The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has advocated the drafting of members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) into the fight against drug abuse in the country.
Speaking Monday evening at the launch of the National Drugs Control Master Plan (NDCMP), 2021- 2025 by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Minister stated that the 320,000 strong Corp members that serve the nation annually are a ready army that can be deployed in the fight against drug abuse, charging the NDLEA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to look in that direction.
“One of the greatest problems we have seen in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is the menace of drug abuse amongst our Youth. In different urban centres from Lagos to Port-Harcourt to Kano, you just need to visit a few of the hidden rehab centres. You’ll see young men between the ages of 18 and 34, who otherwise should be at the cutting edge of technology, providing solutions to our problems, developing apps for this country, completely almost running berserk”, the Minister lamented.
“Like several other countries, Nigeria’s future is imperiled unless it does something to halt the use of illicit drugs and its devastating effect on our younger population. Now, that is why the launch of this Masterplan today, and the work done by various development partners is of major significance for us here as a country, and also for me, as Minister of Youth and Sports Development”.
“The issues are diverse, we talk about use of illicit drugs, we talk about sub-standard drugs but our utmost concern is how we can take our Youth out of this hole, they’ve found themselves. We need an army that will create awareness about the dangers, that will create education about alternatives, I look up here and I see the NYSC members. That is the single largest concentration of Youth in our country. Year in, Year out, 320,000 of them serve our country. It is pertinent to fashion out a template that would right from the first day they get into camp, and throughout their service year turn them into foot-soldiers, an army that will carry the message against illicit drugs use out there”, Dare emphasised.
On the predilection of some Youth to illicit drug use, the Minister affirmed the need to interrogate reasons for the vice, listing factors such as low self-esteem, peer pressure, frustration, depression, unemployment and disappointment as causative agents. He added that with high number of jobless youth coupled with crippling poverty, slide to drugs use might be a way of seeking temporary reprieve.
“Because government is mindful of these factors, that is why it is providing opportunities for Youth to thrive, that is why a slew of youth focused programmes have been put in place and will be upscaled to make sure that we accelerate the number of Youth that we can place on the path of entrepreneurship, that we can support their education, that we can give the relevant digital skills training that they need to compete in a 21st century World,” Dare added.
The Minister expressed the commitment of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to explore areas of partnership with the NDLEA to ensure the Masterplan has a far-reaching impact on reducing the menace of drug abuse amongst Youth across the country.