REPORT OF THE 4TH NATIONAL YOUTH SUMMIT ON DRUGS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION ORGANIZED BY AFRICAN YOUTHS INITIATIVE ON CRIME PREVENTION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OFFICE OF THE SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANCE TO THE PRESIDENT ON DISABILITY MATTERS, 30TH – 31ST, OCTOBER, 2018, ABUJA.
The Summit was hosted by African Youths Initiative on Crime Prevention in partnership with the Office of the Senior Assistant to the President on Disability Matters on the 30th-31st October, 2018 at the SGF Conference Hall, Federal Secretariat, Abuja with the theme as Vulnerability of Youths to Drugs and Substance Abuse in Nigeria: Reclaiming the Future.
The Summit had in attendance a total of 214 delegates with great personalities in the field of drug and substance abuse prevention cutting across, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions, practitioners, Academia, Policy makers and some strong prevention advocates and champions whose commitments and works in the global fight against drugs and substance abuse speaks volume.
The Summit also had representatives of some Embassies and organizations who are really committed in the global fight against drug and substance abuse amongst young people such as the U.S Embassy, Indonesian Embassy, World Federation Against Drugs, WFAD, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, D.A.R.E, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, Economic Community of West Africa, ECOWAS, Peace Corps of Nigeria, the Albina Foundation, Civil Society Network on Drug Abuse, PADDI Foundation, Community Agenda for Peace, International Centre for Leadership Development in Nigeria and the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics.
KEYNOTE SPEECHES AND GOOD MESSAGES:
The Chairman of the Summit Dr Jake Epelle who also doubles as the president and founder of Albino Foundation took the lead through his keynote remarks by thanking the organizers of the Summit for their commitment in protecting the lives of our young people by consistently organizing a Summit of this nature irrespective of the economic situation in Nigeria.
He highlighted some of the challenges facing Nigeria in the drug fight as manmade and he went ahead to call on government and Civil Society Organizations to adopt a prevention approach that will be peculiar to our culture and society against the foreign imports that are promoting legalization in an open, young and vulnerable communities like West Africa.
He urged summit resource persons to address the way forward in making a distinction between promoting legalization and preventing the adverse effect of drug use, thereby promoting solution driven advocacy. He called on organizations to use platforms like this to make a clear statement to the West, against legalization.
Christogonus C. Ibe, the Executive Director and Founder of AYICRIP, In his welcome address welcomed all participants especially the international delegates from World Federation against Drugs, WFAD, Sweden and Drug Abuse Resistance Education, D.A.R.E from America for honouring the invitation to participate in the Summit.
Part of his speech reads, It is our believe that your presence here today shows the love and commitment you have for the youth of our country who are one of the most affected set of young people across the world and we have no doubt that at the end of this summit things will never be the same again. I thank all the young people have travelled from different states, far from this center of unity and I wish to tell you that you are here to assume the status of an ambassador to your various communities.
The drug and substance abuse issue is one of the greatest challenges Nigeria is facing today and we all can not shy away from this fundamental truth as we all know how drug and substance abuse affects the physical and mental health of human beings throughout the world, decreases national productivity, and destroyed the reputation of our citizens and country abroad: young Nigerians are arrested and convicted, jailed and executed in foreign lands, adding to the pain of the affected families. Something must be done and fast. Every citizen, from Government to civil society, should pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other, engage in getting the youth rid of this scourge the best way we can.
He said this two day summit is not the change we seek, it’s only the chance for us to make that change and this cannot happen if we go back to the old ways. However we can’t make change happen without the willingness and commitment of Government and other sectors to address the drug challenge frontally and mobilizing resources to fight drug abuse. We cannot make this change happen without all of us committing ourselves to act the little we can for a drug free society, from Surulere in Lagos to Race course in Kano, from the bay of Port Harcourt to the hills of Benue, young people and the entire community must rise against this scourge of drugs and substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking before the menace destroys us.
As an organization, we are convinced that the path to a drug free society is hard, but it will lead to a better Nigeria. Though the road to completely eliminating trafficking is long, but we have to travel it together, we don’t have to stop no matter the challenges we may come across, and Nigeria is surely blessed to have dynamic youths and leaders like you who are committed to make this country a better place to live.
