Imo Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, on Thursday in Owerri, called for a drug-free Nigeria to ensure the safety of future generations in the country.
He made the call at a South-East advocacy workshop on Drug and Substance Abuse organized by Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) for Codeine Control and other Related Matters Working Group (CCRWG).
The governor, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Media Affairs, Mr Steve Osuji, said that if unchecked, drug abuse was capable of leaving Nigeria with many kidney failure cases in the near future.
“We must advocate the fight against drug and substance abuse in Imo and Nigeria because our future generation must be in safe hands.
“If nothing is urgently done to curb this menace, cases of kidney failure will definitely skyrocket, thus becoming more difficult to handle,” he said.
Welcoming participants earlier, PCN Registrar, Mr Elijah Mohammed, had said that abuse of narcotics and psychotropics had assumed a frightening dimension in Nigeria.
He, therefore, said that the workshop was aimed at providing an interactive platform for discouraging indiscriminate use of medicines with potential to promote criminality.
“Our goal is to explore and promote economic development potential among Nigerian youths and help them appreciate that it is profitable to live a healthy life without necessarily engaging in indiscriminate use of illicit substances,” Mohammed said.
In a keynote address, Chairman of CCRWG and Dean, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Studies, University of Ibadan, Prof. Oluwatoyin Odeku, urged school children to resist pressure to abuse drugs from their peers.
She called on government at all levels to partner PCN in its activities, and appealed to the Federal Government to allow the Council access to drug issues across the country.
Also speaking, former Olympic gold medallist and PCN Ambassador, Chioma Ajunwa-Opara, said that a research conducted in the South-East revealed that 1.5 million persons in the zone used drugs in 2018.
She said that the figure represented 13.8 per cent of the population in the area.
Ajunwa-Opara, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, however, said that though drugs killed, they were also useful for healing when administered by qualified medical personnel.
She advised youths not to be unnecessarily curious to discover drugs, adding that “drug abuse is a menace and cankerworm”.
It was reported that the event was attended by stakeholders in the health sector, including the Commandant, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Imo, Mr Nse Inam.