In furtherance of the drive to curb the increasing rate of substance abuse in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, under the Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) led a multi sectoral roundtable on the substance abuse ecosystem in Nigeria and the need for intensified collaborative action.
The forum, which held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Thursday, February 28, 2019, was part of the Lagos state activations of the ASAP aimed at reducing the incidence of substance abuse among youth in Nigeria. The event had in attendance notable dignitaries such as Dr. Jide Idris, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State; Mr. Agboola Dabiri, Commissioner for Youth & Social Development, Lagos State; Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, Chairman, MTN Foundation and Mr. Dennis Okoro, Director MTN Foundation. Also in attendance were ASAP partners including United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Nigeria Police Force, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN); Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry (CADAM); Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), and Global Initiative On Substance Abuse (GISA) among others.
Speaking at the forum, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, Chairman, MTN Foundation, explained: “The purpose of this campaign is to stimulate discourse among thought leaders, policy makers and leaders from different walks of life, to bring us much closer towards our goal of freeing our future leaders from the evil attraction of drugs and possible addiction to opioids.”
Dr. Jide Idris, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, while speaking at the event, opined that education on substance abuse was essential, “We all can take time to educate ourselves and others about the harmful nature of these substances. Education on the impact that these drug and substances of abuse have on the individual and the society as a whole should be taught and understood.”
Mr. Agboola Dabiri, Commissioner for Youth & Social Development, Lagos State, in his remark reminded the youth of their strategic place in nation building: “You are the future of Nigeria; you have a lot to give. When we speak of the next level, you are the next level.” Speaking further on substance abuse and the ASAP initiative, he said, “The issue of drug abuse is no longer on the roads; it is now within our homes. I thank MTN for this opportunity and I commend them for a job well done.”
The State activations, which started with various activities in primary and secondary schools, motor parks, and markets, will continue with an advocacy walk that will culminate in counselling sessions for all interested persons. A replication of all the activities under the ASAP initiative will be in five other states – Imo, Rivers, Kano, Bauchi and Abuja – in the coming months. The overall objective is to take the ASAP initiative to the streets of Nigeria and meet the youth in their comfort zones.
MTN Nigeria continues to fulfill its CSR objective of improving the quality of life with various projects such as the What Can We Do Together Campaign, ICT and Business Skills training, upgrading of Sickle Cell and DNA laboratories and consistent support for arts and culture in Nigeria.