Kwale County Governor Salim Mvurya has called for concerted effort among stakeholders in the fight against drugs and substance abuse in the society.
Governor Mvurya contended that it’s only through collaboration among the various stakeholders that a drug-free society can be achieved in the region.
The county boss has called on the youth to take a pledge to stay away from drug and substance abuse to secure a bright future.
He expressed concern about addiction to hard drugs such as marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin and other narcotics by the youth and said stakeholders need to work together in harmony to ensure the societal vice is eradicated.
Mvurya said religious and opinion leaders should assist the county and the National Government in creating awareness among the youth against drug and substance abuse
According to the county boss, drug and substance abuse among the youth is very rampant thus causing a threat to the future of the coastal county’s economy.
Mvurya spoke when he graced the Kwale Islamic Youth Conference held at the Kwale Cultural Centre in Kwale town under the theme ‘Islam and Mental Health’.
He said drug and substance abuse among young people is a disaster that requires immediate intervention from all stakeholders in the county.
He urged religious leaders in the county to come up with strategies that would save the young generation from drug addiction. “This is not a war for the authorities alone but a war for all of us and we want to see religious leaders and the public coming together to find a lasting solution,” Mvurya said.
He urged the residents to support the security agencies in eradicating the drug menace saying drug dealers do not care who they sell their drugs to. “We need to engage the youth in a bid to improve their understanding of the life-altering effects of drug and substance abuse and empower them to reach their full potential,” he said.
“All drug dealers care about is money and if we are not serious about it the drug scourge will destroy the young generation as we watch,” he said.
He said drug and substance abuse among the youth is a major factor that hinders them from reaching their true potential in life.
Mvurya while expressing concern over the drug situation in the coastal region called on all the stakeholders to effectively take up the task to wipe out drugs from the midst of the society.
“Each and every person in the society has got to shoulder the responsibility of fighting the drug menace for a bright future for all,” he said adding that his administration was partnering with the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) to curb the drug menace in the region.
He said the ‘Elimu ni sasa initiative’, the state of the art stadium, and the audio-visual recording studios at the cultural centre are resources that seek to transform the wellbeing of the young generation.
The governor asked the youth to make use of the various development projects by the national and county government to improve their lot.
“Since I came into office, my administration has been focusing on the youth. The future of this county is in the young people and that is the reason I initiated the Elimu ni sasa programme and other programmes that would better the future of this county. I want to see youth becoming aggressive and benefiting from these projects,” Mvurya said.
Meanwhile, the county boss asked parents to monitor the behaviour of their children at all times.
He added that many parents have failed to bring up their children well leading to the increase of drug abuse and cases of violent extremism. “It’s time parents create time for discussions with their children as parent-child talks help to instill morals in young people,” he said.
Mvurya urged parents to monitor the social media accounts of their children to know the contents they share on the various social media platforms. He asked the youth to stop being used by rogue politicians to spread propaganda that might cause violence before, during and after the electioneering period.
The governor urged the youth to enroll in the Technical Vocational Training (TVET) centres to acquire skills relevant in the labour market.
“Most of the youth are blaming the government for not employing them but the government is doing a good job in equipping the youth with technical skills through TVETs which prepare you for opportunities. Register in these institutions and my administration will help you with bursaries,” Mvurya said.
Local religious leaders led by Sheikh Rajab Ndaro urged the youth to reject extremism and twisted ideologies and instead seek to gain proper Islamic knowledge and guidance.
Sheikh Ndaro implored on the Muslim youth to avoid being influenced by misguided calls to violence and extremism from religious zealots.
“There is no religion that supports drugs abuse and acts of terrorism but young people don’t have time for religious teachings and that is why we have run-away crime,” Ndaro said.
The religious leader asked parents to create time for their children to guide them on how to be good members of society.
According to NACADA, hundreds of youth are addicted to drugs in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties and that substance abuse continues to be a challenge for the police.
The anti-drug agency says the alarming rate of hard drug use among the youth in the region has assumed a worrisome dimension despite persistent campaigns against the vice.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi