Director, of Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin, Mr Kunle Akogun has stressed the need for more aggressive media sensitisation to tackle the menace of drug abuse and internet fraud by the youths
Mr Akogun made the call at the Prudent Watch Annual Lecture on Saturday in Ilorin Kwara State.
He said, “It is no more news that drug abuse is a serious public health issue. Adolescent drug abuse has become one of the most discussed health-related issues in Nigeria today. Several school-aged teenagers face mental health issues, which can last for a short time or for a long time. As a result of the deleterious effects of drug abuse, some youths become psychopathic, and ill-adjusted to educational conditions, and eventually quit school.
“Other effects of drug abuse include widespread violence, armed robbery, petty theft (especially to get money to enable addicts to have unbroken access to the drugs), brigandage, rape etc as a result of unlimited boldness while ‘high’ on the drugs. It also promotes anti-social behaviours and spread of diseases, especially HIV/AIDS through the unconscionable sharing of needles, etc with which they ingest drugs intravenously.”
Mr Akogun who also reiterated the effects of internet fraud on personal finances and the national economy said
“Internet use by some unscrupulous Nigerians, generally known as ‘Yahoo Boys’, has come with fraudulent acts and this has put the country under undue scrutiny at the global level, leading to devastating international image fiasco. At entry points of major countries in the world, Nigerian travellers carrying green passports are often singled out for dehumanising immigration screening processes.
Many foreign businessmen now view business proposals from Nigerians with great suspicion. This has resulted in trade losses for many genuine and honest international businessmen in the country.”
“Many Nigerians have also lost their hard-earned money and property to internet fraudsters.” He added
“Therefore, the role of the media in society is multi-faceted and pivotal. It catalyzes change, providing information, shaping opinions, and raising awareness on critical issues. The media is the custodian of public interest. Thus, it should focus on performing the noble role of enlightening people, broadening their vision and making them vigilant towards the larger goal of creating a civilized and prosperous society.”
“Some of the reasons for which adolescents abuse drugs and other illicit substances include a lack of knowledge about the dangers of the substances, a demonstration of personal freedom, peer pressure, satisfying curiosity, poor self-confidence, failure to sustain inter-personal communications, and stress relief.
One of the best ways of discouraging more youths from indulging in illicit drug intake is through sensitisation, making them aware of the dangerous effects that hard drug consumption could have on them, and also letting them know that taking drugs will just make them forget their problems for a short while, but would never solve them.
The youths must be made to understand that facing their problems frontally by engaging themselves in productive ventures is what would bring about expected solutions.
Media efforts in this regard should not only be concentrated on the youths alone, even though they are the primary target. The parents too need to be sensitised on the need for them to help in winning the fight against drug abuse among their wards. The media should educate the parents on the need to communicate with their children effectively, i.e., they should not just see themselves as parents only, but also as friends to their children.
Parents should also be encouraged, through massive media sensitisation, to start inculcating in their children early in life, the essence of responsible and healthy living.
There is a compelling need to wean the youth from bad companies and undesirable mentors. In this guise, the media should continuously let young people know that what they do today will affect what they become tomorrow. And as such, they should be made to understand what being responsible and what healthy living is all about.
They should get themselves good mentors, who will guide them properly.
The media also have the responsibility of educating young people that they do not necessarily have to look up to celebrities as role models because sometimes the public lives of those they consider celebrities are different from their private lives.
Another way by which the media can help in reducing the incidence of drug abuse is through a more positive deployment of our investigative journalism expertise.
We can wean our youths, who are already into drugs, by trying to find out their reasons for venturing into such habit. Once this is done, counsellors should try and tackle these reasons because different people have different reasons for venturing into different things.
Essentially, the mass media should be more creative in their content and some cases, they should employ persuasive communication to be able to influence a good number of youths positively and make them shun drug abuse.
The mass media is sometimes blamed by some people, and even rightly so, for heavily popularising drug use through an unwholesome focus on so-called celebrities who are known drug addicts in their reportage. To effectively take up their moral obligation and role of being society’s moral compass, the media should de-emphasise their focus on these social misfits and self-acclaimed celebrities and role models if not for any other thing but for the fact that they are exerting too many negative influences on the youths.
While underlining the dangers of drug use, the media must also provide information about available aid centres. Given this, there is an urgent need for a large-scale media campaign to disseminate information about the negative repercussions, legal provisions, and the availability of therapeutic and counselling services for the treatment and social rehabilitation of identified drug addicts.
