Supporting Rural Citizens’ Call On President To Fight Drug Abuse

RURAL LIBERIANS HAVE intensified their calls for a full scale war on drug abuse and drug trafficking. From community to community in Margibi, Grand Bassa and River Cess, where the President has been holding town hall meetings with the locals, various segments of rural people, including elders, women and even youth, say Liberia is on edge and a whole generation could be wiped away, rendered useless and society rendered ungovernable in the near future, if Government does not intensify its fight against drug and substance abuse in the country.

ALREADY, THE IMPACT of the situation is visible in the capital Monrovia, evidenced by a horde of young people called “zogoes” and scores of mentally-swayed people littering about streets and communities. Gradually, the situation is spreading into the hinterland where security is woefully lax, and criminality is blossoming while parents are losing their children to uselessness.

THUS, WHILE PRESIDENT George Manneh Weah is interacting with rural dwellers on his county tour, the people find it appropriate to confront him and his government about the alarming rate of drug abuse in the country. This issue has particularly dominated discussions at town hall meetings in Margibi and Grand Bassa counties where the President’s third round of county tour has been focused in the last week or so.

IN THE VIEW of the locals, who included market women, chiefs and local authorities, the problem of drugs and substance abuse has reached epidemic proportion and is taking its toll on young people. Residents of Katata in Margibi and Buchanan in Grand Bassa say they are flustered by the high rate of criminal activities and increased number of young people turning ‘zogoes’ or meaningless in their communities. Presenting their plights to President Weah during various town hall meetings, the citizens also called on him to do all he can to curtail the use of illicit drugs in the country and save countless young people.

THE PRESIDENT DID not sound oblivious or uninformed about the prevalence of narcotics and the abuse of substance. In fact, he said drug abuse is an emergency health and security issue in Liberia and that, working with partners, his administration is determined to confront it with all the resolve and resources that can be mustered.

NEVERTHELESS, THE PRESIDENT made a salient observation that worth the attention of all Liberians, mainly parents and guardians who, he said, have greater responsibility to assist Government to arrest the growing waves of substance abuse. Many young people who involved in illicit drug business and are consequently affected belong to a home, a family and a community, the President observed. They stay much of their time with families and the communities, who know them very well, the history of their quagmire. Thus, families and communities cannot be left out in the fight against drug abuse.

WE AGREE WITH the citizens on their call and we also agree with the President. A government engagement of youth to eschew drugs abuse cannot be successful without the genuine commitment of parents, guards and the communities. In fact, a well-organized community-based brigade committed to keeping surveillance and vigilance on drug and those who abuse it is a more powerful strategy. Because, ghettos which breed drugs and drugs abuse are right in the communities, and many parents and guardians are aware of this. They know which youth in the communities are frequenting ghettos or are showing early signs of substance abuse.

BUT INSTEAD OF holding meetings on the subject of drugs and what to do, instead of holding culprits in the drug business accountable beforehand, many communities and their residents, more often than not, turn blind eyes and deaf ears to clear signs of drug invasion until many of their children fall prey. Left with no option, they simply lament and want Government to be the sole solver of this intractable problem.

THAT IS NOT the way to go. President Weah is right: Government alone cannot fight the problem of drugs abuse and keeping young people safe and sound. To be successful, communities must get involved. They must rise to the challenge of exposing and dismantling cartels that fuel the drugs business and those to push it. They must comb their communities in watch for and possibly dismantle budding ghettos and those who sustain them. They must stop shielding their children who abuse drugs and are wayward.

TOGETHER, WITH COMMUNITY joining forces with Government and stakeholders, Liberia can reduce if not eradicate the prevalence of drugs and substance abuse in Liberia. By this, we will all be saving a whole generation of Liberians who are needed for the forward match of this country

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