Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia
Drug abuse and cultism are twin evils currently threatening several communities in Nigeria.
Recently, the people of Ohafia, in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia state org)anised a sensitisation seminar on drug and cultism with a view to dissuading their youths from involving themselves in the vices.
Tagged “Ohafia fight against drug and cultism,” the seminar was powered by Ohafia Summit, a pressure group in the area while the primary audience was made up of male and female students from secondary schools in Ohafia, youths learning and practicing different trades as well as Keke and Okada riders.
Speakers at the event described the seminar as timely because the challenges of drug and cultism in the area were hitting all time high.
An indigene of the community who merely introduced himself as Kalu said: “Youths are the future of every society, and if something is not done fast to check trend of drug and cultism within our youths, our people will soon be faced with a society without youths. The easiest way to destroy a nation or a people is the introduction of drug to them. This will lead them to armed robbery, banditry, rape and other vices that will eventually lead them to total destruction”.
Convener of the event, Mr Vincent Ukpong Kalu, a Lagos-based journalist and prominent son of Ohafia said that Ohafia Summit was formed out of vision to restore the Ohafia spirit and glory which was almost leaving them.
According to him, the spirit Ohafia people were known in the past was that of unity and oneness, and not of drug abuse and cultism: “This spirit brings our people together to decide their own fate by themselves, but today, it is like everything about Ohafia is being decided from outside this place.
“And when we look at the attitude and behaviour of some of our youths, we believe that in the next couple of years, the virtues that are known about Ohafia sons and daughters would have been eroded by inordinate life style of our youths. That was why we said, no, something has to be done to bring our youths back into line. It was in an effort to put us back on line that formed the idea of holding this seminar.
“We want to reposition our community where it is supposed to be. In the past, the first seven persons to have PhD in the East, five were from Ohafia. But today, we seem to be losing direction. We want to take back our children, from that part of perdition because the only place meant for drug addicts is destruction.
“If we tamper with the lives of our children, it means that we have tampered with the future of our people”.
Also, another prominent son of Ohafia; Prof. Ezichi Anya Ituma of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who presented a paper titled, “Restraining the youths from the twin evils of drug and cultism,” described drug as a substance, which has physiological effect when introduced into the body of man, and cultism as ritual practice by a group of people whose membership, admission, policy etcetera are done in secrecy, with their activities having negative effects on members.
He said that the programme targeted both the youths and adults because the menace of drug and cultism was eating very deep into the fabrics of the society.
On the effects of drug abuse, he said “They may become sedated, disoriented and may not know who they are, where they are and what time it is. It may also cause fluctuating emotions, fragmented thoughts, panic attacks, hallucinations and feelings of unreality, with red eye, which may linger for some time.”
Another speaker, Ezeogo Mba Okereke, talking on the role of traditional rulers in tackling the menace of drug abuse and cultism said that for the society to be rid of drug abuse and cultism; local laws have to be made effective: “If only we will listen and obey the scriptures and messages of the gospel, we won’t be talking about drug abuse and cultism. If traditional rulers are empowered and not made to be subject to their subjects, the real governance authority can flow from them, and then the wrath of God will visit those desecrating the land.”
Abia state Commander of National drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Onyebuchi Ndiulor, who was represented by his second in command, said that drug and cultism affect everyone, because they are “evil wind that blows no one any good”, hence, all hands must be on deck to prevent more unnecessary deaths.
He advised Government, to among other measures, set up a committee to identify and crack down on those providing large quantities of narcotics in the so called pill mills.
Though Government cannot stop drug abuse and cultism completely, he explained that they can be reduced by engaging the youths positively and changing their orientation that violence was the fastest way to make it in life.