The prevalence of drug abuse in Nigeria and its negative impact on public health and safety underscored the need for all hands to be on deck in order to curtail the challenge.
Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya, made the remark at a meeting of all Secretaries of State Governments in the Northeast held at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Gombe.
Speaking at the meeting, Yahaya said the abuse of drugs propels the development of crime and criminality within the sub region, which compelled the forum to take decision in order to reduce and eventually put a stop to the unfortunate development.
He challenged the governors of the North-east states “to join forces with major stakeholders, especially the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to stem the ugly trend of drug abuse in the region.”
He said: “It is a known fact that the North-east has passed through what can best be described as horrific and traumatic experiences as a result of the Boko Haram Insurgency that almost paralyzed its socio economic activities.
“We must do everything humanly possible to curb the influx of narcotics and illicit drugs into the North-east. This will help in the fight against insurgency. It is a known fact that drug menace supports terrorism and other nefarious activities.
“Let me also reiterate that the government is fully aware of the contributions of our traditional, community and religious leaders in all security matters. I call on you not to relent on your oars by drawing the attention of security agencies on any breach of peace within your domains and areas of jurisdiction.”
The governor challenged the community leaders, religious bodies and voluntary organisations to as a matter of urgency, embark on drug abuse enlightenment, treatment and prevention campaigns in order to stop the ugly trend.
Yahaya, however, said his administration “is specifically taking the issues of drug abuse critically. The state governments as with other stakeholders are intensifying efforts at tackling the problems to stem the slipping slope that many youths who dabble into drugs are heading to.”
He, therefore, commended the North-east Governors Forum for the foresight and commitment to handle any detrimental challenge to the overall improvement in the living conditions of our people.
He said: “As you have all converged here, I urge you to join hands with the relevant agencies and explore the wealth of experiences you all have in order to combat this ugly trend that prevails within the sub region”.
“There is no better time than now for all relevant stakeholders to rise and join the crusade to make our region and Nigeria a better and safer place of living, especially for the youths, who are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Yahaya then expressed the hope that the secretaries to the state governments and other stakeholders involved in this meeting will deliberate exhaustively on the theme of the meeting and come up with robust, viable and implementable resolutions for the benefit of the people.
The Director-General, North-east Governors Forum, Senator Abba Aji said the synergy among the governors “is yielding meaningful results especially in a region that has suffered the monumental effect of insurgency.”
Aji, therefore, called for more of such collaborations across the North-east in order to rid the region of crimes and criminality.
In his welcome address, the Secretary to the Gombe State Government, Prof. Abubakar Njodi said the meeting was sequel to a directive by the governors of the region during their last session in Damaturu, where they observed the unfortunate development of the rise in drug and substance abuse.
Njodi, also Chairman of the North-East SSGs Forum noted that the meeting was expanded “to include heads of security agencies and NDLEA in the geo-political zone in order to brainstorm and share ideas on the best way to tackle the alarming rate of drug abuse in the society.”