In exercising its much-vaunted agenda-setting role, the mass media should set the tone and be the driving force behind a well-coordinated national drug awareness campaign. It should highlight both macro and micro factors leading to the existence of this menace, as well as encourage community participation in preventing the malaise from getting worse.
Because of its extensive impact on public opinion, the media can assist in establishing a regular assessment of the extent and scope of drug use and abuse, as well as drug-related problems in the country.” He said
“I want to seize this opportunity to commend the Kwara State government and the University of Ilorin for their sustained efforts in combating drug abuse and internet fraud within their respective areas of jurisdiction. With its zero tolerance for anti-social behaviour among its students, the University of Ilorin has done a lot to reduce the incidents of this social malaise, especially among the student populace and within the environs of the school’s immediate host community.
On its part, the Kwara State government is also doing a lot in the area of trying to curb the menace of drug abuse in the state. Just recently, the government initiated a meeting with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on the need to commence a massive sensitisation campaign all over the state to tackle the root causes of drug abuse and raise public awareness about its detrimental effects in the society.”
Also speaking Rafiu Ajakaye
Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara State Governor who was represented by Mashood, Abdulrafiu Agboola Deputy CPS Government House Ilorin who spoke on
“The Role of Media in Promoting Community Development.” said “Dare say that the role of media in community development cannot be overstated. As we witness the positive impact of the media in informing, engaging, and preserving our cultural identity, it becomes imperative to call for even greater mobilization.
Let us recognize and appreciate the transformative power of media in building stronger, more resilient communities. Together, through informed discourse and cultural preservation, we can pave the way for a future where media continues to be a beacon of positive change.
Let me remind you of an intervention the present administration made in Agindigbi and Onila communities near Agbamu in the Irepodun local government area where some women (beneficiaries of the federal government’s conditional cash transfer) were contributing from their stipends to construct school buildings.
The BBC brought this to the attention of the world, and His Excellency Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq went to the two communities, refunded what they had contributed, completed the construction and provided them with other social amenities. There have been other examples of such. This is the power of the media and how it can influence developments in our communities.
Media should continue to spotlight activities at the grassroots level with much emphasis on the promotion of self-help projects, the right values, communal ownership of government properties and influence amenities that can easily aid development in various communities.
Finally, as different discussants speak to the menace of drug abuse in our communities, I assert that the media, especially the new media, can play important roles in stamping out the evolving crisis. Together, let’s join the advocacies against drug abuse and the associated crimes.
Let us say something if we see something. Stakeholders’ activism should not just be about putting the government on its toes, which is a good thing; let all of us use our powerful media tools to speak against and discourage unhelpful developments in our families and communities where the whole crisis of drug abuse begins.
I pray that God will heal us and our communities. But we must help ourselves by speaking up against all harmful conducts and nudging the doers against such.”
Highpoint of the programme was the presentation of awards to some outstanding political office holders in the state.
I express my gratitude to the Almighty, the Lord of the World, for His blessings and mercies upon us. Today, as we gather to witness the 3rd Annual Lecture of Prudent Watch Media titled “GUARDIAN OF INTEGRITY: Media’s Role in Combating Youth Fraud and Substance Abuse,” I reflect on our journey from inception to this significant moment.
Prudent Watch Media, with a primary focus on News, Media, and Public Relations, has established its worth by the grace of God. This success is attributed to our dedicated staff who consistently go above and beyond to ensure the brand’s prosperity.
As of today, December 9th, we have published over 7000 news reports, including various categories, as well as PR articles for our clients. We’ve garnered over 30,000 clicks on different links, with an average of 3000 daily readers. We take pride in being one of Kwara and Nigeria’s most reliable news platforms, delivering accurate and well-written reports.
Our current emphasis is on local news, covering incidents and events within Kwara State and extending to national news when necessary. Additionally, we report on international news trends as they arise.
Looking ahead, we aim to provide you with precise, articulated local, national, and international news. To enhance our services, we plan to venture into Digital Journalism by launching Prudent TV and Prudent FM, ensuring effective Human Interest Journalism without compromising Digital dividends.
With your continued support, we will achieve our new projections shortly. We appreciate your ongoing journey with us and reaffirm our commitment to delivering improved services.
Thank you, and may the Lord be with you always, easing your affairs (Amin).
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