The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, has sounded the alarm regarding the distressing increase in the rate of drug abuse in the community.
During his address at the 2023 Ofala Festival, themed “Better, Stronger, Together,” he highlighted the concerning prevalence of drug addiction among the youth, shedding light on a growing social crisis.
Igwe Achebe, a respected traditional leader who also serves as the Chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, expressed his deep concern over the rising specter of drug addiction plaguing Onitsha and its environs in Anambra State.
He identified this issue as one of the major social vices bedeviling the community, leading to detrimental consequences not only for individual health but also contributing to broader societal problems.
During his address, the Obi pinpointed drug addiction as a key factor behind challenges such as youth unemployment, armed robbery, cultism, and child prostitution.
He stressed that this critical issue was exacerbating touting, homelessness, gangsterism, and sexual violence, which have become major challenges facing the town.
While discussing these concerns, Igwe Achebe commended the Anambra State Vigilante Group (AVG) for their steadfast efforts in safeguarding lives and property within his kingdom.
He emphasized that the community heavily relies on the services provided by AVG to prevent and combat the harmful effects of drug abuse and associated criminal activities.
The Obi of Onitsha also expressed regret over what he described as a reactive approach taken by security agencies stationed in Onitsha, including the police, army, navy, and the Department of State Security (DSS), in addressing crimes related to drug abuse.
He noted the community’s struggle with insufficient funding for salaries, equipment, and essential supplies required for effective law enforcement, with minimal contributions from the state government.
In addition to raising concerns about drug abuse, Igwe Achebe extended his appreciation to individuals and organizations that have played pivotal roles in sustaining the yearly Ofala Festival.
He noted that the festival had expanded significantly in terms of its scope, social allure, and cultural significance for the people of Onitsha, earning both national and international recognition.
In his speech, the state governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, congratulated Igwe Achebe during the celebration, highlighting the Obi’s unprecedented achievements during his 21-year reign, particularly in the realm of youth empowerment.
Governor Soludo also reaffirmed his commitment to addressing the growing insecurity, emphasizing the initiation of extensive road construction projects in Onitsha and the government’s efforts to tackle the menace of agbero.
As the Obi of Onitsha raises the alarm over the high rate of drug abuse, the community is at a critical juncture, requiring immediate and comprehensive intervention from both local leadership and the government.
The theme of the Ofala Festival, “Better, Stronger, Together,” underscores the need for unity and collective action to combat this growing problem and ensure a safer and more prosperous future for Onitsha and its youth.
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