Wife of Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Patience Umo Eno has discouraged stigmatization of victims of drug abuse, describing such act as archaic way of dealing with such malady.
The Governor’s wife advocated for special care, support, rehabilitation and reintegration for victims of drug abuse.
Mrs. Eno made the advocacy Monday, at the commemoration of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and illicit trafficking in Uyo.
Pastor Patience Eno, who is the Chairperson Akwa Ibom State Drug Control Committee, noted that drug abuse could be reduced and prevented if youths are equipped with accurate information.
“We must focus on educating our youth, empowering them with accurate information and equipping them with life skills to resist the temptation of using drugs.”
The First Lady said stigmatization and discrimination hinders victims of drug abuse from seeking help and spoke of the need for a comprehensive prevention and rehabilitation programme.
“It is an opportunity for us to unite, raise awareness and work towards effective solutions to address the stigma and discrimination associated with substance abuse. Prevention programs should be comprehensive incorporating School-based initiatives, community outreach and targeted Campaigns that address the root causes of drug abuse.”
The Akwa Ibom State Governor’s wife also highlighted the need for collaboration among stakeholders and an evidence- based treatment and rehabilitation strategy.
“Furthermore, Strengthening prevention effort requires collaboration among government, CSOs, healthcare providers and other stakeholders. We must invest in accessible and evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation services that prioritize the well being of those affected by substance abuse.”
The First Lady applauded her predecessor Dr Martha Emmanuel for the strides recorded while chairing the Committee. She also commended the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA
for their effort at riding the society of drug induced crimes while urging all and sundry to partner with the committee to curb the menace of stigma and discrimination.
Also speaking, the Deputy Governor of the state, Senator Akon Eyakenyi,stressed the need for the campaign against the use of illicit substances to be taken to secondary schools, tertiary institutions, churches and markets to further create awareness at the level.
She assured that in line with the ARISE Agenda, the State government will “support efforts aimed at safeguarding the mental and physical health of Akwa Ibom people.”
Similarly, the State Commander of NDLEA, Mrs Obot Bassey, while reeling out the statistics of drug abuse and illicit trafficking, said that between May, 2021 to 2023, the agency arrested 600 drugs offenders, convicted about 180, rehabilitated 29 and reintegrated them into the society.
Heads of security agencies in the state took turns to speak on the need for collaboration and synergy to fight drug abuse, while lauding the effort of the NDLEA in curbing the effects of drug abuse in the society.
Highpoint of the event was the decoration of the governor’s wife, Pastor Patience Umo Eno as the Ambassador of NDLEA by the State Commander, Mrs. Obot Bassey.