We are highly concerned about the increasing clamour for legalization of drugs, especially marijuana by few influential personalities across the world considering the high level of vulnerability of our young people and the general community. We were privilege to have participated in the 2016 UNGASS on Drug problems where Nigeria voted No to legalization and I want to use this platform to call all well-meaning Nigerians to stand up against these new legalization narratives that will expose our young population to destruction.
Our organization sincerely understand the arguments being put forward by the promoters of LEGALISATION, however, we have our socio-economic and political peculiarities as a Africans and we cannot be forced into legalization of drugs especially marijuana just because Canada and other Western countries have gone the way of legalization. We have a young population unlike the West and based on the UN Convention on the protection of Children; we must not open our communities to drugs if we must protect our young population.
A situation whereby our young people are taking over rehabilitation centers against their beautiful family homes and work places, jailed and executed abroad and brought back home as human cargoes is no more acceptable and we cannot continue to pay lip service to the fight against drug and substance abuse especially the PREVENTION approach considering the fact that if an objective prevention is carried out, there will be no need for treatment. We call on government to partner with pro-prevention nongovernmental organizations and adequately fund the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency for the purpose of winning the national fight against drug problems in Nigeria. Our call is hinged on the knowledge that combating the menace of drug challenge and thereby reclaiming the future of Nigerian youth, the government must as a matter of necessity pay attention to the inadequate funding and staffing of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
He commended the Nigerian Senate and the Government for their “NO STANCE” against legalization. He said he is confident that the campaign against drugs and substance abuse will only gain traction in Nigeria when all of us make individual and collective commitment to support the campaign against drug use and substance abuse.
Dr Emmanuel C. Ibe, the Chairman Board of Trustees of AYICRIP, was full of joy while presenting his good will message. He welcomed every participant especially the international delegates for considering the summit very important to warrant their participation. He assures them of their safety because Abuja is safe irrespective of the reports of some international media reports about Nigeria. He also pledged his commitment to the global fight against drugs and substance abuse amongst youths through his support and advise as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of AYICRIP.
In his goodwill message, ISMAN PASHA the representative of the Indonesian Embassy said that Indonesia share the same problem with Nigeria on drug problems but recently many countries especially in Asia have developed stereotypes against the Nigerian youth because of the drug challenge; he hoped that events like this will address these stereotypes.
Ms Linda Nilsson, Secretary General of World Federation against Drugs, WFAD said she is very happy to be part of the summit being organized by one of the affiliate organizations of WFAD. According to her, WFAD is a membership organization with over 200 affiliate members of which over 100 are based in Africa. She said she believes that prevention is the best way to solve the world’s drugs problems and she promised that WFAD will continue to support advocacy in the area of prevention.
Barrister Eze Eluchie, the president of Civil Society Network on Drug Abuse, who also doubles as the Executive Director and Founder of PADDI Foundation observed that the greatest asset of this country is not the oil and natural resources but its youth population. He hoped that the youth present here will become empowered and leave as change agents to the nation at the end of the Summit.
Mr Denis Osborn, D.A.R.E. International Western Regional Director, expressed happiness for the D.A.R.E Team participation and thanked Mr Christogonus Ibe for the invitation. He went further to restate the commitment of D.A.R.E in the global campaign against drugs and substance abuse amongst young people through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program which is considered the most comprehensive drug prevention curricula in the world taught in thousands of schools throughout America’s 50 states and its territories, as well as in 50+ other countries reaching more than 2 million students annually. He also said the main reason for their participation is see the possibility of establishing a D.A.R.E programme in Nigeria in partnership with AYICRIP and the National Police in Nigeria.
Mr Daniel Amakwa, the representative of ECOWAS Commission, while appreciating AYICRIP for organizing people from across the world, He said that he is hoping that this summit will be an eye opener on the argument for or against legalization and or prevention.
Mr Michael Burnner of the U.S Embassy appreciated the leadership of AYICRIP for the commitment they have shown in the protection of young people and the entire society through their numerous crime prevention programmes especially the National Youth Summit on Drugs and Substance Abuse Prevention which the US Embassy is really proud to be associated with. He said the American government through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is committed to the global fight against illicit drug trafficking, drug and substance abuse especially amongst young people. He advise young people to stay out of drugs and substance abuse to enable them become responsible citizens that will contribute to the development of the country and also restate the U.S Embassy commitment is supporting programmes of this nature.
