Traditional leaders in Ado Local Government Area of Benue State, have vowed to team up with the House of Representatives Member Representing Ado/Ogbadibo/ Okpokwu Federal Constituency, Dr. Francis Otta Agbo, in the fight to eliminate illicit drug use and abuse of psychoactive substances in the area.
The traditional rulers who spoke during the third leg of the Advocacy and Sensitization Programme to highlight the dangers of illicit and narcotic drug use have also undertaken to take the campaign to their respective chiefdoms to deepen the call for users of drugs in their domains to abstain.
The sensitization exercise held at the premises of Samantha Lodge, Igumale on Wednesday, marked the climax of a three-day campaign against drug abuse by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) facilitated by Hon. Otta Agbo, who doubles as the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Narcotic Drugs and Spokesman of the Minority Caucus at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly.
Days earlier, similar events targeted at various groups of people including youths of school-going age were held in Okpokwu and Ogbadibo LGs during which no fewer than 1,000 persons were reached.
Speaking on the rationale behind the campaign, Hon Otta Agbo, popularly known as the Ozigizaga and Moving Train of Enone, said having influenced many key decisions that have advanced the fight against illicit and narcotic drug abuse across the entire country, he felt it is time to take the campaign to his constituency.
He said, “However, I felt the need to reach out to my people differently having seen that the cases of drug abuse were assuming a frightening dimension among them.
“The first step I took was to commission a survey to ascertain the true picture of drug use and abuse in the entire Enone axis. The result was shocking. So I approached the NDLEA impressing on them, the need to conduct an aggressive sensitization campaign against drug abuse in the area. The result is why we are here to speak to our consciousness and the minds of the young and older people among us that are indulging in drugs to quit and for those who have not to abstain.”
The Third Class Ruler of Ado, Chief Ogenyi Douglas Ocheme, who spoke on behalf of the traditional rulers in the area, commended Hon. Otta Agbo for the initiative.
Chief Ocheme said the sensitization exercise against drug abuse has the propensity to help the people of Ado and the entire Enone hold their heads high in any part of the world, like the pace setters of the past and present from the area.
“They say the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. But how would these leaders emerge if they are destroyed in their prime by illicit drugs?,” Chief Ocheme lamented.
While listing prominent sons of Ado like late Chief J.C. Obande, Late Chief Ernest Attah, Justice Ogebe, Chief Dan Agbese, Prof. Ochapa Onazi, Dr. Francis Otta Agbo, among others who have brought accolades to Ado, the traditional ruler said the youths must look at the paths created by these prominent sons and follow through, stressing that “if they do drugs, they would never rise to become as great as the people mentioned.”
NDLEA’s principal Staff Officer in Charge of Drug Demand Reduction (Rehabilitation), Benue State Command, Mrs Grace Goyol , in her presentation, noted that illicit drug abuse would be tamed in Ado and other localities if parents, community leaders and prominent members of the community rise up to the challenge.
“Hon. Otta Agbo has started what will take your communities in Ado to an enviable height. But parents, leaders, and every member of the LGA must see this as their problem and rise up to make his efforts count,” Mrs. Goyol said.
She said parents, communities leaders, teachers, mothers and everybody must open their eyes to observe and report every illicit drug activity in their domain for action by NDLEA noting that the NDLEA is concerned about prevention of illicit drug activities and rehabilitation of drug dependent people in the community.
Organizing Secretary of the Benue Councillors Forum and the only elected Female Councillor in Benue Zone ‘C’, Hon Patience Enotse Egwurube, used the occasion to call on women to support the campaign against drug abuse in Ado, hinting that they also need to use opportunities as this to raise women leaders of clean status to mount the stead as elected public officers.
She was joined by the Ado PDP women leader, Mercy Onumah, who noted that drug abuse is a menace that nobody would escape if allowed to fester.
Teachers, community leaders, youths and other members of the communities at the event commended Hon. Ottah Agbo for the initiative, saying the benefits are manifold. They have also pledged to take the message further as they return to their respective domains.