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The Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development has identified Cultism and Drug Abuse as major issues currently ravaging youths in the state.

Mr Ajayi Peter, a Youth Development Officer in the ministry, made the disclosure to newsmen in Lagos on Thursday.

Peter was one of the panelists at a Stakeholders Dialogue to commemorate the 2019 International Day of the Girl Child on Thursday, however, the International Day of the Girl Child has marked annually on Oct.11.

The event was put together by the Public Health Advocacy Sustainable Initiative and Life Planning for Adolescent and Youth (LPAY) Ambassadors in collaboration with other sponsors.

It had its theme as: “Girl Force: Unscripted and Unstoppable”.

Peter said: “In the ministry, we work with youths, boys and girls and today we have discussed about the way for new development generally in the state.

“The big issue to us now in the state is the issue of cultism and drug abuse.

“Cultism has degenerated to the level of recruiting from primary schools; it now cuts across everywhere in the state, not just primary school, even motorcycle riders.

“Those riding bikes are part of the network, so it is a big problem that everybody needs to be involved in, not just development officers but also, the police or ministry of education.’’

On the possible causes for this menace, Peter said that parents and communities now paid less attention to their wards and children.

“We jump from one work to another in search for economic empowerment, how to make money and how to get money but neglecting our children.

“Another thing is that young people are exposed to so many things like the movies they watch, social media and how they make this silent communication among themselves and no one is aware of it.

“Even at home, where the parents are present thinking, they are mindful of their wards, not knowing they are indulging themselves into social media distractions.

“Out there on the streets, they claim they are playing football, a lot of syndication, cultism dialogue initiation and drug exchange happen there.

“These are the things we, as a youth development officers, face and can’t do alone but with the co-operation of the parents themselves as well as community and religious leaders,’’ he told newsmen.

Peter said there was a need for everybody to be involved in tackling this menace and noted it must start from the family.

He also advised youths on the need to adopt and look up to credible people as role models, while urging parents to be their children’s first role models.

“The youth themselves, they should have people they look up to as role models.

“Before emulating these people, they need to be examined; for example, you cannot take up a popular musician who is trying to sell his brand by using illicit drugs and alcohol in his videos.

“He cannot be your role model.

“We, as parents can also be role models to our children and help nurture them to become successful and the pride of the nation too,” he said

Also, Mr Abiodun Ajayi, Lagos State Coordinator, Life Planning For Adolescents and Youths, told newsmen that the organization was making efforts to ensure government lives up to its responsibilities.

He urged youths, especially girls to always aim for the best and not see gender and some limiting norms as barriers to achieving their dreams.

Ms Solanke Ayomide, a Life Plan Ambassador and Peer Educator, advised girls to always have positive self-esteem and be versatile.

“We are supposed to be unstoppable not to follow a particular script.

“As versatile as the human race is, that is how versatile we should be able to deliver our best forward,’’ she advised.

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