By Sola Ogundipe
TOWARDS curbing the rising rate of substance abuse in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, under the Anti Substance Abuse Programme, ASAP, led a multi sectoral roundtable on the substance abuse ecosystem in Nigeria and the need for intensified collaborative action.
The forum, which held in Lagos, was part of the Lagos state activations of the ASAP aimed at reducing the incidence of substance abuse specifically among youth in Nigeria. Speaking at the forum, the Chairman, MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, explained that the purpose is to stimulate discourse among thought leaders, policy makers and leaders from different walks of life.
“It’s to bring us much closer towards our goal of freeing our future leaders from the evil attraction of drugs and possible addiction to opioids.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, who was also present, opined that education about substance abuse was essential.
“We all can take time to educate ourselves and others about the harmful nature of these substances. Education on the impact that these drug and substances of abuse have on the individual and the society as a whole should be taught and understood.”
To the youths, the State Commissioner for Youth & Social Development, Mr. Agboola Dabiri stated: “You are the future of Nigeria; you have a lot to give. When we speak of the next level, you are the next level. ”
The issue of drug abuse is no longer on the roads; it is now within our homes. I thank MTN for this opportunity and I commend them for a job well done,
“ he stated. The State activations, which started with various activities in primary and secondary schools, motor parks, and markets, will continue with an advocacy walk that will culminate in counselling sessions for all interested persons.
It was gathered that a replication of all the activities under the ASAP initiative will be carried out in Imo, Rivers, Kano and Bauchi State as well as in Abuja.
The overall objective is to take the ASAP initiative to the streets of Nigeria and meet the youth in their comfort zones, as part of MTN Nigeria’s CSR objective of improving the quality of life.
Also in attendance was Mr. Dennis Okoro, Director MTN Foundation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, the Nigeria Police Force, the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) and a host of others.
MTN Nigeria continues to fulfill its CSR objective of improving the quality of life with various projects such as the What Can We Do Together Campaign, ICT and Business Skills training, upgrading of Sickle Cell and DNA laboratories and consistent support for arts and culture in Nigeria.