As part of its efforts to maintain peace in the region, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has stepped up its campaigns in all nine states that make up the Niger Delta region to prevent youth drug use and cult membership.
Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, the acting managing director of the NDDC, led commission representatives to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Wednesday. There, they educated students from various secondary schools in the state about the perils of cultism, drug abuse, and other social vices.
The commission also gave out educational tabs pre-loaded with one-year subscriptions and smart school bags to the students. It had previously held similar programs with support from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, in the states of Cross River and Akwa Ibom.
Audu-Ohwavborua, who was represented by the NDDC Director of Youths and Sports, Offiong Ephraim, at the one-day seminar tagged, “The Dangers of Drug Abuse and Cultism”, said apart from illicit drugs, students should abstain from taking even pharmaceutical drugs without prescriptions from medical experts.
According to Audu-Ohwavborua, there is a link between drug abuse and cultism. He emphasized that members of secret cults were constantly encouraged to engage in social vices while under the influence of drugs.
“Drugs and drug abuse have been a problem in this country,” he said. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult a doctor or medical professional before ingesting anything.
“But the use of illicit, illegal, and all types of drugs is the one that concerns us the most. We observed that even young people feel more pressure to act in that way than even adults.
Theophilus Alagoa, the Bayelsa State Director of the NDDC, repeatedly emphasized the need for students and other people to refrain from self-medication because it could result in their untimely death.
Some of us are accepting it, he said. In some cases, we even take supplements without a prescription. It's a serious situation.
The program was created to cover the nine states of the Niger Delta, according to Udengs Eradiri, special adviser to the NDDC boss on youths and sports, who spoke during the panel discussion.
Eradiri said the event offered a unique opportunity to educate the youths about the ills of drug abuse and cultism, [thereby] catching them young from secondary schools.
He said as an interventionist agency, it was the responsibility of the NDDC to develop and prepare the young ones for a better future and help them to avoid distractions associated with joining bad gangs.
He encouraged the students to spend their time on the educational tabs and warned them against selling the e-learning equipment.