By Yemisi Ajayi, Ibadan
The Oyo State Commander of NDLEA, Mr Ralph Igwenagu, has vowed to crack down on illicit drug traffickers and suppliers in the state following reports by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the high rate of drug abuse in the state.
Igwenagu said this while receiving the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA), South-West Zone, in Ibadan.
“The statistics released as a result of the survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is greatly alarming.
“The agency is ready to work round the clock to rid the state of illicit drugs and attendant crimes.
“Drug abuse has awful consequences on the society and we are going to change the narrative through collaborative efforts, enhanced public sensitisation.
“We are going to enhance our operations and ensure that the demand and supply of cannabis sativa and other illicit substances is reduced to the barest minimum,” he said.
Igwenagu also appealed to residents of the state to support NDLEA in the war against drug abuse and addiction.
The committee headed by Prof. Oluwatoyin Odeku, said that Lagos and Oyo States have the highest drug prevalence rate of drug abuse in the South-West Zone at 33 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
Odeku said that the rate of drug abuse in the state was alarming as the spate of violence and crimes among youths had been linked to unrestricted access to illicit drugs and psychotropic substances.
“Drug use epidemic has reached highly preoccupying levels with 40 per cent of our youths engaging in substance abuse.
“This is disturbing, because these are people between the age of 18 and 35.
“There is a rapidly evolving trend toward the non-medical use of prescription drugs, such as tramadol and codeine syrups.
“This spate of substance abuse has contributed to increased disease prevalence.
“As a committee, we are set to fight this menace of drug abuse and addiction through interaction with the public, advocacy and increased public sensitisation,” she said.
In his remarks, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, the Director of Public Affairs, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), said that the fight against drug abuse and addiction required a multi-sectoral efforts.
Jimoh, who is also a member of PACEDA, identified environmental factors including peer influence as major contributing factors to increased drug abuse among youths.
“Factors contributing to drug abuse is multi-dimensional, including experimental curiosity among vulnerable groups and economic determinism.
“This has gone beyond unemployment and poverty because we now have children of the elite and the rich engaging in substance abuse.
“Membership of NAFDAC in PACEDA is strategic because the fight against drug abuse requires concerted effort.
“The prevalence rate is an indication that the menace of drug abuse is not just a problem with the developed economies.
“It is a herculean task, but it is surmountable with collective action,” he said.