The profile of Drug Abuse in Nigeria has become significantly worrisome most recently. Its attendant effects on socio-economic, psychological, and political spheres of life in the Country have continued to manifest with multiple strings of troubles. The United Nations Organisation (UNO) on Tuesday, told the National Assembly that Nigeria has now been categorised to be the highest in Drug Abuse prevalence rate in the world with 14.3 per cent as against 5.3 per cent for the entire global community. This was made known in Abuja at the one-day sensitisation workshop on Drug Abuse and Rape organised by Christabel’s Initiatives and facilitated by the Senate and House of Representatives joint committee on Narcotic Drugs. The National Programme Officer of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Mrs. Folusho Adelekan, who expressed worries over the prevalence of drug abuse in Nigeria, said that available statistics showed that there are 14.4million drug users in Nigeria and 14.3% prevalence rate, stressing that this is higher than the global statistics of 5.3% drug use prevalence rate. She lamented that though Nigeria has 5 years National Drug Control Master plan, it is not being well funded in terms of operation. She said: “The National Drug Control Master Plan Nigeria came up with within the last two years, is not being funded adequately and the menace requires actions packed operational strategy that must be well funded. Aside from the lack of a well funded operational plan, there are no enough treatment or rehabilitation centres in the country for drug addicts. Even in the realm of prevention, enough actions are not being put in place in terms of education, sensitization, and discipline at the home front.”
The preponderance level in the abuse of hard drugs among the Nigerian populace is rising to the height of a troubling menace, with threats of disturbances to the society. Its prevalence among the youth, and more disturbing, the adolescents remains a source of worry to what the future holds for this young generation. The impacts of hard drugs have begun to manisfest in various ways with the prevalence of various forms of crimes ranging from robbery, banditry, gangsterism, kidnapping, and cultism. The relativity of the use of hard drugs to these criminal misadventures, among other forms of social deviances have been recorded to hold strong bearing links.
While the Government is struggling to address the heightening spate of insecurity challenges in the Country, it is important that attention be turned to addressing the menace of the prevalence of the abuse of hard drugs across the Country. Since perpetrators of various forms of crimes have been observed to act under the influence of hard drugs, it is essential that the Government clampdown heavily on the mobility of hard drugs and its use across the Country. This is important as a strategic tool to drastically reduce the prevalent rate of crime and insecurity in the Country.
The need to establish a special Task-force with strategic operations distinct from existing anti-drug agencies such as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is much significant. However, the objectives of such Taskforce should be directed to corroborate the workings of existing anti-drug agencies. It is essential that the National Assembly and the various State Houses of Assembly work with a vision of purpose to come up with new legislations and amendments of existing ones, efficient to drive the efforts of the Executive arms for forceful execution of a heavy clampdown on abuse of hard drugs.
It is more important that while the Government explore the legal instruments, efforts should proactively be made for public enlightenment campaign against the use of hard drugs. Such campaign should be explicit and elaborate to sensitise Nigerians, particularly the youth on the threats and implications of using hard drugs on their personal health and the society at large. Penetrating institutions of learning from the lower cadres in the primary and secondary schools to the higher academic institutions, is rational to make the campaign very proactive.
It is germane that the Government allocate substantial resources to fund the campaign against the prevalence of hard drugs in the Country. Correctional centres to attend to drug addicts should be established across the Country to admit them for rehabilitation, rather than leaving them spread helplessly where they may constitute threats to the society, thereby breaching safety and security. The mental health of every society is key and holds strong bearings on its productIvity and orderliness. The Government should appreciate this fact and move accordingly in action.