MTN Foundation says it has entered into partnership with other organisations in its bid to rid the society of the menace of drug abuse.
Its Chairman, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, made this known in a statement issued by the organisation in Lagos on Monday.
Adelusi-Adeluyi stressed the need for collaboration among corporate organisations in Nigeria to successfully fight against substance abuse.
According to the statement, he spoke at a virtual event to commemorate the 2020 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in partnership with Business Day, MTV Base Africa, and Netng.
It featured in-depth discussion from professionals across various sectors including health, entertainment, business as well as the public sector.
Adelusi-Adeluyi said: “Through the Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP), the MTN Foundation hopes to communicate the urgency required to tackle the growing menace of drug abuse in our society.
“Our aim is to create a drug-free Nigeria in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. We are happy that various guilds, organisations and active centres have come together to support this cause.
“It is our duty to build a healthier and cleaner community for Nigerians and this can only be done through an alliance against drug abuse.”
Also, the statement quoted the Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare, as decrying the rising rate of substance abuse and advised on policies that can be implemented.
“We need laws that will criminalise the selling of these drugs to under-aged children. We must institutionalise the process of drug education from primary to secondary school in a consistent and deliberate manner.”
“We need a system that rewards best practices and punishes bad conduct, to the maximum. The youth have a responsibility just as the government, it’s a two-way partnership”, Dare said in the statement.
In his remarks, the Country representative of UNODC, Oliver Stolpe, said over 20 million Nigerians from age 15 and above admitted to having used drugs at least once between 2018 and 2019.
“Of this figure, three million required some form of medical attention as a result of substance abuse,” Stolpe said.
MTN Foundation has invested over #21 billion in various community-based and youth-focussed initiatives since its inception in 2004.
In 2018, the Foundation set up the Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) as a behavioural change intervention.
It was hinged on awareness, advocacy, information and resource dissemination, stakeholders engagement and empowerment, as tools to curb the prevalence of substance abuse and addiction in Nigeria.
So far, 13.5 million people have been impacted by this initiative and an estimated sum of N247 million has been invested.