Lagos takes campaign against drug abuse and cultism to schools.


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In a bid to rid the society of drug abuse and cultism and also create a better future for the youth, the Lagos state government through the Special Adviser Office of Civic Engagement, Lagos, Princess Aderemi Adebowale has embarked on a sensitization programme aimed at educating students on the effect of drug abuse and cultism.

The programme Tagged: ‘The effects of drug and Cultism among our youth – My vision 2050’, held between May 19 – 21 at Sanya Secondary School, Ijesha; State Senior High School, Ipaja and Oreyo Senior Secondary School, Igbogbo respectively had in attendance students, NGOs and the private sector.

Speaking on behalf of governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during the 3-day programmes, Adebowale bemoaned the rate of cultism in both secondary schools and higher institutions across the country. Hence, the need for a concerted effort to curb this social menace by the government.

“Across the country, it is not unusual to hear news of deadly cult wars that left in its trails wanton destruction of properties and sometimes lives. Such attacks do not portray our society in a positive light. Since development only thrives in a peaceful and conducive environment, the dastardly activities of these cult warriors not only impede development, they also depict our society in bad light,” she began.

“The predominance of cultism in higher institutions across the country has become alarming and it has caused a lot of damages ranging from destruction of academic calendars, loss of lives and properties, unsafe and inhabitable environment within and sometimes outside the school’s vicinity. It has therefore become imperative that there must be concerted effort to curb this social menace by the government. The government has tried to clamp down on cultism by publicly creating awareness of the ills created by cult groups in the society and even as far as publicizing the punishment for culprits when apprehended.

“It has been established by sociologists that there is a nexus between drug abuse and violence, it is therefore important that as a responsible government we cannot fold our arms and allow the lives of our promising youths to degenerate to an abysmal level of critical substances abuse & violence. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.

“This philosophy reflects the Office of Civic Engagement belief that raising a civically responsible citizenry begins from conception, infanthood to adulthood. This strategy informs our womb to school initiative (a preparedness preventive security programme) As a responsible and responsive government, we are very passionate with our quest to raise morally upright and civically responsible citizens.

“Being the nation’s commercial and economic nerve centres, Lagos has had its own fair share of shameless cult battles. In places such as Ikorodu, Somolu, Bariga, Mushin and Ojota amongst others, activities of cultists have become a source of worry to the state government and the citizens.

She also noted the governor’s effort at curbing the menace one of which is the recently signed bill for the Prohibition of Unlawful Societies and Cultism of 2021 into law, approving a 21-year jail term for convicted cultists in the State.

The anti-cultism law repeals the Cultism (Prohibition) Law of 2007 (now Cap. C18, Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015) and provides for more stringent punitive measures, as well as makes its application all-encompassing and applicable to the general public, as against the restriction of the previous law to students of tertiary institutions.

According to her, “the state had suffered the negative effects of unlawful societies and cultism, stressing that the new law sought to make parents more responsible and show more interest in the upbringing of their children and wards to ensure that they do not become a burden to the society”.

“In February, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed the anti-cultism bill, which stipulated a 15-year jail term for anyone found guilty of abetting cultists and residents who willfully allowed their property to be used as meeting points by cultists. The passing of the new law by the State House of Assembly as well as the speedy ascent to the same by Mr. Governor, no doubt, underscores the government’s resolve to bluntly address the evil of cultism in the state.”

However, Princess Adebowale admonished parents to see the task as a collective one which we should rise up agains in our society.

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She said: “For the new Law to achieve its mission, which is the elimination of cultism in the state, every stakeholder must be on the same page with the government. No matter how good the plans of the government for the citizenry are, if the government does not get sufficient buy-in from the people such will amount to nothing.

“Lagos State structured its fight against drug abuse around the Inter-ministerial Drug Abuse Committee that consists of Ministries of Health, Youth and Social Development, Information and Strategy, Transportation, Education, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Lagos Television. Commendably, Lagos State has established a drug-free club and included drug abuse in its school curriculum to target the school pupils/students. The Lagos state anti-drug war has always attracted support from National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and private sectors as reliable allies.

“As the Sanwo-Olu administration continues with its developmental strides across the state, there is an urgent need for all stakeholders to join hands with the government by promoting youth-friendly initiatives that could help channel the bursting energy of the youth into positive use.

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To sustain current developmental strides in the state, residents must decide to give peace a chance by cultivating attitudes that attract development.

Perhaps more importantly, youths across the state should be challenged by the successes of some of their colleagues in diverse fields of life, who in-spite of all the odds have become reference points in their chosen fields. There is enough for the youth to explore and achieve in sports, entertainment and ICT among other such spheres of life.

“The State Government under the leadership of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is determined not to allow the menace of drug abuse and cultism fritter away the bright future of our students. We will ensure that the future of our children is secured by early nipping in the board of the perils of all social vises capable of marring their lives, I urge you student to continue to obey your parents, teachers and shun bad company as this is the only way in which we can support the government efforts to make us successful and civically responsible citizens in the future.”

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