Report on the Just Concluded Training on Drug Policy and Harm Reduction in Oyo State, NIGERIA
The Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Nigeria, in a bid to introduce, train and educate students and youths on drug policies, harm reduction and related issues organized a one-day regional training on drug policy and harm reduction for youths and different students’ organizations in Oyo State, Nigeria. This event which was the first of its kind by the SSDP in Nigeria was targeted at the students and youths in the South-western part of Nigeria.
First, participants were welcomed by Adeniyi Moronfolu who is an SSDP leader in Nigeria, giving them an overview of the programme by introducing the vision, mission and work of SSDP. He also highlighted the objectives of the training as well as revised the drug law and drug policies in Nigeria. Following this, Dr. Chidobi Somtochukwu Basil Jeffrey addressed and gave a break-down of what drugs are and the different classes of drugs. He went further to define hard drugs and substances. Also, certain terminologies were defined and explained namely; Drug abuse, Tolerance, Dependence and Addiction and Withdrawal. These were related to social vices like cultism, kidnapping, robbery and gangsterism. His teaching however did not end without elucidating on ways to help people who are involved in this, even people who do not know they are abusing and/or addicted to one drug or the other.
Thereafter, Dabota Pepple, another invited guest speaker, gave a talk on the mode of administration of some of these hard substances and its health implications. In line with this, she elaborated on the sharing of sharps among substance abusers leading to spread of diseases like HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis. As an illustration, this was demonstrated harmlessly with a syringe and tourniquet. Mr. Olanrewaju Ismaeel, another speaker present diversified on the biased nature of the drug policies in Nigeria and the need for justice across board as some highly placed individuals (drug cartels) are ‘untouchable’ whereas others are the ‘scape goats and sacrificial lambs’. Advice was given on advocacy and activism when the voice of the youths needs to be heard.
The last presenter, Lilian David, a freedom enthusiast, serial entrepreneur and sustainable developmental policy advocate and a local coordinator with ‘African Student for Liberty’ was on ground to share the benefits of voluntarism and made some recommendations. In addition, she clamored that youths should be involved in every step of decision and policy making in governance across Africa. She finally enjoined youths to be entrepreneurial and invited female participants to join her at women for liberty network as opportunities for women abound.
At the conclusion stage, Mr Moronfolu Adeniyi encouraged participants to join hands in tackling the menace of drug abuse and addiction as well as brainstorm on actionable plans to aid the development of the south-western region and Nigeria at large. This is in line with UNGASS 2016. The resource persons responded to questions by participants as some participants made some inputs. The event however was anchored by Mr Adeagbo Adebowale who also gave the vote of thanks as he appreciated and thanked everyone who came. He expressed gratitude to the team members who contributed immensely in making the event a success.
The Objectives and aim of the Training were to:
1. Introduce to participants, the mission, vision and functions of the Students’ for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).
2. Enlighten young adolescents on drug abuse and addiction with its attendant harm and the way forward in ameliorating the problems.
3. Increase students’/youths’ participation and awareness on issues relating to drug policies.
4. Identify and discuss drug policies in the region and proffer solution.
5. Serve as an avenue to increase the numerical strength of SSDP in Nigeria.
Key Quotes from the Training
· There should be respect for the fundamental rights of the people to be able to express their concerns and opinion with equal treatment irrespective of gender, class or race. -Lilian David.
· Drug user shouldn’t be criminalized, stigmatized, brutalized, or deprived of their rights at work or in the society. – Moronfolu Adeniyi.
· It is never too late to open up and seek for help as the saying goes ‘A problem shared is half solved.’ – Dr Chidobi Somtochukwu B.J.