Nigeria is currently battling a worrisome drug abuse problem and has one of West Africa’s highest drug prevalence rates.
This submission came from Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa, Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); who cited a report from the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC).
Specifically, he was speaking at the third National Youth Conference on drug abuse organised by the Centre for Ethical Rebirth Among Nigerian Youth, a Non-Governmental Organisation on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
Accordingly, Marwa called for collaboration between the government and youths to secure the nation in the face of the disturbing abuse of various drug substances. Represented by Mr Femi Babafemi, NDLEA Director of Publicity, Marwa noted that the statistic of Nigerians from drug related issues was troublesome, adding that there was need for perpetrators to take a new life.
“The UNODC reports show an alarming trend. Our country has one of the highest drug prevalence in West Africa. The drug use prevalence in Nigeria, for ages 15 to 64 is approximately 14.4 which is almost three times the global drug use prevalence of 5.5 per cent.
“What is the implication of this figure? It means drug abuse is almost getting to an epidemic proportion. The World Drug Reports for the last two years identifies cannabis as the most abused drug.
“Our National Drug Use Survey in 2019 reveals that over 10 million people abused cannabis in one year,’’ Marwa said.
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Furthermore, he said that the agency had set up some mechanisms such as the Special Purpose Committee; which draws a pool of stakeholders to join the NDLEA in advocacy against illicit drugs. Also, the NDLEA boss added that he had been going all over the country to meet with opinion leaders; organisations, royal fathers, strategic institutions, religious and civil organisations to gather people for the “fight-to-finish campaign’’ against drug trafficking.
However, he held that the battle requires the support of every individual.
Equally important, Marwa’s submission came against the backdrop of a report from the UNODC which noted that 14.4 per cent of Nigerians are presently engaged in drug abuse.
Mr. Oliver Stolpe, UNODC Country Representative to Nigeria, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday; even as he disclosed that the development portends a negative trend to the future of the country. In addition, he said that 27.7 per cent of the14.4 per cent of those concerned were youths who should face their studies.
Consequently, he called for change in the narrative to secure their future.
“One in every 10 drug users is a woman. This has affected women and girls proportionate. Data collected around the globe suggest that this has elevated cases of Gender Based Violence.
“We must take decisive action in order not to make us lose their sight. We will support Nigeria government to pursue everlasting solution,’’ he said.