DIG, UNODCTrain Ebonyi Youths on Drugs Free Campaign

By Israel Mbam

To achieve United Nations target for a free drugs society, an NGO; Development and Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation (DIG Foundation), with support from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC have concluded a three days "Drug Free Action Peer Educators training and Creativity Camp" with a call on youths to be advocates in the fight against drug abuse in the State.

The program which had over 18 participants was held from 1st to 3rd June 2022 at Sandiego  Hotels, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

Addressing the youths selected from eight (8) Local Government Areas in the State on the objectives of the training, the Executive Director of DIG foundation, Chief Oliver Chima Aja, said the training was to expose the Peer Educators to the dangers of drug abuse, the need to shun it and as well equip them with requisite knowledge and skills to enable them avoid drug abuse, educate and influence their peers positively.

Mr. Aja further explained that the training was a step down of the earlier trainings by the UNODC and the European Union in which he  was a beneficiary. 

"The issue of drug abuse in Nigeria and Ebonyi State in particular is very worrisome. The cases of rape, communal crises and other problems have been associated to the recent deadly drug known as Mkpuru mmiri.

“Sometime last year, I was trained by UNODC in the project Response to Drug and related organized crime in Nigeria. And as a foremost zonal coordinator for Community Intervention Network on Drug, seeing situation of drugs in the country, I was worried. So, I had to apply and got approval for the UNODC programme for the 2020 session.

"This training is to build capacity of peer educators who will help to promote drug free actions among youths, especially now that the 2023 elections are around the corner.” he stated.
The DIG boss further explained that the project was initially meant for two LGAs which are Abakaliki and Ezza South, but was later expanded to eight LGAs because of concerns raised by stakeholders during earlier engagements.

At the grand finale, certificates were presented to the trained Peer Educators who were drawn from eight focal local government areas in the State. These are Abakaliki, Afikpo South, Afikpo North, Ezza South, Ezza North, Ohaukwu, Ebonyi and Ikwo.

Good will messages were presented by stakeholders who graced the closing ceremony of the training. They include Ministry of Youths and sports, NDLEA, Traditional Rulers, the Police, NYSC, Ministry of Internal Security among others who commended DIG UNODC and NDLEA for the training and pledged their partnership in reduction of drug abuse in the State.

Earlier in their presentations at the training, the Resources persons including DIG Advisor, Dr. Emma Abah; the Assistant Commander, Drug Demand Reduction Department, NDLEA, Godwim Erepa and the Principal Psychologist, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Eze Nsi Ude, took turns to educate participants on drug related concepts: causes of drug abuse, consequences, drug demand and reduction; economic, social and health implications of drug abuse, roles of youth leaders in drug abuse prevention as well as support and amelioration techniques.

Analysing the current global drug situation Mr. Erepa of NDLEA noted that One third of the World’s drug users are women.

"There are approximately 3.5 million female who inject drugs, out of estimated 12 million people who inject drugs.

"Estimated 10.8 million men and 3.4 million women reported past drug use in Nigeria."

Erepa emphasized that prevalence of drug abuse promotes indiscriminate sexual behaviours, violence and neurological disorders.

He identified low self esteem, Poverty, instability in character, Chaotic family/ broken homes, medical record and Peer influence as some of the causes of drug abuse.He charged participants against stigmatizing drug users but to rather show them care and empathy.

On his part, Mr. Eze Nsi Ude, in his presentations decried inadequate facilities and manpower for management and treatment of drug users, and called for concerted efforts by government and concerned individuals towards improving them.

“Globally, only 1 in 6 people that need treatment receive treatment.”In Africa, it is one out of 18, and that is because of insufficient capacity.

Ude who recommended a minimum of 3 months treatment for drug dependence persons to achieve better result, identified major forms of treatment to include counselling, detoxification, abstinence based treatment, mutual help and support group as well as drug substitution programs.

The DIG advisor, Dr. Emmanuel Abah, while admonishing the participants noted that there was a mutual link between drug and crimes such as killing, robbery, kidnapping, incest, and other forms of abuses and violence.

He charged participants to drive the outcome of the training home to their various communities and social groups.

"You are now ambassadors to the fight against drug and crime. We have prepared you here as advocates to restore the dignity of our State and country, to be free from drugs."

Some of the peer educators who spoke to journalists, including Oluchi Nwite and Ifeanyi Nwokporo appreciated DIG and the UNODC for enriching their capacity.

They pledged to utilize the skills bequeathed to them in fighting drug abuse to a halt in their various jurisdictions.

Also in attendance at the event were traditional rulers, Town Union presidents of the focal communities; representatives of the State Ministry of Sports and youth development, the Police, NYSC, NOA, the media, among others.


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