THE House of Representatives member representing Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu Federal Constituency, Dr Francis Otta Agbo, has said he is committed to winning the war against drug abuse in order to save the youths in his constituency and beyond from the harmful effects of the menace.
Dr Ottah Agbo, who is the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Narcotic Drugs, disclosed this on Tuesday while declaring open the first of three sensitisation workshops on drug abuse for youths in his constituency at Okpoga, headquarters of Okpokwu LGA of Benue State.
A press statement by Mr Andrew Agbese, Special Adviser on Media to Dr Francis Ottah Agbo quoted the lawmaker as stating in his opening remarks at the flag-off held at the OJ Multipurpose Centre in Okpoga, that the campaign forms part of the conscious decision he has taken to ensure his immediate constituency and the entire Benue Zone C senatorial zone of Benue State is rid of illicit drug activities.
He said: “Having been at the forefront of debates on the floor of the National Assembly and efforts that have led the government to take critical decisions towards elimination of drug abuse in the country as chairman of the House Committee on Narcotic Drugs, I would be pained to see that my people would be under the perpetual negative effect of the menace of illicit drug use and substance abuse.
“So I thought it wise that charity must start from home, hence I pitched the idea of a sensitisation/advocacy programme to curb narcotics drug addiction among our people. And here we are to ensure that our children and parents are not subjects of drug abuse.”
Dr Ottah Agbo, who is the spokesman of the Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives, used the occasion to restate that he would use his position and time at the Green Chamber to continue to pursue and attract programmes that are beneficial to his constituency and constituents.
Popularly known as the Ozigizaga and the Moving Train of Enone, Dr Ottah Agbo said since his election as a federal lawmaker and emergence as chairman, House Committee on Narcotic Drugs, he has instigated key changes that have aided the NDLEA and other federal government agencies bestowed with the task of fighting drug abuse to perform their roles better.
He added that it is time for all to join hands to fight the menace of drug addiction among youths as it is capable of endangering the lives of the most productive component of the population. He stressed that “if we do not kill drug addiction, drug addiction will kill us.”
Dr Ottah Agbo urged the youths to take the sensitisation programme seriously so as to be useful to themselves, their families and the society at large.
The Assistant Commander of Narcotics and Principal Staff Officer in charge of Drug Demand Reduction Unit of the Benue State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Mrs Grace Goyol, who was at the programme, attested to the strides made by Hon. Otta Agbo while making a presentation on the dangers of drug abuse.
Mrs Goyol described Dr Ottah Agbo as an asset to the people of Benue State and the country at large.
While restating the lawmaker’s stand on illicit drug use, Mrs Goyol noted that the strong arm of the law would not spare any member of the society that is caught using psychoactive substance and other drugs in a manner that is not legally prescribed.
“Yes drugs were made for the purpose of curing certain kinds of ailments. But any attempt to use them for the wrong reason would attract the wrath of the law and such a person is liable,” the NDLEA official said, adding that Tramadol, Codeine, Cannabis, alcohol and others are commonly abused substances with negative effects on the individuals and the immediate environment.
The message on drug abuse resonated with the youths, mothers and even traditional rulers who made commitments to become ambassadors and advocates of a drug free Zone C.
One of the participants, Master Okoh John Paul, a Senior Secondary School 1 student at Chief Akoh International Academy, Okpoga, who spoke on drug abuse, promised to be a champion of the campaign against drug abuse among his peers.
Traditional rulers present at the occasion made commitments to make campaign against drug abuse a constant part of what they would be telling their subjects.
Hon. Patience Egwurube, the only elected female Councillor in Zone C (Igumale Ward 2) who is the Organising Secretary, Benue State Councillors Forum, in her remarks, noted that more female inclusion in politics and public office would deepen the campaign to reduce and eliminate drug abuse in the state.
The sensitisation programme was organised as a sequel to findings from a Survey on Narcotics which revealed high use and abuse of narcotic drugs in the constituency.
The study was personally commissioned by Dr Ottah Agbo to ascertain the level of the problem beyond anecdotal narratives as latitude for intervention.
Convinced that the stories of high drug use and abuse across the three LGAs of Ado, Ogabdibo and Okpokwu were not mere conjectures, Dr Otta Agbo approached the NDLEA in his capacity as the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Narcotic Drugs to take the campaign against abuse of drugs and psychoactive substances to all nooks and cranny of the three LGAs that make up his constituency.