DRUGS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION AWARD:
Some special individuals and organizations were recognized and considered for an award in appreciation of their contributions and commitment to the global campaign against illicit drug trafficking, drug and substance abuse and they were awarded the Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention Champions. They include, Linda Nilsson of WFAD, Dr Samuel Ankeli, Special Assistant to the President on Disability and Dr Dickson Akoh, while Drug Abuse Resistance Education, D.A.R.E International was received the award for the organizational category which was received by Mr Denis Osborn on behalf of the President of D.A.R.E. International. Mr Denis Osborn on behalf of the President of D.A.R.E International presented an appreciation plague to Mr Christogonus Ibe in appreciation of his commitment in the global campaign against drug and substance in Nigeria.
PAPER PRESNTATIONS AND TRAININGS:
1st Speaker PROF. ADEYEMI AWOPETU from University of Lagos helped us understand DEFINITIONS of the core issues, by defining Drugs as any substance other than food that when ingested causes temporal psychological effect on the body, substance abuse means taking drugs that are legal (prescription drugs) in a way other than as prescribed and finally, addiction when you get involved in an intake of drugs and become dependent on the intake.
He furthermore introduced participants to DRUGS AND SUBSTANCES USUALLY ABUSED to include – Marijuana comes with different street names, and is usually used in different forms. Use or abuse of these drugs can lead to addiction and the use of stronger drugs.
Marijuana comes with different negative side effects some of which may be long time and Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug. It is consumed for different reasons by the young and old alike. There are also short and long term effects of alcohol use and abuse with strong intoxication/drunkenness.
Alcohol intake can also result in addition, while some may become dependent on alcohol. Synthetic Drugs, these are created using man-made chemicals, this is different from naturally occurring agents. These come in different forms also. Because the chemical compositions constantly change, users have no way of knowing what form of drugs they are or not.
Prescription drugs abuse, these are on-the-counter drugs easily available. A doctor can prescribe a drug to cure an ailment. However that same drug can as well be used wrongly. These will include painkillers and depressants, their abuse can lead to several negative effects.Drugs can cure, drugs can kills.
The 2nd Speaker DR. FREEDOM ONUOHA, University of Nigeria Nsukka, started by assuring that the youth population for any country can be a landmine or a goldmine. He insists that the youth is any young person between the ages of 18 and 35. According to him, violence is possible against oneself. It refers to the intentional use of force against oneself, people or community that result in death or bodily harm. He continued that those we consider the youth are essentially those who abuse drugs and proffered the following solutions:
- Public enlightenment awareness and interventions
- Targeted Youth empowerment programs
- Sensitization and collaboration among agencies
- Support for empirical and policy oriented research
- Intelligence led nationwide drug abuse mapping exercise
- Establish and scale up counseling and rehabilitation outfit
- Scale up border security mechanisms
PROF. NGOZI OSARENREN, University of Lagos also started by agreeing with the immediate past speaker’s recommendation which is to focus on counseling and the skills that guide it. She enumerated the major counseling skills that will help to combat the incidences of drug use and abuse. Counseling will be necessary for normal people who are troubled, if you are not normal, you will not need counseling but Psychiatrist. In counseling, the worth, dignity and uniqueness of individuals is respected. It is believed that an individual has the inherent ability to make decisions and apply them because it is your life.
There are 3 essential qualities for you to be in any counseling. The counselor must show:
Final takes, many young people are experiencing drugs problems because of the many mental issues and we should be willing to help our young people from becoming drug dependent.
The 4th speaker, ISMAN PASHA is a representative of the Indonesian Embassy who discussed the topic, Youth and Drugs Mitigation. According to him, the Drug abuse situation is an emergency national challenge. He enumerated the methods the people and government of Indonesia has employed in addressing the drug menace Methods of approach to reduce drug use:
- Supply reduction
- Demand reduction
He also expressed prevailing challenges they have encountered in the cause of addressing these challenges to include:
- New models of narcotics
- Youth openness to influence
- Influx of drug trafficking from neighboring countries
He concluded that money has no citizenship, just like drug peddlers
The 5th Speaker Dr. EBERE JAMES OKERIE from UNIVERSITY OF Uyo, did a critical evaluation of some of the issues already discussed by speakers, and suggesting way forward. According to him, because every negative habit has the potential to be denied, it is possible to fully recover the addicts and help them live a drug free life.
