The Founder, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) and First Lady of Benue State, Dr. Eunice Ortom has stressed the need to wage a concerted and relentless war against drug and substance abuse and not allow the menace to ruin lives, livelihoods, families, dreams and aspirations of persons in the society.
Dr. Ortom stated this during a one-day sensitisation of over 500 students drawn from 18 schools across Makurdi, Benue State in an event organised to raise awareness about the debilitating effects of drug and substance abuse in the spirit of the Federal Government’s War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) through the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
According to the First Lady, “we have identified that we have a common problem, so we must join hands to fight it together. Everyone must join hands to fight drug abuse and kick it out of the society”.
The ESLF Founder noted that the launch of WADA by the President underscores its importance as well as the seriousness that should be attached to the fight and called for protection of our young ones who are vulnerable to the drug menace and other social ills due to their ignorance, inquisitiveness and an impulsive desire for adventure in many of them.
She cautioned that drug abuse, which could lead to the loss of academic career, good health, life’s focus, should be avoided at all cost so as to be able to make the best of the opportunities which life offers and prescribed a “Preventive Approach” through education and sensitisation, “Treatment Support for Victims” as well as “Rehabilitation/Re-integration programmes” would go a long way to effectively tackle the global menace.
Governor Samuel Ortom, who was represented at the event by the State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Joseph Ngbea appreciated all ESLF had done in the state especially in the health sector such as its free breast cancer treatment in the state in the past 5 years, free medical outreaches including the Free Mega Medical Outreaches in Zones A, B and C of the State.
He pledged the ministry’s collaboration with ESLF to develop a protocol that would pave the pathway for the establishment of rehabilitation centres across the State.
In her address, the Benue State Commander of NDLEA, Mrs. Esther Lami Musa who said President Muhammadu Buhari had launched WADA in 2021 to re-double the fight against drug abuse, pointed out that the WADA Campaign, launched in Benue State on 25th February, 2022 would be taken to all nook and cranny of the state and called for greater synergy and collaboration between her agency and ESLF.
Describing drug abuse as an enabler of terrorism, banditry and many social vices bedeviling the country she called for partnership such as the one the agency had with ESLF to tackle the menace.
Presenting an overview of the activity, ESLF’s Co-ordinating Programme Officer Health, Karen Erdoo Yankyaa, said a high percentage of Nigerians had abused drugs with over 3 million of them suffering some form of drug use disorder and were in dire need of treatment and care.
Yankyaa who pointed out that drug abuse comes with a baggage of emotional, mental, psychological and health issues, maintained that ESLF has a message of hope for victims and called on all to make “intentional decisions to end drug abuse, join the existing army fighting drug abuse by setting up drug-free clubs in schools to step down the knowledge gained from the campaign.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Principal of Mount Saint Gabriel Secondary School, Makurdi, Rev. Fr. Pax Finbarr Jey Sharwan appreciated ESLF for hosting the awareness event in the school. He noted that although seemingly far away, the menace of drug abuse was quite close.
The event was spiced up with a drama presentation titled, “Drug Abuse and its Effect” by the Drug Free Club of MSG, display of a short video clip titled, “Wanan Kasuwancin (meaning “This Business), an exhibition by NDLEA of real drugs and substances such as cannabis sativa plant, cannabis seed, skunk, hybrid cannabis, ice, mezaphitamin, cocaine as well as a Drug Kit displaying heroine, paraphernalia, zakami, hallucinogen drugs, rubber solution and look-alike drugs among others.
There was also a Spelling Bee exercise which tested participants’ ability to spell drug-related words like “denial”, “detoxification”, “euphoria”, “paraphernalia”, “follow-up”, “gateway drugs”, “hangover”, “drug culture” and “addiction”.
A major highpoint of the events was the decoration of the ESLF Founder and First Lady, Dr. Eunice Ortom as a WADA Ambassador in recognition of her many contributions in fighting the drug menace and a further mandate for her to do more.
Other highpoints of the event included a chilling experience sharing session by Raymond Agibi who disclosed how he started abusing cannabis and alcohol at the tender age of 11 and lost his job, marriage, millions of naira and almost lost his life until he received counsel and sought help through NDLEA, went through a rehab programme, and today is an ardent advocate against drug abuse.
There was also a presentation by Mrs. Jerinah Taiya, on the “Impact of Drug Abuse on School Children” which identified that people abuse drugs due to peer pressure, low self esteem, easy availability of the substance of abuse, environmental influence, family, work place and community way of life, media advert, occupational disposition, ignorance, frustration. According to her, the consequences of drug abuse included death, madness, damage to vital body organs like liver, heart, hypertension, chronic cough, domestic violence, banditry, among others.
Goodwill messages were delivered by the Speaker of the Benue State Children’s Parliament, Master Callistus Ugboho, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Tabitah Igirgi and representatives of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) among others.