Nigerian Government Commits to Address Child and Youth Drug Abuse in Niger State

The Nigerian government says it is taking practical steps to tackle drug and substance abuse, especially among vulnerable young people.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Advisor for Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, said this on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day stakeholder workshop to mark the implementation of the Children at Risk Program (ARC- P) in Niger State.

Details of the event have been shared with PREMIUM TIMES via a statement personally signed by Ms. Uwais.

Ms. Uwais, who is the facilitator of the ARC-P program, an initiative of the Federal Government under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President, said the Federal Government working with the NDLEA, UNODC and relevant stakeholders were making interventions to deter illegal activities. and painful habit and practice.

Ms Uwais said that with the support of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), ARC-P has created a National Office that works with the program’s state offices to educate young people about the many dangers of drug addiction, while setting up support and reintegration structures for those who are already dependent.

The ARC-P was launched in January 2021 to address the “concerns of children at risk and provide them with a dignified life”.

The program is structured to carry out the necessary interventions in all 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). ARC-P is currently active in five states, including Gombe, Sokoto, Ekiti, Kaduna and Borno.

“I must mention that substance abuse is like the elephant in the room in efforts to address the vulnerabilities associated with young people. We find too many young people, including women, engaging in this unacceptable behavior even in our rural communities,” Ms Uwais said.

“Those who cannot afford the expensive heroin and cocaine quickly switch to cheaper alternatives which are readily available. the NDLEA which accompanies us to involve young people who already use illicit drugs, with a view to dissuading them from this unhealthy practice by offering them viable alternatives in the form of acquisition of skills to enable them to become productive,” he said. she declared.

FG remains committed to tackling substance abuse among children

While presenting the objectives and roadmap of ARC-P to the stakeholders gathered for the workshop in Niger State, the Presidential Assistant explained that the program is based on seven pillars which have been carefully chosen to equip beneficiaries with the foundational knowledge and life skills that will enable them to actively participate in and take charge of their own lives.

Ms Uwais, who underscored the value of education in the mental development of children, told stakeholders that the ARC-P initiative is not creating anything new and will continue to use existing structures in the States and the FCT to carry out its mandate to address universal issues facing vulnerable children and out-of-school youth.

“We are not looking to replace what happens in primary schools, rather we are working with UBEC, using their master trainers on an intensive program that introduces these children to basic literacy and numeracy.

“Connecting to classroom activities is important for those who have never been to school, so this interim ‘pre-induction’ course facilitates a basic appreciation of critical elements for these children.

“Again, let me emphasize that we are not trying to suppress the Islamic education already being taught to children currently in Tsangaya schools, as Islamic knowledge is essential to our faith, imbibing the core values ​​of life.

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“We’re just trying to make sure they have the knowledge that would enable them to become more productive in a rapidly developing and highly competitive world. It is important that children have skills to help them meet the challenges of this high-tech age,” she said.

Nigeria currently has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world with an estimated 13.2 million, according to a 2018 survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Most of these children are in Nigeria’s northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, where Boko Haram insecurity has disrupted school activities.

Niger State will benefit immensely

In her remarks, Amina Abubakar-Bello, the wife of the Governor of Niger State, expressed her gratitude to President Buhari for the ARC-P initiative, which she said sparked the partnership to address the plight of the vulnerable youth and out-of-school children in the state.

She added that while the state is already moving in this direction, it is always open to new ideas and solutions to address the conditions faced by at-risk children in the state.

The Governor’s wife also expressed hope that ARC-P will have a significant influence on Niger State and projected that it would help around 15,000 underprivileged children in its first two stages of implementation.

Ms. Bello spoke out against the high level of substance abuse among young people in the state, expressing hope that much of the problem will be addressed through the strategic intervention of ARC-P.

Niger State Government Secretary Ahmed Matane was among the senior government officials who attended the opening of the two-day workshop.

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