Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe”, says the theme of 2018 international Anti-Drug Day

The commemoration of 2018 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Abuja was a great day for the Nigerian children and youth. National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, which has been in the vanguard of the commemoration brought together students from several secondary schools within the Federal Capital Territory, along with youth corps members and people from all walks of life for the commemoration which held at the African Hall of International Conference Centre, Abuja.

Since 1988 that the United Nations designated June 26 of every year as international anti-drug day, Nigeria has been in the forefront of its commemoration. This annual awareness day was founded to highlight the dangers of drug use and their illegal trade and provide educational material to stakeholders all over the world to help amplify the message about the extreme cultural and economic harm the trade in drugs is still causing across the globe. It is also to sensitize member states to intensify their efforts at combating both drug demand and supply, while improving access to treatment for addicts.

The theme for commemoration has been consistently “Listen First”:  “Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe”. The repetition of the theme for three consecutive years is also deliberate to ensure that the message crystallizes and resonates among stakeholders and the vulnerable population. It clearly suggests that those whose responsibility it is to listen are not doing so effectively.

Hear the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (rtd.): “I do not find it amusing that parents who have the primary responsibility of listening to their wards have rather resorted to blaming teachers, pastors, imams, law enforcement agencies and even their children’s peers for their drug indulgence.” He further noted “Some parents are invariably too busy to listen but prefer to pursue careers and economic goals in the name of building a future for the same children that would grow to become drug dependent.”

Col. Abdallah added that the power of listening could not be overestimated. “It is not only preventive, it is reassuring and to some extent, curative. Through listening we can discern the mood, evaluate, judge and we can support and provide comfort aimed at better comprehension of the behavior of our children and young ones”, NDLEA boss noted at the grand event.

In his remark, the Special Guest of Honour at the event, Alhaji Muhammad Musa Bello, Minister of Federal Capital Territory, said that the children and youth deserved the attention of parents and other character molders if they must grow to be great leaders. The Minister launched a drug-free lifestyle badge by NDLEA with anti-drug inscriptions that will help to resonate anti-drug messages round institutions of learning across the country. The Minister took time to decorate the students with the badge with the messages: “Count on me to be drug free”, “It’s No Lie Drug Will Make Your Mama Cry”, among others.