By Friday Idachaba

Pastoral Resolve (PARE), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has called on religious leaders, traditional institution and the family to get fully involved in the fight against drugs abuse to address issues of conflicts, violence and crimes in the country.

Programme Manager of Pastoral Resolve Muhammad Munji Sanusi, made the call at the end of a two-day sensitisation programme for youths from communities in Lokoja Local Government of Kogi on Friday in Lokoja.

The sensitisation programme was themed, “Understanding Spiritual and Social Cultural Context of Drugs and Substance Abuse.”

Sanusi said the sensitisation programme was organised as part of the implementation of the PARE project, Community Initiatives to Promote Peace (CIPP), funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

He said that during the Organisation’s interface with communities under its Community Conflict Forum, drug abuse was identified as one of the key drivers of conflict and violence threatening coexistence.

“Conflict is a multi-faceted issue that has different manifestations. We try to address the issues from their root causes, from family level to the larger society with involvement of Faith Based Organisations, the Traditional Institution and law enforcement agencies.

“So, we resolved that it will be plausible to bring the youths together and sensitise them on the dangers of drug abuse, enlist the support and cooperation of their parents and peer groups.

“Here, we are not only using the NDLEA which is the agency of government responsible for addressing drug matters but also looking at how religious leaders can speak to the youths from religious perspectives on the dangers of drug abuse.

“We brought the religious people to talk to the youths about what the divine books say on drugs abuse, whether it is allowed or prohibited. Failure to address this issue from the roots will amount to killing a snake without cutting off its head.

“The traditional people were also here to tell our youths from the various communuties whether our cultural background or social norms allow the use of prohibited drugs and substances”, he said.

Senior Programmes Officer for PARE Mr Israel Edwin Okpe,
said, “We want to use this platform to make youths to understand that violence is not always the best and there are several alternatives to address most of their issues.

He therefore, advised the youth to engage in skill acquisition programmes that could be helpful in sustaining their livelihood rather than waiting on government to provide them with jobs.

According to Okpe, the organisation has been working in Nigeria for the past 12 years and currently implementing the CIPP, a 5-year program being implemented in six states – Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Benue and Plateau states.

Pastor Matthew Aliyu, one of the clergymen at the occasion, told the youths that all religions allow one to go to the hospital for treatment and to be administered drugs when sick but it was wrong to take drugs without prescription and sinful to indulge in abuse.

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