By Eromosele Emmanuel
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, Abeokuta and Continental Europe Chapters, organised a sensitisation visit to schools in Abeokuta to mark the 2023 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The schools visited were Abeokuta Grammar School Idi-Aba and Baptist Boys’High School Oke Saje. The event was organised in light of the growing concern about the alarming increase of illicit substances consumption and abuse among in-school youths, out of school youths alike, and even the relatively older ones. A high percentage of Nigerian youths are at risk with an estimated figure of over 11% of the youths said to consume substances like syrup, cannabis, tramadol, diazepam, cocaine, shisha mix, alcohol among others. Drug abuse is often linked to drug use disorders, mental illness, high crime rate, high rate of sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS, and ‘’many debilitating conditions like schizophrenia and psychosis, leading to psychiatric admissions’’. “Drugs can eventually change how the brain works and interfere with a person’s ability to make choices. In fact, many criminal offences such as theft, burglary, cultism, murder, kidnapping, sex work, terrorism and banditry have been greatly attributed to drug abuse”.
The programme which was also partnered by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Ogun State Command, had in attendance two Principal Staff Officers, Drug Demand Reduction Units, NDLEA Ogun State Command, Mrs Oluseyi Morakinyo and Mr Frank Nwaohamuo. Addressing the students, the NDLEA officials sensitised the students about the dangers inherent in drug abuse. Mrs Morakinyo advised the students to focus on their studies; adding that, drugs have the potential to cut short their lives and destroy their future if they indulge in it. They further stressed that 95% of mentally deranged cases may be connected to substance abuse. Mr Frank said that people should stop discrimination against victims of drug abuse. He added that stigmatisation does not help the situation of such victims, instead they need support, care and love. They further stated that drug abuse victims need counselling and treatment.
The NDLEA representatives noted that parents, teachers, communities, government and all stakeholders have important roles to play if they must put an end to the menace of drug abuse among students and secure the future of the country. They equally advised all to look out for signs of drug abuse by children and individuals around them. Among such signs include an outspoken child becoming suddenly withdrawn, a quite child suddenly becoming talkative, dry lips, bloodshot and watery eyes, among others. They also said that the drug dealers are the most dangerous people on earth and not the users. This is because they do not use but make it available to others thereby destroying the users’ future. They, therefore, appeal for concerted efforts to ensure the arrest and prosecution of these traffickers and dealers.
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, is nonprofit, nongovernmental, nonreligious and detribalised group which believes in identifying and fighting against the ills millitating against the attainment of a just and egalitarian society where no one is treated on the bases of any biases, be it gender, tribe, religion and so on. It adopts such strategies as advocacy, public discourses, researches, humanitarian gestures and litigations. The group is registered with the Nigerian government, through the Cooperate Affairs Commission.
The global observance is to raise awareness of the major problem that drug abuse and illicit drugs pose for society. It is aimed at strengthening action and cooperation in achieving a world free of drug abuse. The day calls for unity in the fight against illicit drugs; individuals, entire communities, organizations, educational institutions, faith-based institutions and governments all over the world are enjoined to join in the fight to eradicate the scourge of drug abuse and illicit trafficking. We are all stakeholders; therefore, we should ensure actions to protect people, including the vulnerable especially children, women and youths, including ‘’strengthening drug use prevention and treatment, and by tackling illicit drug supply’’. The observance encourages other practical solutions like encouraging researches which will provide facts, data and practical solutions which may prove invaluable in combating the scourge.
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, Abeokuta and Continental Europe Chapters, as part of the programme of activities to mark the event, also hoisted a billboard message condemning drug abuse and espousing drug abuse prevention, at Onikolobo facing traffic from Mapoly, in front of MacJob Grammar School.