In collaboration with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the MTN Foundation has kick-started the second edition of its Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) quiz competition for secondary school students in Nigeria.

Following the elimination stage, which was held virtually between June 6, and 7, 2023, six finalists emerged and will be competing for the grand prize on June 23, 2023 in Abuja. The finalists include; PTA/NADP International College, Lafia, Nasarawa State; Girls’ Secondary School, Abakpa-Nike, Enugu, Enugu State; Girls Secondary School, Yola, Adamawa State; Katsina College, Katsina State;, Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo State and Anglican Girls Grammar School, Benin-City.

The quiz competition is part of the MTN Foundation’s efforts to raise awareness about substance abuse and addiction among Nigerian youths. Its purpose is to reduce first-time substance use and casual substance use among secondary school students across the country.

The three-hour quiz competition was moderated by the Director, Drug Demand Reduction, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Dr Ngozi Maduibuike; Team Leader, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Abimbola Adewumi and Assistant Director, Drug Demand Reduction Directorate NDLEA, Chigbu Odoemelam.

According to the NDLEA director, the uptake in the use of substances by young Nigerians has led to the agency’s partnership with MTN Foundation. She said, “More young people between the ages of 15 and 35 are more involved in drug abuse. Studies have shown that 14.3 million Nigerians are using psychoactive substances with 1 in 5 persons who use drugs in Nigeria suffering from drug use disorders. This has become worrisome hence the need to raise awareness through the inter-school quiz competition.”

Encouraging students during the online competition, Dr Ngozi Maduibuike urged them to arm themselves with the knowledge gained during the competition and act as ambassadors in the fight against substance abuse.

“We need to raise more students who will act as champions in the fight against drug abuse. We hope to provide students with coping skills to help them deal with peer pressure to take drugs. We know that many people who first start using drugs have done so through the pressure of their friends. Through the ASAP quiz competition, we hope to provide you with the necessary knowledge needed to have a healthier life as you become ambassadors against substance abuse. We expect you to take the ASAP message back to your classrooms, homes and communities.”

Speaking on the MTN Foundation’s partnership with NDLEA and UNODC on the ASAP quiz competition, the Executive Secretary of the Foundation, Odunayo Sanya said, “The reality of substance abuse in our community is one we must no longer ignore. In 2019, MTN through its Foundation initiated the Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) in partnership with NDLEA and UNODC. We remain committed to driving the ASAP message through multi-sectoral partnerships because we believe that the fight against substance abuse is everyone’s fight.”

In total, 18 schools across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria with a prevalence of high rate of substance abuse were selected for the quiz competition by the NDLEA and the UNODC.

The MTN Foundation launched ASAP in 2019 as a platform to promote awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and addiction and to reduce first-time substance use and casual substance among young Nigerians.