DRUG ABUSE AMONG NIGERIAN ADOLESCENTS AND STRATEGIES FOR COUNSELLING

Drug abuse is a major public health problem all over the world. The use and abuse of drugs by adolescents have become one of the most disturbing health related phenomena in Nigeria and other parts of the world.

The term drug abuse is an excessive and persistent self-administration of a drug without regard to the medically or culturally accepted patterns. It could also be viewed as the use of a drug to the extent that it interferes with the health and social function of an individual.

Drug abuse is also the, maladaptive or addictive use of drugs for non-medical purpose.

The most common types of abused drugs according to NAFDAC are categorized as follows:

Stimulants: These are substances that directly act and stimulate the central nervous system. Users at the initial stage experience pleasant effects such as energy increase. The major source of these comes from caffeine substance.

Narcotics: These drugs relive pains, induce sleeping and they are addictive.

They are found in heroin, codeine, opium etc.

Sedatives: These drugs are among the most widely used and abused. This is largely due to the belief that they relieve stress and anxiety, and some of them induce sleep, ease tension, cause relaxation or help users to forget their problems.

Miscellaneous: This is a group of volatile solvents or inhalants that provide euphoria, emotional disinhibition and perpetual distortion of thought to the user. The main sources are glues, spot removers, tube repair, perfumes, chemicals etc.

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Tranquilizers: They are believed to produce calmness without bringing drowsiness, they are chiefly derived from Librium, Valium etc.

The Causes of Drug Abuse are numerous. They include Experimental Curiosity, Peer Group Influence, Lack of parental supervision and Personality Problems due to socio-Economic Conditions. The social and economic status of most Nigerians is below average. Poverty is widespread, broken homes and unemployment is on the increase, therefore our youths roam the streets looking for employment or resort to begging. These situations have been aggravated by lack of skills, opportunities for training and re-training and lack of committed action to promote job creation by private and community entrepreneurs.

The Effects of Drug Abuse are negative on the body chemistry and the society at large identified as follows: suicidal behavior, Socially-broken homes, increased crime rate, sexual offences, homicide, sexually transmitted diseases. It also aggravates cancer, strokes, heart attack unconsciousness and death.

Incidence of Drug Abuse among Nigerian Adolescents: Students, especially those in secondary school tend to see the drug user as one who is tough, bold and strong. The Nigerian secondary school adolescents under the influence of hard drugs shed all inhibitions and produce behaviour that is inconsistent with school discipline. The problem of drug abuse knows no boundaries or social class. It impedes the growth and development of any society as it is a threat to life, health, dignity and prosperity of all individuals.

Strategies for Counselling

The following counselling strategies are suggested to help reduce drug abuse among adolescents.

Establishment of Family Education on Drugs: Parents should give their children appropriate education on drug use. They should be encouraged by health authorities to offer family education on drug abuse to their children. They should inform them of the dangers of drug abuse and dependence on their health, society and the nation.

Establishment of Counseling Centre’s for Drug Control: Counselling centers should be established in every community by the government or private individuals. Qualified health counsellor should be employed in helping drug addicts or those dependent on drugs by giving them special advice on how to go about the withdrawal system.

Designing Curricula on Drug Education: Ministry of education (State and Federal) should as matters of urgency add to the curricula- drug education at all levels of education.

Campaign against Drug Abuse: National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) should intensify their campaigns on antidrug in order to have a drug free society. The campaign against use of certain drugs and misuse of drugs should be more intensified at the secondary school level because it is the peak of adolescent. Also, government and other relevant authorities should lunch out campaigns against drug abuse as well as dependence.

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HEALTH AND SAFETY

CANCER RISK FROM CELL PHONE

Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, which is a form of non-ionizing radiation, according to the National Cancer Institute. The body tissue closest to the antenna can absorb this energy. That’s why there have been so many studies about whether cell phones increase someone’s risk for malignant (cancerous) or benign brain tumors.

Here are some safety tips you can apply at home:

· Use headphones; a hands-free device places more distance between your brain tissue and the phone.

· Put your phone farther away from you than the nightstand when you sleep.

· Don’t stick cell phones in sports bras or pant pockets.

· Use the phone for shorter conversations or use the speaker phone for longer talks.

NIGERIA GENERAL ELECTIONS- 2019

Hours before polling stations were set to open 16 February 2019, Nigeria’s electoral body announced the postponement of the elections by a week for logistical reasons. The one-week delay was needed to hold a free and fair election, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, told reporters. “The commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible. Consequently, the commissioners decided to reschedule the presidential and national assembly elections to Saturday 23 February 2019.

General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), in power since 2015, faces a tight election contest against the main opposition candidate, businessman and former vice president Atiku Abubakar. The chairman of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondu, said the move was “dangerous to our democracy and unacceptable”. Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party also criticized the electoral commission for the delay. The president had cooperated fully with the commission to ensure it had everything it had demanded to conduct free and fair elections.

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria concluded 25 February 2019 that the 23 February elections were marked by serious operational shortcomings resulting in delays. INEC operated in a difficult environment and made a number of improvements since 2015, including the introduction of continuous accreditation and voting. The European Union Election Observation Mission EU EOM concluded that the elections were competitive and that candidates were able to campaign freely, although it stated that campaign rhetoric became more acrimonious closer to election day. There was clear partisan programming by the Nigerian Television Authority, state-run media, and local commercial radio stations owned by politicians. This gave advantage to incumbents at federal and state level.

