There have been many reports about drug trafficking from the nation’s airports, which occur on daily basis. But beyond the drugs being trafficked, it has become obvious that Nigeria is also a consuming nation of hard and illicit drugs.
A visit to drug rehabilitation centres will show how many young Nigerians and others who are suffering from drug debilitation. Most of them have been damaged mentally that getting them back as normal human beings remains a herculean task.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) noted that illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse constitute a serious threat to societal peace, growth and development.
“Illicit proceeds derived from drug trafficking can be diverted to finance terrorist activities or used to fund campaign of drug barons and their cohorts. Laundered funds affect the economy because they are illegal. Illicit drugs also influence criminal acts like murder, armed robbery and rape among others. Drug abuse accounts for a large number of untimely deaths across the world,” spokesman of NDLEA once remarked in a presentation.
Festivities like the Christmasuletide and New Year tend to trigger high use of drugs as the celebration is followed by excitement and sometimes loose behaviour. Then there is peer pressure which tends to instigate aberrational actions.
Recently the Chairman/Chief Executive, of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (rtd) highlighted the dangers of drug abuse during holiday season calling on members of the public to celebrate safely.
Abdallah said people are likely to drink beyond their limits or try other drugs in search of intoxication than other times of the year. Abdallah, who gave the advice as commanders of the agency conclude a summit in Jos, Plateau State with the theme: “Change Begins with Me”, said people who use drugs put themselves and others at risk usually through drug induced road accidents, unprotected sex, increase criminality and violence, loss of family members and other environmental impact.
“Availability of free drinks may also influence more people to indulge in a binge. Drug use could degenerate from mild to severe impairment and life threatening condition. There is also the problem of people recovering from drug use relapsing during the festive season. It is important therefore to celebrate safely without drugs this season,” the NDLEA boss stated.
He. However, said that people who have problem with drug use must not be discriminated against because they are like other patients suffering from ailments like headache, fever, back pain to mention a few.
The agency promised quality and affordable counseling and rehabilitation services. It, however, called on family members to show love and care to affect loved ones with drug abuse problem. Apart from illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin and cannabis, the abuse of legally acceptable drugs like alcohol, cigarettes, cough syrup with codeine, fuel and inhalants also received priority attention at the summit.
“Abuse of unconventional substances has been widely reported, especially in the northern parts of the country. Although the chemical substances found in inhalants may produce various pharmacological effects, most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication, with initial excitement followed by drowsiness, dis-inhibition, light-headedness, and agitation. If sufficient amounts are inhaled, most solvents and gases produce anesthesia and can lead to unconsciousness” Abdallah stated.
The agency urged members of the public to monitor their children and family members to identify abuse of drugs and substances. Families were also encouraged to engage in drug abuse counseling to prevent people from experimenting with drugs, noting that the link between drugs and crime was equally re-echoed at the summit with commanders pledging to work harder in the days ahead to prevent illicit drug production, cultivation, trafficking and abuse.
“Most criminal acts are perpetrated under the influence of drugs and to reverse this trend we must adopt strategies to eradicate drugs from our society. I am optimistic that everyone will leave this summit as change agents, adequately informed to drive the transformation agenda of the present administration. Commanders will be better informed with latest success strategies in drug control. They will also be motivated through enhanced service delivery through the peer review platform provided by the summit,” he added.
Also the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, who attended the event noted, “The global community has signed up for this war against transnational organised crimes and the drug trafficking. Nigeria being a signatory to this conventions and protocols must ensure it continues to strengthen the national framework for sustaining the war. Every government that is determined to have a sane environment will therefore not pay lip service to exterminating illicit drug trafficking.”
Lalong, while commending the NDLEA for the success recorded in the drug war so far, also called for community participation in drug control. He urged the agency to ensure that as part of its preventive measures to cultivate collaboration with vital ministries, departments and agencies of government that will help the war to succeed.
“Government will continue to do all on her part to mobilise community participation in ridding our society of the menace of illicit drugs. NDLEA cannot succeed without the communities ensuring that they are actively involved in the anti-drug crusade in markets, schools, religious centres and all public places. The State has sustained the war against ‘Goskolo’, an illicit alcoholic substance across all the local government areas,” the governor stated.
Local consumption of drugs has been on the increase as moral decadence, foreign influences are spread by the social media. Economic difficulty and peer pressure tend to force people to escape from reality through drugs. This is a huge challenge to NDLEA, which must innovate to discover new strategies to curb drugs abuse in Nigeria.