By Damilola Oyedele in AbujaÂ
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has warned that the widespread drug abuse among young Nigerians is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Saraki, in a statement issued Tuesday, commended the documentary titled ‘Sweet Sweet Codeine’ by BBC Africa: Africa Eye, which detailed the prevalence of drug and substance abuse in Nigeria.
In the statement signed by Saraki’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sanni Onogu, the Senate President said such documentaries are real-life attestations on the need for Nigeria to take its drug abuse problem more seriously.
He recalled that the scourge informed the recent stakeholders’ roundtable on drug abuse convened by the Senate in Kano State.
â€œEven though I have been working on this issue for a few months now, watching the BBC documentary was another eye opener.
“Nigerians can now see that if care is not taken, we could be sitting on a catastrophe. We cannot all just fold our arms and expect this issue to fix itself. This is everybody’s problem,” Saraki said.
â€œAs things stand, following the Roundtable on Drug Abuse that held in Kano in December 2017, we have already developed a draft Legislative framework for the control of narcotics and psychotropic substances and the provision of mental health and substance use services in Nigeria,” he added.
The Senate President also disclosed that the Drug Control Bill set to be introduced at the National Assembly, will strengthen the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other relevant law enforcement and regulatory bodies to eradicate the illicit production and trafficking of controlled substances.
â€œThe Mental Health Bill will ensure the availability of mental health and substance abuse services in every state, as well as guarantee the enforcement of minimum standards of care for people with mental health disorders,” Saraki added.
He also stated that Nigeria cannot expect to tackle mental health issues with just one psychiatrist for 1.6 million citizens.
“This legislative framework that we are preparing recognises the low number of mental health practitioners in the country, and works to rectify that problem by ensuring that quality mental health and substance abuse services are available for this underserved segment of the population,” Saraki said.