President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, said his administration would work closely with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and its international partners to fight the menace of drug abuse.
He urged stakeholders to take a people-centred approach to address drug addiction, saying addicts are also humans who deserve understanding and support to recover from the downward path of drug abuse.
“I want to assure everyone, including our local and international partners, of this administration’s unwavering support for the sustenance of drug control efforts,” Tinubu said in his opening address at the national conference to mark this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, at the State House, Abuja.
The President, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, said interventions to address drug use and its associated consequences must recognise the individual and address the social stigma that comes with the menace.
Speaking of persons struggling with drug abuse, the President said, “These groups often face barriers in accessing health care and social services within society to address their drug use problems.
“Therefore, interventions to address drug use and its associated consequences need to be mindful of the fundamental individual. Stigma, both social and structural, which is one of the commonest barriers to access support and services must be removed.”
He urged stakeholders to educate themselves and others on the dangers of drug abuse and the need to stop stop stigma and discrimination
On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, stressed the need for empathy for persons struggling with drug abuse, saying that addiction is not a death sentence.
Represented by his deputy, Benjamin Kalu, the Speaker expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to support all Federal Government policies that engender gainful engagements of Nigerians, especially the youths prone to drug abuse.
The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Buba Marwa, said the stigmatisation of persons struggling with drug abuse is a major impediment to their rehabilitation process.
He argued that such persons deserve the understanding of the rest of society to encourage them to seek help and access recovery support systems.
“They are human beings with inherent dignity, deserving of understanding, empathy, and support…Our prejudices hinder their access to healthcare, employment and social support systems.
“Hence, we must work to break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help and foster an environment where they feel safe, respected, and encouraged to access the necessary treatments and interventions,” Marwa said.
On his part, the Chairman of the MTN Foundation, Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said profiling persons struggling with drug abuse as criminals complicate their path to recovery.