Written by the chapter leaders of SSDP Nigeria.Students for Sensible Drug Policy Nigeria recently held their very first Leaders Advocacy Bootcamp, which took place 21-23 October at the TMN multimedia centre in Opebi Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. In attendance were over thirty student leaders from across Nigeria who came to be a part of this impactful event, which was tagged “Creating Road Maps for Change.”
At the beginning, participants were introduced to the activities and mission of SSDP, including what we stand for, past achievements, and future engagement opportunities. Stephen Oguntoyinbo, SSDP Nigeria’s country representative, explained the reasons they organized the event to participants and laid out the agenda for the weekend. The camp was organised to discuss policy issues in the region, brainstorm solutions, draw an action plan for the region, and train participants on various advocacy tools. The weekend also included leadership training intended to hone the communication skills of participants towards being better advocates of drug policy, harm reduction, and human rights.
Participants were engaged by a great array of speakers from SSDP and Students for Liberty. Facilitators included Uju Silver, Stephen Oguntoyinbo, Fidelis Bonaventure, Moronfolu Adeniyi, Dare Akinlaga, and Olanrewaju Gideon. Jake Agliata and Stacia Cosner from SSDP’s international staff in the United States also skyped in to share their wealth of experience and also inspire the Nigeria team.
Uju Silver gave a speech on volunteerism and why participants should volunteer for organisations such as SSDP to get more involved in drug advocacy. He also highlighted the benefit SSDP can have to their careers & community and gave a brief history of drug policy issues in Nigeria. Uju was later joined by Moronfolu Adeniyi, who gave a presentation on harm reduction and risky drug use patterns among youths.
There were interactive sessions on differences between a ruler and leader with a special focus on Africa’s leadership style. Participants also engaged in debates to break down pre-conceptions about drugs and drug use, intended to educate the audience on a broader understanding of the different types of drugs and their effects through the use of visual presentations. Dr. Obua Victor, a member of the group, used his medical background to enlighten participants on drug use and the federal laws in Nigeria. The last session of the camp was by Olanrewaju Gideon, who talked about fundraising tactics as it is critical and instrumental to the development of any organization.
To conclude the event, Moronfolu Adeniyi rounded off with an overview of Students for Liberty’s mission, which is to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of liberty leaders in the world. He also urged participants to access the various opportunities available in the liberty movement and advised them to apply for the African Students for Liberty local coordinator program.
The event rounded off with a photo session and free distribution of SSDP souvenirs, reading resources, and t-shirts from both SSDP and SFL to all participants. Feedback was also collected from participants so that the next event can be improved upon. The Bootcamp ended with loads of positives and prospects for Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Nigeria