By Chimezie Godfrey
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has urged the Nigerian mass media to educate the public on the ills of drug and substance abuse.
The Minister made the call at a Media Orientation on National Awareness on Drugs and Substance Abuse held at Merit House, Abuja on Tuesday.
She described the media as a major agent of socialization as well as a viable tool for disseminating information on the ills of drug and substance abuse.
She said,”The role and importance of media as a viable tool for informing and educating people across groups and demographics especially on Drugs and substance abuse in our society cannot be over emphasized.
“As you are aware, substance abuse is increasing at an alarming rate, deteriorating the health of nations, increasing crime, hampering productivity, destroying relationships, eroding social and moral values and impeding the overall progress of societies”.
Farouq noted that young people were increasingly becoming victims of substance abuse, hence the urgent need for the mass media to propagate the disadvantages of the use of substances and hard drugs.
“The potential power of the mass media has helped in solving social problems.
“Television, radio and print advertising have been used overtime to influence our ideas, values and behaviour.
“The continuous abuse of drugs has led to a situation of drug addiction and criminality.
“The effects of drug abuse is detrimental not only to the individual but to the society as a whole, therefore, the use of campaigns by the mass media to reduce health and other related social problems in the society is very critical.
“The potential of mass media campaigns lies in their ability to propagate simple and focused messages to large audiences repeatedly, over time, at a low cost per capita.
“It is also assumed that they are able to reach a large and heterogeneous proportion of the population,” she said.
The Minister also urged the media to remain steadfast in the accurate reportage of helpful information that will promote peace and unity of the nation.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary Bashir Nura Alkali reiterated the negative consequences of substance abuse on the society especially on youths.
Alkali who was represented by the Director Human Resource Management, Mr Abdulrahaman Babatunde Jaji urged the mass media to join hands in stamping out substance and drug abuse.
“The abuse of alcohol and other drugs by youths may result in family crises and jeopardize many aspects of family life, which sometimes result in family dysfunction. Therefore, the collaborative effort of all stakeholders is needed as no one alone can control it.
“The problem is on the increase especially in the conflict zones of the country which is a serious threat to our national sanctity. Based on these findings, prevention advocates would look to the mass media as an important aid in addressing the problem of Drugs and Substance abuse,” he stressed.
In her closing remark, the Director Social Development, Dr Dorothy Nwodo thanked the participants and other stakeholders for their contributions in ensuring a robust awareness on drugs and substance abuse.
She also implored the media to keep up efforts towards projecting and actualizing the Ministry’s mandates.
Other participants were representatives of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, the Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Media.