The best option is for parents to take back the responsibility of our kids upbringing. Do not leave that responsibility to the teachers along and peer pressure. On the way forward, he posits that:
- National security cannot be guaranteed in the face of widespread hunger, poverty, unemployment.
- Drug use and other related offences could be solved if all levels join hands in finding solution
- This paper is based on cumulative efficacy theory, that if the parents, teachers and community are involved in addressing the drug challenge, part of the challenge can be resolved.
THE D.A.R.E TEAM:
6th Speaker, Mr. Dennis Osborn of D.A.R.E America International played a video that tells about the history of DARE and he said that DARE’s delivery system allows a person meeting you will be a person in uniform. This helps the persons to build trust and according to him, they are proven programs through a collaborative approach which D.A.R.E use for decision making models: Refuse – Explain – Avoid – Leave
Sherrif Ira Edwards spoke on his experiencing as a DARE Officer which reflect on how the DARE program impacted his immediate community. He said he became an officer as to join the fight in teaching the youth how to resist drugs, violence and to make good choices. The D.A.R.E program is a community oriented policing model and he submitted.
Danielle Littrell, an 18 years old former D.A.R.E Student was the cynosure of all eyes as young people were thrilled by her experience and passion to lead her community campaign in the fight against drugs and substance abuse prevention. She shared her D.A.R.E experience with the participants and she went on to explain how D.A.R.E has impacted on herself and the youth in her immediate community.
Danielle spoke extensively on her involvement with the DARE inspired Youth Advocacy Board.
Linda Nilsson, the Secretary General of World Federation Against Drugs, WFAD spoke on the future of Drugs Policy and their prevention activities. She reflected on international prevention standards:
- Prevention is more than just informing
- Based on science and evidence
- We do not need to improvise
She also talked on some peculiarities which have been recognized as world best practice which include:
- Knowledge about local preconditions
- Importance of family and local community
- Involve the youth
- Cooperate – no one can do it for you
She highlighted some of the challenges as listed below:
- Lack of date
- Influence of media and culture
- Lack of selected prevention towards groups at risk
- Availability of treatment and care – recovery
According to her, the use of marijuana is increasing in low level social economic groups, and this remains one of the many consequences of legalization and WFAD is trying her best to put pressure on member states to relax their actions in promoting legalization against prevention.
She suggested actions to be taken such as:
- Prevention – mobilize one million communities
- Make treatment and rehabilitation available and increase quality
- Develop alternative incarceration
- Support alternative development
“In a rapidly urbanizing world, drug control will be won or lost in the cities” and as a people, it is important to appreciate this if you must get involved in the global drug advocacy.
WORKSHOP AND SKILL DEVELOPMENT SESSION:
Dr. Ibanga Akanidomo of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, UNODC anchored this session with great expertise as he did a presentation on Kills necessary for running a drug prevention programs in schools.
The training focused on prevention, sensitization and advocacy in drug demand and supply reduction.
He mentioned several risk factors for drug use:
- Personality traits
- Mental health
- Family neglect
- Poor attachment to schools and community
- Deprived communities
Barr. Eze Eluchie spoke on galvanizing the youth against drug abuse. He suggested that the youth remain our greatest resource; therefore their welfare is utmost concern being open to new ideas.
He explained that there are benefits of galvanizing the youth; he gave instances eg Lower costs of intervention, Society cohesion, sense of societal wellbeing etc.
He went on to say that there are consequences of disinterest to include:
- Societal collapse
- Increased disease burden
- Increased crime rate
He said it will be a huge waste of time if the leaders of tomorrow are not carried along and so therefore programmes that focused on the under listed must be encouraged.
- Outreach program
- Peer influence
- Youth events and gatherings
On the question of when we can begin galvanizing, he said we should have started this by yesterday, now and continuously into the future.
Dr paul Agbo of University of Jos spoke on Drug and Substance Addiction and Prevention Strategies as a blue print that will guide the all efforts being put in place in the fight against drugs and substance abuse amongst young people. He advised that all parters both government and non state actors must develop a standard strategy that will be all inclusive if the fight against drug and substance abuse amongst youths must be won.
Mr Ikenna Molobe spoke on the Consequences of Irregular Migration and Drug Trafficking which has experience high incidents in recent times.
