COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 1ST WEST AFRICAN PRIMARY PREVENTION ON DRUG ABUSE ORGANIZED BY AFRICAN YOUTHS INITIATIVE ON CRIME PREVENTION, AYICRIP, NIGERIA IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SMART INTERNATIONAL, SWEDEN, HELD AT THE BIBLE SOCIETY GUEST HOUSE, PALM GROOVE ESTATE, LAGOS, NIGERIA ON THE 16TH TO 17TH MARCH, 2020.
African Youths Initiative on Crime Prevention (AYICRIP), Nigeria and Smart International, Sweden held the 1st West African Primary Prevention Conference on Drug Abuse from the 16th to 17th March, 2020 at the Bible Society Guest House, Palm Groove Estate, Palm Groove, Lagos with theme; Prevention Works.
The conference which aimed at critically addressing different prevention options especially the primary prevention against legalization approach in the West African region was declared open by the Honourable Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Lagos State who was represented by Mrs Taiwo Fibisola, Director of Planning and Programme. A total of 5 paper presentations, 3 workshops, 3 panel of discussions and 2 goodwill messages was recorded. Goodwill messages were received from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, Secretary General of World Federation against Drugs, Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the President of ISSUP, Nigerian Chapter,
Three honorary awards were presented to the founder Smart International and promoter of Contract concept of prevention, Slim Liden, the Board Chair, Smart International Ms Ajda Asgari and Mr Soheil Asgari for their outstanding contributions in the global campaign against drug and substance abuse through prevention approach. Ajda Asgari and Soheil Asgari received standing ovation for their courage in braving the odds to attend the conference despite the global health challenge caused by COVID 19.
The participants thanked the host organization, African Youths Initiative on Crime Prevention and their partners, Smart International, Sweden for hosting the all-important conference which is focused to protect the child and other young people.
The organizers acknowledged the presence and support of the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria, Lagos State Government, World Federation against Drugs, International Society for Substance Use Practitioners, International Centre for Leadership Development, PADDY Foundation, Community Agenda for Peace, United Religious Initiative, Healthy Thinking International and Impact Her World Africa. The organizers also acknowledged the apologies of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime and The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) for their inability to participate due to the outbreak of corona virus (COVID 19).
- Participants observed that there is no specially designed programme for drug and substance abuse prevention in West African.
- That drug and substance abuse is a major challenge in the overall growth and development of young people in the West African Sub-Region considering the activities of traffickers and advocates of legalization.
- The chances of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) especially Goals 3, 4 and 16 remains a huge challenge if primary prevention approach is not taken serious.
- The porousness of the borders due to lack of adequate synergy and poor law enforcement within region also help in promoting and sustenance of drug problems within the region.
- The promotion of legalization programmes will make young people vulnerable especially children thereby violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Many people are violating the laws of countries within the region by promoting and advocating for the legalization of marijuana and other psychotropic substances which runs contrary to the laws of the land.
- That the objective of primary prevention remains the most successful approach in the fight against drug and substance abuse amongst other approaches because it is safer, cheaper and easier with no consequences.
- That the clamour for legalization against prevention within the West African Sub-Region does not reflect the reality and yearnings of the majority populations within the region
- That prevention activities and programme amongst young people which has been adjudged as one of the best approach in addressing the drug and substance abuse menace globally are highly isolated by key policy makers within the region and this is worrisome and capable of opening the abuse windows for more young people to test their hands in drugs.
- Primary prevention of drug and substance abuse education is hardly taught in schools especially the faith based schools and student users get into trouble in school when caught by way expulsion and rustication
- That government and law enforcement agencies are basically focused on law enforcement with little or no interest in the prevention approach.
- Lack of government support and funding discourages Civil Society Organizations in carrying out primary prevention activities in the fight against drugs and substance abuse.
Sequel to the above observations, the under listed recommendations are hereby made.
- That the West African Primary Prevention Conference should be held annually for the purpose of sustaining the gains recorded in the 1st edition and also to drive the objectives throughout the West African Region.
- Government and relevant stakeholders should intensify effort in the promotion of prevention in the regional drug abuse campaign through the primary prevention approach to drug and substance abuse menace amongst young people.
- That government should mandate all primary and secondary schools and communities to implement primary prevention concept as the best prevention approach within the West African Region.
- Government within West Africa should establish a Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention Trust Fund to support the training and implementation of the primary prevention programmes in primary and secondary schools across the region.
- West African governments should include primary prevention concept in the primary and secondary schools programme to form part of the extra-curricular activities for the students.
- Awareness on Primary prevention concept should be created through the churches, communities, mosques and government orientation agencies
- Smart Clubs should be encouraged to be established in primary and secondary schools across the West African Region for the purpose catching the children young from abusing drugs.
- Advocates of legalization of marijuana and other psychotropic substances should be prosecuted in accordance with the laws of different countries within the region for violating the laws which prohibits promotion of prohibited substances including marijuana.
- That a pro prevention regional Civil Society Organizations Network should be formed to champion the advocacy for prevention against the current campaign of legalization of marijuana and other psychotropic substances.
Ibe Christogonus C.
Conference Chairman/Executive Director, AYICRIP
Conference Secretary/Project Director.