9th National Youth Summit on Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention – Abuja, Nigeria

On November 28th and 29th, WFAD participated in the 9th National Youth Summit on Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention in Abuja, Nigeria, organised by the African Youths Initiative on Crime Prevention (AYICRIP). The Summit highlighted the need for prevention and the inclusion of youth in the matter.

In Nigeria, the number of youth [mis]using substances is increasing. Currently, 44% per cent of the population is engaged in substance use, of which 77% is youth and 1 in 10 users a woman. However, the government has not taken the necessary steps in order to strengthen prevention and offer services to treatment and there continues to be a high rate of criminal activities, mental health issues, and substance use.

Hence, the convener of the Summit, Amb. Chris Ibe shared the essence of this Summit and the need to bring youth leaders, academic leaders, policymakers, and Civil Society Organisations together and use this ninth edition to sustain the momentum and develop long-term solutions. Another keynote speaker of the Summit added that “you only know how much you are saving with prevention, once you have to spend the money for treatment”. There is a level of commitment needed to serve humanity, as highlighted by Dr Martin Agwogie, President of ISSUP Nigeria.

The Summit gathered a total of 437 participants, including a big group of youth and school children as well as policy makers and civil society organisations. The Summit left a trace of motivation and inspiration for the participants to partake in prevention activities within their communities and schools. The message by all speakers was directed to the youth, highlighting that their participation is required and essential as well as their right. Their positive influence on the community and among their peers will be core to the prevention of substance misuse. Additionally, the Summit shared information on the possibilities of recovery and how only with the support of the community, and with a holistic approach, the recovery journey of a person can be strengthened.

WFAD also contributed with a goodwill message, introducing the organisation and its aims and objectives, as well as a presentation on Protective Factors in Prevention and the need for Youth Participation.

Our International President, Amy Ronshausen, and Secretary-General, Regina Mattsson, were honoured to receive the award of “Outstanding Global Personality in Drug and Substance Prevention Education and Advocacy Award”. Similarly honoured was Cressida de Witte, Project Coordinator and Communication Manager, to have received the award of “Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention Youth Champion”.

After the Summit, we had dialogues with the Ambassador Swedish Embassy in Nigeria, Annika Hahn-Englund, the Director General Bureau of Public Service Reforms, D.I Arabi, and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The conversations were fruitful and showed interest in the activities conducted on prevention in Nigeria.

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