PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS AND INSECURITY
All the stakeholders must do more to check the menace
We are concerned that efforts to combat the influx and use of psychotropic drugs have not yielded much result. “The challenge of internal security within the country was traced to the uncontrolled influx and use of psychotropic medicines such as tramadol and chemicals that could be diverted for terrorist activities,” the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Director-General, Mojisola Adeyeye, once warned. Yet, available reports indicate that most of these drugs are readily available on the street. In Nigeria today, many people are into the business of illegal importation and sale of drugs evidently because sanctions are not being applied when the law is breached.
Chairman, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Ahmed Mora, recently confirmed that the spate of insecurity across Nigeria and other vices is as a result of easy access to psychotropic drugs by the youth. “Aside from codeine that we all know, there are other psychotropic substances that cannot just be dispensed over the counter because they have addictive tendencies. So, with this consultant cadre, more emphasis will be put on this to ensure these drugs are dispensed properly,” said Mora who pledged the support of the PCN on regulation of controlled and psychotropic drugs in the country. In the absence of a water-tight regulatory framework in the drug administration environment, this promise is a mirage.
Recently the FCT Minister singled out scavengers under the influence of hard drugs, as the catalysts of many criminal activities, including kidnapping which are on the rise in the territory. He declared them a threat to security as these homeless people have no means of livelihood and are willing tools to be exploited for arson and breach of public peace and order. In many parts of our country, abduction of people is now a thriving business as hardly a day goes by without news of people being kidnapped for ransom either in their homes or on their way to work or while travelling on the road. Unfortunately, some of these criminals are hooked to psychotropic drugs which they consume before carrying out their despicable acts.
Authorities at all levels have a shared responsibility to address this problem in a manner that will ensure that criminals addicted to drugs are prevented from exploiting the weak. Some of these drugs are sold at kiosks or store, motor parks and market places. The consequence of ignoring the danger of prescription but commonly misused drugs can be dire for our nation. We are already seeing the effect of how several years of violence, insurgency, and now banditry can destabilise a country and undermine its development. The military adventure in the north-east and other parts of the country is an expensive operation while many people have either been killed or displaced. There is also a profound threat to food security given that many farmers now find it risky to go to the field to plant and harvest crops.
We support NAFDAC for its commitment and resolve to contain the inflow of psychotropic medications, which are drugs that affect behaviour, mood, thoughts, and perception. We also appeal to other agencies to be more alive to their responsibility. The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) must be diligent in regulatory compliance while the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) that is obsessed with generating revenue should be more proactive in checkmating the activities of importers of these drugs into the country. There is also a need to review our value system, particularly at home and in schools. Parents have the obligation to discreetly vet the kind of company their children keep as a safeguard from being introduced to drugs and crimes.