Immediately following the elections, there were claims of widespread fraud by the opposition. The claims included accusations of ballot box snatching, vote-trading and impersonation. There were also claims that caches of explosives were found by police. While the African Union (AU) said the elections were “largely peaceful and conducive for the conducting of credible elections”. The electoral commission also described the elections as mostly peaceful. However, the 2019 election fell short of expectations. It was during the 2019 elections that a court of law denied a ruling party at the centre the opportunity to contest all elections in Rivers and Zamfara states. Due to the lingering dispute over the party congresses held in Rivers State in May 2018, the Court of Appeal and even the Supreme Court barred the APC from fielding candidates for all elective positions in the state. Two states, Zamfara and Rivers, were initially involved before the Zamfara High Court came to the rescue of the Zamfara APC by ordering INEC to enlist the party on the ballot paper.

Another thing that singled out the 2019 general election was the high number of cancelled votes due to violence, over-voting and non-adherence to the use of Smart Card Readers. The cancelled votes which are in millions brought about, five inconclusive governorship elections in Kano, Sokoto, Plateau, Adamawa and Benue State. Some of the major challenges faced in preparation and conduct of the 2019 general elections relate to the cynicism and skepticism of the Nigerian voters and citizens generally, the peculiar attitudes and mindset of the typical Nigerian politician, those associated with the use of technology in our infrastructure-challenged environment, the constraints imposed by the extant legal framework and those emanating from the prevalence of the phenomenon of weak institutions and other systematic peculiarities of the Nigerian polity.

Credible elections create legitimate governments that enjoy popular support for programs and policies. The 2019 general elections have been particularly overwhelming because they were characterized by falsification of election results, stuffing of ballot boxes, announcing results in places where no elections were held, inflation of figures, illegal possession and thumb-printing of ballot papers, delay in commencement of voting, compilation of fictitious names on voter’s lists, results manipulation and wholesale subversion of the will of people all of which were perpetrated largely by political office holders which posed challenge to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. Crises of elections in 2019 were partly due to partiality, incompetence and partisanship of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it compromised the electoral processes.

The result of the 2019 Presidential Election recorded the lowest voter turnout in comparison

with that of the 2011 and 2015. In 2011, a turnout of 56.4% was recorded, in 2015, a 46.8%

voters’ turnout was recorded while in the 2019 Presidential Election, only 39.09% turnout was

recorded. Some of the reasons for this low turnout is political apathy, postponement of the

Election from 16th February 2019 to 23rd March 2019. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) worked in a complex security and politically-charged environment, with its premises and officials subject to physical attack and intimidation. INEC made a number of improvements, including making electoral participation more accessible through simplified voting procedures. INEC made efforts to strengthen electoral integrity by issuing regulations making smart card readers mandatory to accredit voters, but there were insufficient accompanying transparency measures. Other procedural weaknesses continued, including in regards to checks and transparency in the results process. Severe operational shortcomings resulted in the elections being postponed by a week just five hours before polling was due to start on 16 February. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) then gave regular updates on election preparations, but before this, and after polling began, there was a serious lack of public communication with insufficient information made available.

Very few electoral offences result in arrest or prosecution, and thus there is an enduring culture of impunity. Although INEC has power of prosecution, it does not have powers to investigate or arrest, and is therefore reliant on security agencies. INEC could not provide the EU EOM with information on the numbers of electoral offence cases. Recurrent difficulties in dealing with electoral offences include the challenges of gathering evidence and the timeframes involved in criminal proceedings. The lack of any requirement for public updates and information on the status of investigations and prosecutions diminishes the accountability of the respective institutions involved.

Three weeks before the original election date, the president suspended the chief justice of Nigeria. This had an inhibiting effect on the judiciary. It was seen by many as undermining security of tenure, damaging judicial independence and compromising the division of powers. The suspension did not follow due process, was divisive, and undermined confidence in the electoral process and opportunity for remedy. He was later subject to compulsory retirement by the National Judicial Council. The chief justice has a key role in deciding the Supreme Court bench for hearing final pre-election appeals as well as governorship and presidential petitions.

There are many serious challenges that hindered the smooth operation or total success of the election and these challenges are legal, procedural and logistical which must be looked into and address by the electoral body, policy makers, civil societies, international supporting agencies, parties, contestants, electorates and all stakeholders that are involved in the electoral process in Nigeria in the future.

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XENOPHOBIA

They despise my identity

They make fun of my nationality

so much for African Unity

I’m just an ordinary man…

Embarking on a journey towards being an extra ordinary man

Just like you I am an African

Why does it matter whether I am Zimbabwean or Nigerian

I am not here to steal your jobs

There is no need to create mobs

I am just a brother, a sister from another mother

We speak different tongues, but let’s not hate each other

These are the same countries who opened their arms to our forefathers

They helped them escape the atrocities that hounded the rainbow nation

Need to say more? … There is no need for further explanation

Before you put that tire around him think again

These are innocent Africans

Why put them through so much pain?

So much blood has been shed in this country

Enough is enough… Unite Africans, Unite ! ! !

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