By Ruth Oketunde/Jessica Dogo
The Beer Sectoral Group (BSG) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) says it is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Education to check drinking among the underage.
The group also says it has inaugurated the fourth edition of its SMASHED project in Abuja for the purpose.
“SMASHED project is aimed at breaking the culture of underage drinking and reducing alcohol-related harm among underage persons in Nigeria”, the group said in a news conference in Abuja.
Mr Baker Magunda, the chairman of the group and the Managing Director, Guinness Nigeria, said that BSG consists of leading beer manufacturers in Nigeria including, Nigerian Breweries Plc., Guinness Nigeria Plc. and International Breweries Plc.
He said that the project had been launched in 25 countries and “the initiative is focused at helping teenagers build confidence in the face of peer pressure of taking alcohol.
“SMASHED is a global project that started in 2005 and the idea behind the project is to use drama and theatre to help adolescents understand the dangers of alcohol to their health.
“The outcome of the project is intended to empower young people to make the right choices and not be put under social pressure to chose to drink alcohol before they are adults.
“We have reached more than one million adolescents across the world and the project has been launched in 25 countries across the world.
“In Nigeria however, in the five years that we started this project, we have touched directly 65,000 adolescents in 35 institutions, government and private.
“We are using this medium to deal with the social issue that we know exists, we brew, produce and market alcohol, and we if used responsibly, alcohol is a good thing but if abused, especially by minors, it harms their health”..
On his part, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, represented by Dr Apeh Andrew, commended the group for taking the bold steps of empowering the adolescents to make right choices and decisions.
“I want to commend the BSG for the bold initiative and for disregarding the commercial gains and for taking a firm stance against consumption of alcohol among people less than 18 years of age.
“Government and the private sector have a shared social obligation to make a positive impact on the society.
“We want to ensure that school curriculum are robust and reflects the need of the society and the need to inculcate right values and principles in children to guide them through life.
“Underage consumption of alcohol is one issue that requires interventions through moral education, with the advent of social media, children are exposed to all forms of influences, both positive and negative.
“Though, this project comes as entertainment, it is highly commendable as we approach this as a public private partnership in social responsibility,” he said.
The event featured a drama presentation by Tespian Family Theatre and Production group, highlighting the negative impact of underage drinking and how alcohol intake could affect the emotional and psychological state of young adolescents.
The event had in attendance representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and industry stakeholders, among others.