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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has issued stern warnings to youths in the region to desist from drug abuse and cultism describing them as twin evils that can destroy their future.

The commission, which took its campaign against cultism and drug abuse to Rivers State, on Friday, said youths in the Niger Delta must be stopped from engaging in social vices to enable them harness their potential, contribute their quota in development and sustain the peace in the region.

Speaking at the event in Port Harcourt, the state capital, the acting Managing Director, NDDC, Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, warned the youths to resist peer pressure and bad associations capable of luring them into abuse of substances and cultism.

Audu-Ohwavborua, who was represented by Wej Alazigha, NDDC Director, Human Resources, also appealed to parents to monitor the activities, movements of their children and the kind of company they keep.

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He said: “Drug abuse is a common phenomenon and Niger Delta is not exempted. Youths often take drugs because they may have seen family members take them. They may also have access to drugs and and are influenced by peer pressure.

“They may hardly come back to their normal selves. Don’t join bad gangs because your future is involved. If you get mentally sick, you have ruined your future. We must avert this menace.

“Students should not relate with their colleagues who have potential to take drugs. Parents should watch their children. It is their responsibility. Don’t leave it for teachers. Monitor their moods and their movements to know whether they have started taking drugs”.

Audu-Ohwavborua, who shared educational tabs and smart school bags to the students, advised persons already victims of drugs to contact the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for rehabilitation.

The Director of Youths and Sports, NDDC, Ephraim Offiong, said the NDDC in partnership with Victoria Archibong Educational Foundation (VAEF) selected secondary school students from across the state to attend the programme to catch them young by exposing them to the dangers of drug abuse and cultism.

He said the students selected would become ambassadors of the commission in their schools and communities and assist the NDDC in curtailing the Niger Delta region

Addressing the students, he said: “We want you to act as our global ambassadors. Take the message to everyone and let them know that drug uses are not good for the body. Avoid peer pressure.

“There is a strong connection between drug use and cultism. In some schools there are cult groups in them. These things will be inimical to you. It will destroy your future and will not allow you to make progress”.

The Special Adviser on Youths and Sports to the acting Managing Director, Udengs Eradiri, said there was a need for youths in the Niger Delta to abstain from drugs and cultism and concentrate on the opportunities offered by the commission.

He warned that indulging in drugs would erode their potential and called on them to take advantage of scholarship opportunities.

He said: “Many scholarships are going on. As we speak people have been chosen ans about to be sent to abroad for their masters. So, if you don’t indulge yourselves in cult and and drugs, you will be great persons in future and also might be a partaker in the scholarship scheme of the NDDC”, he said.

Also, the Rivers State Director, NDDC, Imeko Orere Mecaiah, said beyond building physical infrastructures, the NDDC was also interested in human capital development.

He said: “This programme is to educate our young ones, build human capacity and stop violence caused by drug abuse and cultism. When youths get involved they are destroyed in their prime. They won’t achieve their potential”.

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