The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has charged parents and other stakeholders to ensure that hard drugs are kept away from young Nigerians.
NDLEA chair Buba Marwa made the call at the Realnews Magazine 10th anniversary lecture on Thursday in Lagos.
“The truth is instead of a boom, they (Nigerian youths) could become a burden because of abuse of illicit substances,” warned Mr Marwa.
In a statement by the NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, Mr Marwa warned that complacency could compromise the bright future ahead of the youth population.
“Let me leave us with a thought-provoking submission about the danger of complacency in tackling drug abuse among youths. By 2030, demographic factors project the number of people using drugs to rise by 11 per cent around the world, and as much as 40 per cent in Africa alone,” explained the NDLEA chief. “This is an early warning that we should all take seriously and ensure that we keep our young people away from dangerous substances that compromise the bright future ahead of them.”
Mr Marwa stressed that instead of benefitting from the advantages of the huge youth population in Nigeria, the reverse might be the case. This, he said, would be if relevant stakeholders failed to stand up and join ongoing efforts against the drug scourge.
“It is globally recognised that one of Africa’s comparative advantages is its huge youth population. This country, Nigeria, for instance, has no less than 151 million young people, accounting for 70 per cent of our estimated 217 million population,” added the NDLEA boss.
He pointed out that “most of us don’t know what that means,” emphasising that youth “means creativity, strength, resourcefulness and productivity.”
“But how do we rake in these benefits when a significant number of this population is involved in the abuse of illicit substances?” said Mr Marwa and revealed that the NDLEA had initiated some youth-focused measures to safeguard them against the pressures and temptations of going into drugs, including War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign.
“Other measures include an open-door treatment at 26 NDLEA treatment facilities across the country,” he said.