He called on youth travelers to always mind who wants to assist them in traveling out of the country because in most cases, they end up as traffickers and they will never know.
EXHIBITIONS AND DEBATE:
As part of the activities marking the summit, participating students were involved in drug and substance abuse prevention exhibition and debate in support to the global fight against drug and substance abuse amongst young people.
The students debated on a debate theme: Drug and Substance Abuse amongst Youth; a threat to the Achievement of SDG 4 and National Development and the two schools that were involved (Access Secondary School and Academy Lugbe) distinguished themselves by showing dept of and understanding on the effect of drugs and substance abuse among young people and the also highlighted the how elders in the communities promote and encourage it. It is also important to state here that no winner emerged in the debate competition as both teams were declared Champions of drug and substance abuse prevention.
Joshua Adeniyi of Access Secondary Abuja through his drawing exhibited the stages of drug and substance abuse in the lives of young people and this was appreciated by the entire participants.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
There were questions amongst which are the following:
- Why tramadol and codeine is available everywhere and what is government doing about it?
- What is government doing in prosecuting and bringing to justice these drug barons who are bringing these drugs into the country?
- Why cant our legislators promulgate laws that will address this drug problems
- Why are some people calling for legalization of drugs in Nigeria?
- What do you mean by psychosis and psychotic disorder?
- There are lots of evidence based researches on the problems caused by drugs but still nothing is happening.
- What is government doing is helping those students who are out of school because of drugs?
- How can I become a drug and substance abuse prevention champion
- Can Danielle Littrelle come to our school to talk to many more students?
The above questions were answered by the resource persons.
LESSONS LEARNED AND KEY ACHIEVEMENST:
Participants were able to learn the following:
- That Drugs are any substance other than food that when ingested causes temporal psychological effect on the body.
- That it will amount to substance abuse when you ingest drugs that are legal (prescription drugs) in a ways other than as prescribed.
- That addiction will result when you get involved in the intake of drugs and become dependent on the intake.
- That public enlightenment awareness and interventions and targeted Youth empowerment programs must be activated.
- That the youth population for any country can be a landmine or a goldmine.
- That the drug abuse situation is an emergency national challenge, which calls for Intelligence, led nationwide drug abuse mapping exercise.
- That many young people are experiencing drugs problems, most of which result in mental issues; we should be willing to help our young people from becoming drug dependent.
- That the fight against drugs and substance abuse is for everybody and not left for government alone.
- That the representative of the Chairman Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics reaffirmed the prevention position of the Nigerian Senate and Government.
- Four participating secondary schools have accepted to raise a drug free club in the school with the support of AYICRIP
- A.R.E International has reaffirmed her interest to extend the D.A.R.E Programme to Nigeria.
- The participants learned how to start up a school based prevention programme in their community.
- The summit is being accepted internationally as it recorded 7 international participants from two world reputed drug and substance abuse prevention focus organizations.
Office of the Senior Assistant to the President on Disability Matters
U.S Embassy Abuja (Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, INL)
Healthy Thinking International, Sweden
Community Agenda for Peace
International Centre for Leadership Development in Nigeria,
Divine Love Foundation, Abuja.
Centre for Development of Institutions, Abuja
United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, UNODC
We were unable to raise fund to transport more students and youths across the country.
The crises between the Nigerian Security Agencies and the Islamic Organization of Nigeria scared participants aware in Abuja and 7 schools withdraw their participation.
- Sensitization based campaign must be enhanced to get to many schools, religious institutions and communities as possible
- Government must necessarily build and strengthen national Support mechanisms for empirical and policy oriented research in the area of drug use and substance abuse.
- That government should increase and foster partnerships with functional civil society in the fight against drugs and illicit substances. Establish and scale up counseling and rehabilitation outfit.
- Corporate organizations should also support drug and substance abuse prevention programmes as part of their corporate social responsibilities activities.
- Policies that tend to promote prevention activities must be promulgated and government should intensify commitment in funding and empowering drug regulating agencies in Nigeria.
- Government should repeal laws that focus on petty drug users rather than big barons and dealers.
- Legalizations of the use of marijuana and other psychotropic drugs must not be encouraged by government and other stakeholders.
- International organizations and other funding agencies must treat and fund the activities of prevention focus organizations without any form of sentiments and bias which is the perception in Nigeria.