Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri has called on people of the state to join hands with his administration to rid the state of hard drugs and its menace.
He made the appeal on Tuesday, June 29, in Yenagoa, during the Stakeholders Sensitization Campaign Against Drug Abuse as part of activities to mark the World Drug Day, held on June 26.
Diri commended the efforts of the State Drugs Abuse Prevention and Rehabilitation Committee (BADAPARC), saying his desire during his governorship campaigns was to ensure a drug-free state, which will also make the state more secure.
Governor Diri stated that the future of the state belongs to the young people and advised them to shun drugs in order to preserve the legacy of the present generation and take the state to greater heights.
He said he had mandated the Commissioner for Health, to ensure a Psychiatric hospital is built in the next one year, saying the efforts of the government will be intensified towards rehabilitating people who suffer drug-related disorders and other mental illnesses.
On his part, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Newton Igwele, said the governor’s passion about a drug-free state can be seen in his proactive measures to combat drug abuse, and called on politicians and all stakeholders to ensure they reach out to young people in the state and save them from drug abuse.
The Chairman BADAPARC, Pharm. Faith Izibenua Zibs-Godwin said the eight-man committee was set up to create awareness and foster collaboration among all aspects of the society to put an end to drug abuse.
She said the strategy to achieve this involves a school-based, religious-based and community-based approach, and called on everyone to take personal responsibility to end the use of illicit drugs in the state.
The Country Representative, United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNOCD), Mr. Oliver Stolpe said the number of those using drugs in Nigeria is three times higher than the global average.
He lauded the state government for its proactive measures to curtail this global health problem, and said his office will continue to partner with the NDLEA, Ministry of Education and others to ensure a drug-free state and nation.
Delivering the keynote address, Prof. Helen Oshinowo said the use of Tramadol and Codeine has increased among secondary school students, who use other things like methylated spirit, dry plantain leaves, burnt tyres amongst others, as drugs.
She advised parents to be vigilant, adding that those who have been affected by drug abuse should seek help from medical professionals, and called for more advocacy against drug abuse.
A highlight of the event was a drama presentation on the dangers of drug abuse by the Bayelsa State Council of Arts and Culture.