War against drug abuse in Nigeria received a boost today as the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) opened up a historic partnership with the wives of all the governors in a bid to curb the menace.
The event, which was attended by almost all the wives of the governors, took place at Frazer suite, Abuja.
Tagged a ‘two-day workshop on Drug Prevention, Treatment and Care, DPTC’, the first ladies would be armed with better information that will help drive drug demand reduction in their various states.
Chairman of NDLEA, Brig General Mohamed Buba Marwa noted that the workshop is of great significance to the strategic effort to control the abuse, trafficking and consequences of illicit drugs in our country.
According to him, the objective is to improve the governor’s wives skills and optimise their capacity to counter the drug phenomenon.
He added that Nigeria has now become a producer of and a market for Crystal Methamphetamine known locally as Mkpuru Mmiri.
“As we all are aware, the drug problem has become one of the world’s greatest challenges that threaten the well-being of human society. Consequences of drug abuse, including chronic health conditions and untimely death, are existential threats that cannot be ignored by any responsible government.
“Sadly, Nigeria is not insulated against this problem. Our country presently has some alarming drug statistics. For example, we are a major cannabis cultivating and consuming country. Four years ago, we had 10.6 million users of the psychoactive plant, which made Nigeria the world’s leading cannabis-consuming country.
“Likewise, Nigeria has also become a producer of and a market for Crystal Methamphetamine known locally as Mkpuru Mmiri. We all witnessed the havoc unleashed by this highly dangerous illicit substance in the Southeast region of the country last year.
As if that is not enough, we have also become a dumping ground for illicit pharmaceutical opioids, especially codeine and tramadol, just as we remain Africa’s major transit country for cocaine and heroin.
“Four years ago, the National Drug Use Survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, showed that the drug use prevalence in Nigeria is 14.4%. This is relatively high compared to the annual global average of 5.5%. That we have 14.3 million of our compatriots who abused drugs is food for thought.
“The consequences of this dire drug profile have begun to manifest. The findings of the survey suggested that 1 in 5 persons who had used drugs was suffering from Drug Use Disorder―that is approximately 3 million Nigerians, with no less than 155, 000 among them in dire need of medical treatment, at the time.
“Just last year, the World Drug Report 2021 warned of a likely 11% increase in the number of people who abuse illicit substances over the next eight years. About 40% of that increase is projected to come from Africa alone. When they say Africa, we should think of Nigeria, the most populous country on the continent.
“These are the bases for our renewed effort to muzzle the illicit drug problem quickly and preempt what could, in the nearest future, become a full-blown epidemic and a new problem area for the continent and our country. Yet, the situation is not altogether irredeemable. Indeed, the situation can be salvaged, reversed and controlled―only if we move quickly, and adopt strong, well-conceived, coordinated and holistic measures, of which this workshop is a part of the process.
“The past 16 months have witnessed an unprecedented variety and volume of activities by NDLEA to address the drug situation. The ones you are most familiar with are the drug supply reduction activities, such as drug seizures, arrests, prosecutions and convictions of traffickers. Within this spectrum, we were able to mop up over 3.4 kilograms of assorted drugs in 2021, which, together with cash seized, was worth over 150 billion naira. In the process, we arrested 12, 306 traffickers of which 1,385 were jailed. This year, as at the end of May, NDLEA has seized approximately 155, 000 kilograms of drugs and recorded 5, 341 arrests and 984 convictions.
“Meanwhile, in the background, we are also ramping up drug demand reduction activities such as counselling, treatment, care and rehabilitation with steady progress. From January 2021 to May 2022, a total of 11, 523 drug users have been counselled and treated in NDLEA facilities mostly through brief interventions.
“Still, we devote equal resources, energy and enthusiasm to Drug Use Prevention, which is calculated to shield the vulnerable groups, especially youths, from experimenting with illicit substances. The dynamics of the Drug Use Prevention approach entails reaching out to the grassroots, especially communities in local government areas of states.
“The mechanism for this assignment is the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) initiative, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 26, 2021. Since the launch, I had led a delegation to states, to political, religious and traditional leaders, as a way of giving impetus to this assignment. Subsequently, NDLEA delegations from state commands have embarked on WADA mission to the offices of Your Excellencies in your respective state, as we count on your support and active participation in achieving the WADA goals.
“The Drug Prevention Treatment and Care (DPTC) training is designed to enhance the capacities of stakeholders to implement evidence-based drug prevention education programmes, as well as enhance accessibility of treatment and care for those with Substance Use Disorder and also facilitate their social reintegration where and when necessary.”
The wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo commended NLDEA for the initiative, urging the governors’ wives to take the anti-drug message back to their states.