The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has stated that one in four drug users in the country is a woman.
NDLEA/chief executive officer, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (rtd), made the unveiling Thursday in Benin City, the capital of Edo state, during the second edition of the Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament (BOWFT) themed: “Say No to drugs”.
Marwa, who was represented by his special adviser, Otunba Lanre Ipinmisho, noted that the focus on girls and young women was strategic in curbing the rising trend of drug abuse among Nigerians.
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According to him, a currently conducted national survey had found that 14.3 million Nigerians, most of them predominantly young people, were using drugs, adding that the country had an exceptionally high drug prevalence of 14.4 percent.
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki declared the program open, but noted that ongoing union action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had exacerbated the number of drug abuse cases in the state.
The governor noted that an investigation conducted in the state showed that drug abuse had taken on a new dimension and, secondly after kidnapping, in the assessment of social vices.
According to him, drug abuse is a crisis that the state has taken upon itself to address the call for collective action.
“It is a crisis, not only here, but also worldwide. That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to call for collective action among various stakeholders to forge a common font to tackle the problem of drug abuse.
“The ill effects of drug abuse have robbed many young people of their lives, condemning them to a life dependent on drugs.
“This limits their ability to function properly in our society and deprives society of much-needed human capital to boost productivity and economic growth.
“In sports, drug use has remained a concern as athletes lose individual and group medals and awards as a result of drug-related offences.
“It is a global problem that still plays a role in our sports competition.”
However, he argued for increased support for the NDLEA to address the incidence of drug abuse in the state, just as he assured that the state was willing, ready and prepared to work with the agency and commit as many resources as possible to the combat threat.
Given the gravity of the situation, he said Nigeria should move away from the old ways of dealing with drug problems and adopt new measures that were effective and would bring lasting gains.
In a message of goodwill, Ms. Bisi Fayemi, speaking on behalf of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum, praised the organizer for the initiative.
Ms Betsy Obaseki, Chair of the Organizing Committee and First Lady of Edo, previously said the tournament was set up to discourage women and girls from embarking on illegal migration.
The platform, she said, was to prove that women can earn their dollars at home as they build a career in football.