Peter Sonibare

The Celebrity Drug-Free Club, a non-profit advocacy group, has urged the entertainment industry to join in the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria.

This was among the issues discussed to commemorate the United Nations International Drug Addiction and Illicit Trafficking Day, 2022.

The Club’s national coordinator, Wilson Ighodalo, said that he was confident that community intervention programmes would help the nation in curtailing drug problems.

The event, with the theme: “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crisis,” harps on the need for practitioners in the entertainment industry to avoid portraying drugs in music and movies.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abiodun Alabi, who was represented by a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Mr. Gbenga, said that the problem of the drugs in the Nigerian society could not be overemphasised.

He praised the NDLEA for its efforts in tackling the nation’s drug problem. He did, however, acknowledge the assistance of the police.

He also expressed his displeasure at the detrimental impact that drugs had on young people.

His words: “We cannot close our eyes to the fact we have to ensure that something tangible is done to our youth, to make them know the effect of these drugs on our society.”

The Zonal Commander H, Command, Assistant Commander General Narcotics, Mr. Segun Oke, acknowledged the influence of the entertainment industry, adding that the industry has a monumental effect and influence on members of the public.

He said: “We believe that in fighting against drug abuse the entertainment industry can help the agency in reducing some of the pressures.”

He pleaded with the entertainment sector to avoid sending incorrect messages while trying to amuse and entertain. “The best way to sell your content is that you have to be really careful in what you tell your followers. I know that you guys have a lot of followers as celebrities, however, in the process of doing what you are doing, we implore you not to send the wrong messages. And how you do it is that the content of what you give the public must deliberately take notice of whether there’s a drug abuse content.”

Some of the comedians and Nollywood actors and actresses at the event are; Kofi Idlwu, Nuel aka Koffi Da Guru, Artist and Ambassador of the NDLEA, Oziomachuwku Favour Chukwujama aka Ozzy Bosco, Halima Abubakar. Others are Owen G, Olufemi Herbert the Publisher, Celebrity Watch Magazine, Jide Awobona, and Grace Amah. Students of Babcock Secondary School were also at the conference.

Jide Awobona, a prominent Nollywood actor during the panel discussion, asked government parastatals to make entertainers their brand ambassadors and back them up with enough funds and motivation to fight drug abuse in society.

“If they actually make a few of us brand ambassadors, back it up with funds, give us that inspiration, give us that incentive, that will give us that energy to be able to do more gradually, it changes their mindsets.”

Koffi, during the panel discussion, asked for a shift in how the government approaches the drug war.

He argued that the government ought to do more and become more involved in the war on drugs.

He believed that the projection of what performers send could not be sufficient, stressing that the government should be concerned about proper censorship control on the content that is made available to members of the public.

He also wants to see organisations like the NDLEA working with the National Film and Video Censors Board and the National Broadcasting Company.

Gbenga Adeyinka aka Grand Comedian of Nigeria expressed his anger towards the NDLEA for not properly persecuting offenders.

He said: “I always tell my brother Ighodalo that I am angry with the NDLEA because nobody should be above the law. If it is me you catch with drugs, send me to jail! If they catch me on social media smoking, or sniffing cocaine send me to jail because all these young people are seeing it, and they will think it is acceptable. Arrest me no matter what people say and ensure you see the matter to the end. Where there are no repercussions people will think it is right.”

Another Nollywood actor, Victor Osuagwu, explained that having unemployed youths while battling the drug epidemic was dangerous. He worries that children will continue to participate in harmful vices unless there was a job available for them.

He urged the government to give young Nigerians work to fight the drug abuse epidemic.

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