Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah, Nigeria’s gold medalist in the long jump event at Atlanta’96 Olympic Games, has cautioned Nigerian youths on the dangers of involving in use of illicit drugs.
Ajunwa-Opara made the call at a conference organised by her foundation, Chioma Ajunwa Foundation, in commemoration of the 2023 edition of the United Nations (UN) Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking held at the Police College Ikeja, Lagos.
She cautioned the youths including sportsmen and women to avoid illicit drug use because of its inherent negative effects on their health.
Ajunwa-Oparah stated that the conference became necessary in order to create awareness, enlighten and sensitise the youths against the use of illicit drugs and cultism especially among students, athletes, security agencies and general citizenry.
“This fight which my foundation started six years ago was borne out of the desire to make our youths realise that there is no gain in using illicit drugs as it can only ruin their careers and destroy lives.
“Therefore, the conference today is a patriotic effort and also a timely measure taken by Chioma Ajunwa Foundation to help our youths escape from the claws of the temptation posed by illicit drug use.
“I’m glad that a representative from the NDLEA is here to open our eyes on the dangers associated with illicit drug use and its effects. And for our youths to have a breakthrough in every facet of their endeavours, they must shun illicit drug use,” she said.
Ajunwa-Oparah revealed that the issue of illicit drug use among our youths is becoming alarming, worrisome and very complex because of its adverse effects on the generality of our society.
She affirmed that people in Nigeria who used drugs faced stigma and discrimination which harmed their physical and mental health, thus inhibiting them from accessing the help they needed to overcome the effect of illicit drug use.
In a lecture to commemorate the event, Mrs Ibinagbo Archie-Abia, the Deputy Director, Directorate of General Investigation, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA) lectured the audience comprising secondary school students and football academies on dangers of drug abuse.
She urged them to always shun the temptation of doing drugs or allowing their friends to deceive them into joining cultism.
Archie-Abia noted that there was no gain in it, but could rather lead to untimely death, permanent disability, suicide, psychiatric problem or long jail term.
She revealed the efforts being made by NDLEA at combating illicit drug use by the citizenry and saluted the efforts of Chioma Ajunwa Foundation in drawing the attention of the population on this new scourge.
“Today, we are reinvigorating our efforts at curbing drug menace and that is why the theme of this year’s event is ‘People first! Stop stigma, discrimination, and strengthen prevention.
“My advice to athletes and our youths is that they should stay away from drugs; be clean always and use your God-given talent and strength to compete.
“It’s always very difficult to overcome it and you will end up destroying not only your life but your family’s name,” she said.
According to her, great Nigerian athletes like Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Taiwo Awoniyi, Chioma Ajunwa, Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya, Tosin Amosun and some great Nigerians and great businessmen like Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga all became great without drugs.
She restated with a tinge of regret that some great athletes and artists like Diego Maradona, Michael Jackson and Majek Fashek all ended up badly because of drug abuse.
Prof. Olunifesi Suraj of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos and a UN consultant opined that the fight against drug abuse should not be restricted to the youths alone.
He said that it must all be encompassing because it involved the youths, politicians, security agents and even the military.
He submitted that the fight to eradicate illicit drug use might be difficult to fight because it involved a very powerful cabal who made millions from the business.
Suraj explained that to achieve any meaningful progress in the fight, religious leaders and the media must be involved with sustained advertisement carried out on both the conventional and new media platforms to fight the menace. (NAN)