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Drug and substance abuse in Nigeria: Hauz of Elnathan to the rescue

By Palmer Ogheneyole Nathaniel

The origin of the social malady of hard drugs intake and merchandise among the young global population cannot be precisely ascertained. Records have it that hard drug consumption and general drug abuse is as old as any human misdemeanor. In recent times, the planetary upsurge in the number of youths of both genders involved in this act is rather distressing. This is the reason why many countries have imposed stiff and even in some cases draconian sanctions for those found wanting in the act. Whether these penalties have discouraged these acts or not is a matter for another day. But globally, community responses in form of advocacies and enlightenment of the young population on the adverse effects of the intake of hard drugs are soaring.

Nigeria as a country has had its fair share of this unpleasant scenario. In the year 1989, the then Military government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida promulgated the now famous Degree Number 48 which established the Nation’s anti-drug police known as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLA). This agency with its personnels stationed in the country’s airports, seaports and borders has since its inception championed the cause of eradicating the budding menace of hard drug intake and merchandizing across the country. Even in Post primary and tertiary institutions, “Drug-free” clubs and other organizations are been established to discourage students from indulging in the acts of hard drugs intake and drugs abuse.

Hauz of Elnathan is a leading Non-governmental organization (NGO) solely established to compliment the efforts of government in combatting the scourge of drug and substance abuse among the teeming youth population in Nigeria. Its target audience is mainly youths and teenagers of school age. Why government approach is that of a clampdown, Hauz of Elnathan appeals to the consciousness of its audience with facts and statistics to dissuade them from those illicit acts.

In one of its campaigns to selected secondary schools in Delta, Hauz of Elnathan displayed documentary videos and still photographs in a multi-media projector to students on the ruins of substance abuse. Some of these images were real while others were acted to pass the message. The goal is to bring to the minds of these youths the harmful and destructive nature of these substances both to the health of the consumer and the sanity of the larger society. These seminars are periodically organized with the establishment and sole financing of ‘Drug Free Clubs’ in the selected schools. Quiz and essay competitions on the subject matter are also intermittently systematized with winners awarded various prizes ranging from reading and writing materials to scholarships.

Audiences of Hauz of Elnathan are also made to understand what other countries of the world are doing to tame the tide. They are taught how some countries have put in place prohibition legislations that could even lead to drug offenders been executed when caught. These among other facts are reasons why harmful drugs must be shunned. Formed by a former Students Unionist and social crusader, Mr. Peter Enaruke and several others, this organization is out to bring sanity to the larger society while speaking the language of the youths.

Palmer, a former newspaper Editor, Journalist and a Publicist, writes from Asaba

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