The menace of drug abuse, particularly among youths in Nigeria, and how to tackle it, took the centre stage on Thursday at a seminar with the theme “Say No To Drug Abuse” hosted by Edo State first lady, Betsy Obaseki, where the state governor, Godwin Obaseki expressed apprehension that Nigeria might lose one of the gold medals won at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games due to suspicion of use of prohibited drugs.Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mohammed Buba Marwa, on his part, noted that one out of every four drug user in the country, is a female.Declaring the open the seminar, which was part of activities in the ongoing second edition of the Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament, BOWFT, in Benin, the governor lamented that “Drug abuse has reached a crisis level in the Nigerian society, and the extent and the way our youths consume drugs and other harmful substances, have reached an alarming height, and almost becoming a pandemic.According to the governor, “Studies show that there are up to 40 percent, and 20 percent prevalence of drug abuse among students and youths respectively. Reports from our monthly review of our Security Council meeting in Edo State, and crime analysis in the state, identify drug abuse as the second most pressing issues of concern in the state as regard crime and criminality, aside from kidnapping which is also enhanced by drug abuse.“Drug abuse has been worsened by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike as students are idle at home seeking avenues for self-expression”.Noting that drug abuse is a global crisis, Governor Obaseki said “that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to make the call for collective actions amongst different stakeholders to collaborate and tackle drug abuse as the adverse effect has destroyed the lives of many youths and condemned them to life dependent on drugs.“Drugs also limit the ability of the youths to function effectively in our society and deprive the society of a much needed human capital to drive productivity and economic growth.Speaking on the effect of drugs on sports, the governor said, “Drug abuse is a hydra-headed monster. Drug abuse presents itself in various forms with immense impacts on the sports industry and the larger society hence it is very important for collective actions to tackle this menace for the betterment of the society.“Sports as we all know is a very important tool for social mobilization and youth engagement, and presents a veritable platform to wage this all-important war against drug abuse.”In sports, drug abuse has remained a cause for concern with athletes loosing individual and group medals and honours as a result of drug-related offences. It is a global issue that has continued to plague our sporting competition. While some may argue that this issue does not directly apply to us in Nigeria, we are reminded that Nigeria risks losing one of the medals won in the just-concluded Commonwealth Games on account of suspicion of prohibited drugs,” he said.Recall that one of the quartet of Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rose Chukwuma, and Grace Nwokocha, who won gold medal in the women’s 4x100m relay at the Commonwealth Games, is believed to have failed a doping test, thereby threatening the much celebrated athletic feat.Obaseki, however, advocated more support for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to tackle the incident of drug abuse in Edo State. He assured that the state was willing, ready, and prepared to work with the agency and deploy as much resources as required to combat the menace.Given the severity of the situation, he said Nigeria needed to move away from old ways of tackling drug issues and adopt more effective measures that would deliver lasting gains. He assured that “We will continue to push for stricter enforcement of existing laws, and make new legislations to further strengthen critical institutions which are required to tackle this menace”.Commending the organisers of the event for the laudable initiative, Obaseki said, “I commend my wife, the deputy governor, and other partners for taking advantage of this sporting event to tackle the problem head on.“I want to applaud the Nigeria Women Football League, (NWFL) and the sporting community across the country, for using this pre-season women’s tournament to raise social consciousness on social vices by deploying sports as a tool for societal regeneration.”The NDLEA chairman, who was represented by his special adviser, Lanre Ipinimisho, said the “NDLEA appreciates the thoughtfulness of Edo First Lady to have drug abuse as the theme of this year’s tournament, and working with relevant stakeholders to fight the menace to a standstill in Nigeria. Your effort is very commendable.”Delivering a paper titled “Combating Drug Trafficking and Providing Care for Victims of Drug Abuse,” Marwa said the programme complemented the ongoing War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy launched by NDLEA in June 2022, adding that the focus on the girl-child and young women, was strategic in the effort to curb the rising trend of drug abuse among Nigerians.Marwa noted that a national survey currently carried out showed that 14.3million Nigerians, most of them overwhelmingly youths, abuse drugs, adding that the country has exceptionally high drug use prevalence of 14.4 percent.In her opening remarks, facilitator of the event, Betsy Obaseki, noted, “We are working to bring back the glory of Edo people as we are known for sports, entrepreneurship, culture, and entertainment. This administration is out to re-enact the glory of the state, especially in sports. As we try to re-enact sports in the state, we are targeting our young girls, and creating a way for them to make good money in sports.“During the 72nd session of FIFA Congress in March this year, our state was recognised for the great improvement in sports, especially in empowering our youths through the BOWFT. Every year, we adopt a theme for the tournament, and this year, it is fight against drug abuse.”Chairperson, Nigerian Governors Wives Forum, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, said “As governors’ wives, there are a number of issues that are of concern to us – sexual and gender-based violence, and drug abuse, positing that there is a link between the two. Addressing the students who formed the majority of the audience, the Ekiti State governor’s wife, who led other governors’ wives to the event, admonished them to shun use of drugs for the sake of their future, emphasizing that “there is nothing cool about drug abuse; there is nothing trendy about drug use.“We are happy to be a part of this event. Sports build the self-esteem of our youths, and make them disciplined. I encourage you to stay off drugs as it will not help but destroy your lives.”Mrs. Fayemi thanked her Edo State counterpart for what she is doing for the people of the state, and similarly appreciated Governor Obaseki “for creating an enabling environment for our sister to operate as she has enriched our group”.