15m Nigerians are Drug Addicts, Says Presidential Committee

Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd)

By Francis Sardauna in Katsina

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse in Nigeria, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (red), has said that 15 million Nigerians are drug addicts, adding that the situation has crippled many families and businesses in the country.

He reiterated that the alarming rate of drug and other substances abuse prompted the federal government to set up the committee to proffer recommendations and steps to be taken to tackle the menace across the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Addressing officers and men of the Katsina Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Thursday, the former military governor of Lagos State said the global average of drug abuse is five per cent, adding that: “But in Nigeria, we are at 15 per cent.”

“We have an emergency situation before us regarding the issue of drugs abuse in Nigeria. We do know that the causes of drug abuse include but not limited to poverty, joblessness and idleness which translate to looking for jobs. Rehabilitation and counselling centres are few,” he said.

While in audience with the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, Marwa told the governor that the committee commenced its work last December and has since finished plenary, hence the visitation across states.

According to him, “Government agencies involved the need to be strenghtened to be able to carry out their functions effectively and the demand side appears to be more difficult to handle.

“We also need to take preventive measures to ensure that those who do not take the drugs remain so. We have to interface with esteemed leaders across the country. We feel that there ought to be committees on drugs abuse right from the federal to the local governments and across the communities.”

Responding, Governor Masari attributed the alarming rate of drug abuse in Katsina State to “porous” nature of borders with the neighbouring Niger Republic, affirming that many Nigerians exploit the situation to smuggle illicit drugs into the state and the country in general.

He said: “What we have seen here in Katsina is the scary and alarming level at which young and married women consume illegal drugs and even take overdose of drugs that are permissible. The problem is very serious given the fact that the first contact a child has is with the mother.”

The governor added that his administration was determined to establish additional drug rehabilitation centres in parts of the state to address the scenario and complement federal government’s effort of eliminating drug abuse in the country.

Marwa’s committee also visited the Katsina Reformation Centre and Malam Niga Rehabilitation and Reformation Centres all in Katsina metropolis to assess the centres.

The committee is expected to hold interactive session with security agencies, religious leaders, traditional rulers and civil society organisations during its four-day visit in Katsina.