The Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse has revealed that there are 15 million drug addicts in Nigeria, out of an estimated population of 180 million.
The chairman of the committee and former military governor of Lagos State, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa who disclosed this while addressing officers and men of the Katsina Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Thursday said the situation had affected many homes and businesses adversely.
He said the global average rating of drug use and abuse is five per cent, noting that “In Nigeria, we are at 15 per cent.”
“We have an emergency situation before us regarding the issue of drugs abuse in Nigeria.
“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.
He said the Nigerian government decided to raise the committee to proffer recommendations and steps to be taken to resolve the issue of drug abuse in the country,
Earlier, while in audience with the Katsina State governor, Mr. 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.
“We started our work since December and finished the plenary and now we are visiting states across the country.
“On the whole, we are facing the supply side of drugs, in terms of cutting the supply because you must have drugs first before the use. Government agencies involved need to be strengthened 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 the 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 drug abuse, right from the federal to the local governments and across the communities.
“We do not know that the causes of drug abuse include, but it’s not limited to poverty, joblessness and idleness which translate to looking for jobs. Rehabilitation and counselling centres are few. We will interface with religious organisations and traditional leaders and also examine the Almajiri situation and embellish with western education. The Almajiris, in the course of their training, do other things that are not good for them.”
In his remarks, Masari described the state’s borders as porous, adding that “unscrupulous elements exploit the situation to smuggle illicit drugs and other substances into Nigeria.”
“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 fundamental issue which we have to address is massive investment in education. The most effective way is massive investment in public education, because that is where you have over 90 per cent of the population,” he said.
However, Masari said his administration was determined to establish additional drug rehabilitation centres in parts of the state to address the problem and complement federal government’s effort of eliminating drug abuse in the country.