two-Day training by the ECOWAS Commission, of media and youth organizations on needed collaboration in the fight against drug trafficking/ abuse and organized crime has ended in Abuja, Nigeria on the 6th of July 2017. Participants at the training workshop recommended among others, a strategic plan for media engagement in the sub-region.
They also called for the creation of an enabling environment which will allow media practitioners to work with “influencers, opinion leaders and prominent people” who can make the headlines in order to drive home the campaign against illicit drug trafficking.
In addition, the participants recommended a higher strategic relationship with media gatekeepers such as editors and producers to “get their buy-in on the issue of drug trafficking so that they could accord it priority in the news decisions as well as news programming”
Complementarily, youth-based organisations at the workshop upheld that young people should be meaningfully involved in the design of drug programs/policy, implementation, monitoring as well as evaluation.
They reasoned that it is important for national governments across the region to focus on evidence-based interventions and what works with the requisite courage ‘to change existing drug policies’.
As a priority, they maintained that the various governments must necessarily move away from considering drug use as an issue for the criminal justice system and see it more as a As a priority, they maintained that the various governments must necessarily move away from considering drug use as an issue for the criminal justice system and see it more as a public health, human rights and development agenda.
“We need our government to show commitment to this course through policy reform and also provision of funds for effective program activities in our countries” they added.
The Workshop featured presentations on regional trends and threats, outlining the need to understand the present state of drug affairs as well as what the Youth and the Media can do to improve the current situation.
Additionally the conferees looked at the role of the youth and the media in combatting illicit drug trafficking, drug abuse, treatment and rehabilitation.
Further insights were given into the practical interventions for integration of drug-related sensitization and advocacy activities at community, national and regional levels towards effective prevention and control of illicit drug trafficking, related organized crimes and drug abuse.
Suggestions were also proffered regarding publicizing the various ECOWAS normative documents addressing illicit drug trafficking and the media awareness of their existence so as to leverage on existing value systems in controlling illicit drug trafficking.
There were also group work and discussions with an examination of the various practical challenges and proposed solutions.
Prior to the identification of recommendations, various presentations were made by trainers and resource persons which included the Director of International Press Centre Mr. Lanre Arogundade, the National Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Mr. Shuaibu Leman as well as the regional coordinator, West African Drug Policy Network Mr. Adeolu Ogunrombi . (ECOWAS)