The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, has lamented the increasing rate of drug abuse amongst children, calling on all relevant stakeholders to adopt strategies in curbing the menace.
Abubakar made the call Wednesday in Abuja during a media briefing ahead of the National Children’s Day celebration to be held on the theme ‘Drug Abuse Among Children: Addressing the Challenges’.
According to her, recent study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC in collaboration with the European Union, about 14.3 million Nigerians representing about 14.4 percent of the countrys population between the ages of 15 and 64 were said to have abused drugs in the past one year.
She therefore appealed for better collaboration between the NDLEA, NAFDAC and other drug enforcement agencis in order to strengthen existing structures, urging them to also network with other key stakeholders like United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and National Pharmaceutical Councils.
“Drug Abuse among children has led to increase in mental, temporal or permanent absence from school,crimes such as theft, cyber-crimes, ritual killings, armed robbery among other vices in the country.
“It is worrisome to note that, a great number of our young ones are in illicit drugs and Nigeria’s profile in drug trafficking and abuse has been on the increase over the years. This state of affairs is unacceptable if we are to build a brighter future for our children,” she said.
The Minister also urged parents to devote more time to supervise the activities of their children, adding that children should face their studies and shun negative activities including peer pressure, drug and substance abuse.
In a goodwill message, Director General of NAFDAC who was represented by the Head of Reforms of the Agency, Mrs Ugochi Favour stressed the need to decrease the demand for drugs among vulnerable groups, stressing that drug abuse has become a serious burden for the individuals affected, families and the community.
Also, the National Programme Manager, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (RoLAC) Mr Danlandi Plang, urged relevant agencies involved to reappraise their approach and prioritise drug abuse among children not as a criminal conduct but more as a social, health and a right issue, stressing that if the society is not free of drug Abuse, there is no guarantee of a better future.