Tinubu Pledges To Support NDLEA, Others In Anti-Drug War


President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, in Abuja, said his administration would work closely with the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency and its international partners to fight the menace of drug abuse.

He urged stakeholders to take a people-centered approach in addressing drug addiction, saying addicts are also humans who deserve understanding and support to recover from the downward path of drugs.

“I want to assure everyone including our local and international partners this administration’s unwavering support…for the sustenance of drug control efforts”

Tinubu said in his opening address at the national conference to mark this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, at the State House, Abuja.

The President who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, said interventions to address drug use and its associated consequences must recognise the individual and address the social stigma that comes with the menace.

Speaking of persons struggling with drug abuse, he said, “These groups often face barriers in accessing the health care 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 individual. Stigma, both social and structural, which is one of the most common barriers to access support and services must be removed.”

He urged stakeholders to educate themselves and others on the dangers of drug abuse and the need to stop stigma and discrimination.

“We must empower our youth with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their lives and the resources they need to avoid falling prey to drugs,” Tinubu said.

On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, stressed the need for empathy for persons struggling with drug abuse, saying that addiction is not a death sentence.

Represented by his deputy, Benjamin Kalu, he expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to support all Federal Government policies that engender gainful engagements of Nigerians, especially the youths prone to drug abuse.

The Chairman of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, Buba Marwa, said the stigmatisation of persons struggling with drug abuse is a major impediment to their rehabilitation process.

He argued that such persons deserve the understanding of the rest of society to encourage them to seek help and access recovery support systems.

“They are human beings with inherent dignity, deserving of understanding, empathy, and support…Our prejudices hinder their access to healthcare, employment and social support systems.

“Hence, we must work to break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help and foster an environment where they feel safe, respected, and encouraged to access the necessary treatments and interventions,” Marwa said.

On his part, the Chairman of the MTN Foundation, Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said profiling persons struggling with drug abuse as criminals complicate their path to recovery.

He said such profiling exposes them to treatments that skew their access to social support systems to aid their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Adelusi-Adeluyi, represented by the Director of the Foundation, Dennis Okoro, said, “Why we brought some of these organizations in is to reduce the stigmatisation of youths caught with drugs. We should stop making them criminals ab initio. And for me, they are not.”

He explained that sending addicts to correctional centers makes them feel further rejected and may likely become hardened by other elements they encounter in cells.

“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 who have had tension and emotional disturbance from bad homes or neglect, and rehabilitate them with love,” he advised.

A Director at the MTN Foundation, Reginald Okeya, explained that the Telecom giant became involved in the anti-drug fight when cases of drug-induced mental illness became prominent nationwide.

He said although cases of drug abuse persist nationwide, “a lot of Nigerians have come to know and hear about drug abuse,” he noted.

The theme for the 2023 commemoration is People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.

Present were Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume; Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Oliver Stolpe; Speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu; Solicitor General of the Federation, Beatrice Jedy-Agba; Representative of the Chairman of the MTN Foundation, Dennis Okoro and Former Inspector-General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo.


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