug use while implementing strict laws on drug trafficking is the way to go. The increasing cases of drug abuse has always been a source of great concern to me. Drug abuse hurts relationships, families, and communities,” Buhari said.
She said Nigeria cannot afford to keep losing its teeming youth to such a menace and expect the younger generation to provide quality leadership and excel in innovative enterprises that will advance our society for the better.
She called on all parents across the country to support and promote the implementation of policies and programme that focus on strengthening strong family values that represent the moral foundation needed to nurture children through proper parental guidance, attending to their needs and guiding them properly to adulthood.
She also asked lawmakers to recognise that decriminalising drug use while enacting stricter sanctions on drug dealers will go a long way to increase access to treatment for many drug users in need of medical attention.
The first lady proposed the creation of an environment that discourages people from seeing drug abuse as an alternative or as a solution, while asking stakeholders to continue to call for the provision of quality and affordable free education at an early age to at least secondary school level for every child.
In his welcome address, the National President ISSUP, Dr Martin Agwogie reiterated the body’s no to cannabis legalization stance in Nigeria in order not to complicate an already bad situation.
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja