By Muhammad Auwal
Kano State Government has disclosed plans to set up an agency in partnership with MTN Nigeria, a major GSM operator to fight substance abuse in the state.
The Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Ms Nonny Ugboma made this known in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos.
According to her, health experts and partner organisations, led by MTN Nigeria, have concluded the pilot phase of the multi-stakeholders intervention in the fight against substance abuse among youths in the country.
She added that after seven months of multiple hard-hitting on-ground activities in Abuja, Lagos, Imo, Rivers, and Bauchi States, the first phase of the widely successful multi-stakeholder Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) ended in Kano State on Friday.
“After embarking on this project that has taken us through various nooks and crannies of the country, and listening to feedback from thousands of young students and volunteers, it has become apparent that our mission has only just begun.
“For the millions of young Nigerians on the verge of the decision on first-time drug-use, we will continue this campaign aimed at dissuading them.
“We are humbled by what we have all been able to achieve with the pilot and are expectant for the millions that will be reached in subsequent phases,” she said.
Ugboma said the programme, which was geared towards combating increasing rate of first-time drug-use among young Nigerians, was built on a multi-sectoral approach.
She added that it amassed a network of stakeholder organisations spanning non-profit organisations, regulatory agencies, professional associations, advocacy champions and individual experts.
She listed the stakeholders to include the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); the Police; Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN); Christians Against Drug Abuse Mission (CADAM); Freedom Foundation, etc.
She said that during a courtesy visit by MTN ASAP team to the Government House in Kano, Dr Nasiru Gawuna, Deputy Governor of Kano State commended efforts of the MTN foundation in the fight against substance abuse.
“I want to thank MTN foundation, we see all the good works they have been doing. It is truly commendable especially against substance abuse and wellness of communities with the ‘What Can We Do Together’ initiative.
“The government of Kano is not also sitting back with this menace of substance abuse. We are already working towards setting up an agency to look into substance abuse and we will very much like to work with MTN on this important project.
“There is so much we can achieve if we collaborate. We have a huge problem on our hands but I am confident we can defeat this problem especially when corporations become more aware and responsible just like MTN has done,” the deputy governor was quoted.
She said that millions of young Nigerians had been inspired by the programme’s multi-faceted approach that had included direct engagement, digital empowerment, stakeholder collaboration and media advocacy.
“Following activations in over 125 secondary schools, 16 tertiary institutions, 30 motor parks and markets, influencer workshops, plans are being implemented for an even more targeted second phase.
“This is expected to continue to affect wide-sweeping changes in various states in Nigeria,” ugboma said.