Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo on Thursday said that the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has heightened the cases of drug abuse in the state.
Obaseki made the claim in Benin while declaring open the “Say No to Drugs’ seminar as part of the second edition of the Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament (BOWFT).
The governor noted that a study conducted in the state had shown that drug abuse has assumed a new dimension and is second to kidnapping in the rating of social vices.
According to him, drug abuse is a crisis that the state has taken upon to make a call for collective action to tackle.
“It is a crisis, not only here, but also globally.
“This is why we have taken it upon ourselves to make the call for collective action among different stakeholders to forge the common front to tackle the issue of drug abuse.
“The adverse effects of drug abuse has robbed many youths of their lives, condemning them to life dependent on drugs.
“This limits their abilities to properly function in our society and deprives the society of the much needed human capital to drive productivity and economic growth.
“In sports, drug abuse has remained a course for concern with athletes loosing individual and group medal and honours as a result of drug related offences.
“It is a global issue that has continued to play into our sporting competition.
“While some may argue that this issue is not directed applied to us in Nigeria, we are reminded that Nigeria risks loosing one of the medals won in the just concluded Commonwealth Games on the account of suspicion of prohibited drugs,” he said.
Obaseki, however, advocated more support of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to tackle the incident of drugs abuse in the state.
He assured that the state was willing, ready and prepared to work with the agency and deploy as much resources as required to combat the menace.
In his keynote address, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA, decried that one of the four drug users in Nigeria was a female.
Marwa, who was represented by his Special Adviser, Otunba Lanre Ipinmisho, said focus on the girl child and young women was strategic in the effort to curb the rising trend of drug abuse among Nigerians.
He noted that a national survey had shown that 14.3 million Nigerians, most of them overwhelmingly youths abuse drugs while Nigeria has exceptionally high drug of prevalence of 14.4 per cent.
Given the severity of the situation, he said, Nigeria needed to move away from old ways of tackling drug issues and adopt new measures that were effective and would deliver lasting gains.
Mrs Bisi Fayemi, who spoke on behalf of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum, lauded the organiser for the initiative.
Earlier in her address, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, the Chairman of the Organising Committee and First Lady of Edo, said the tournament was conceived to discourage women and girls embarking on illegal migration.
The platform, she said, was to prove that women could earn their dollars at home by building a career in football.