Senate Moves to Tackle Drug, Substance Abuse

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Following the Senate’s resolution in October on the state of drug and substance abuse around the nation, the upper legislative chamber has moved to address the widespread use of drugs and other illegal substances through a stakeholder roundtable with state governments, local governments, traditional rulers, the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria and NGOs. 

The objective of the Roundtable which will hold in Kano on Monday and Tuesday, is to bring together relevant stakeholders to discuss the drivers of drug abuse in Nigeria, identify the psycho-social and medical impact of the phenomenon, assess current responses, legislative gaps and opportunities for action.

The expected outcomes of the Roundtable include: gaining a better understanding of drug use, prevalence, trends and patterns in Nigeria; understanding the current government and Civil Society capacity and efforts towards addressing drug abuse and related issues; gain insight into legislative, policy gaps and develop an Action Plan for interventions by the National Assembly and other stakeholders.

 Recall that earlier this year, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, expressed his concern about the widespread abuse of drugs by youths in the country.

In a series of tweets on his Twitter account (@bukolasaraki) on Friday, September 29, the Senate President posted, “I am particularly worried about the drug menace in the country. It is time that we recognize this problem and address it in a sensible manner.

“I will be pushing for the National Assembly to review all relevant laws on drug abuse. This will help to curb the widespread misuse of illegal and unsanitary substances. The Senate will engage with all relevant stakeholders as we initiate this process,” the President of the Senate said.

Until recently, the government has pursued a law enforcement approach in response to the challenge of drug trafficking, production and use.

Nigeria has ratified all United Nation’s drug and crime conventions and is supporting and participating in all major international and regional anti-drug initiatives, strategies and programmes.

The country has also enacted comprehensive anti-drug legislation and established several specialised national agencies to enhance the effectiveness and coordination of drug control policies.

The Roundtable will allow the Senate to effectively analyze Nigeria’s response to  the menace and come up with appropriate strategies on the way forward.