Assembly approves N214.9bn for 2017
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i of Kaduna State, yesterday, raised the alarm over the disturbing rate of drug and substance abuse in the North.
The governor said recent studies indicates that drug addiction is threatening a generation of women and youths.
He described the situation as a ‘sorry tale’ and said it was time to seek realistic solutions to mitigate destructive outcomes of substance abuse in the country.
The governor, who spoke at a one-day seminar in Abuja, with the theme, Substance Abuse: An Impediment to Gainful Employment, organised by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), said “no part of Nigeria is spared of the malaise, including the rural areas,” adding that substances that were once unknown have acquired notoriety among the youth, who now put them to some negative use.
Investigation by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), showed that a great percentage of young women across northern Nigeria, including students of tertiary institutions, working class ladies, married women and a vast majority of unemployed girls, are hooked on drugs.
Wife of Niger State Governor, Dr. Amina Abubakar Bello had, in May, said that “the situation has become so critical that the Northern Governor’s Wives Forum decided to make it one of their focal points when advocating at the highest levels of government.”
Represented by the Director General, Kaduna State Bureau for Substance Abuse, Dr. Bukar Shado, the governor urged all relevant stakeholders, including Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and other security agencies to work together to effectively tackle the scourge.
“We have created a bureau to fight substance addiction, with appropriate legislation and protocols for referrals and treatment of persons with substance abuse issues,” he stated.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who was represented by Director, Special Duties in the ministry, Mr. James Olusoji lauded the collaboration between NDE and NDLEA, and urged the anti-narcotics agency to continuously provide professional counselling services to beneficiaries of all NDE job creation programmes/schemes.
Earlier, in a welcome address, Acting Director General of NDE, Mr. Kunle Obayan said the challenge of substance abuse was threatening the labour force, noting that it causes industrial losses and low productivity.
Also, yesterday, KadunaHouse of Assembly passed the 2017 Appropriation Bill, three weeks earlier than it did last year.
The lawmakers approved N214.921 billion, up from the N172 billion approved for last year.
The 2017 budget is made up of recurrent expenditure of N83.46 billion and proposed capital spending of N131.45 billion. The budget ratio is 61:39 in favour of capital.
El-Rufai, presented the draft budget titled: “Jobs, Social Justice and Equity” to the House of Assembly on October 12, 2016.
Education (N44.84bn), Infrastructure (N24.50bn) and Health (N10.49bn) got the biggest budgetary allocations, according to the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi.
Speaking at the presentation of the draft estimates, on October 12, Mallam el-Rufai explained why Kaduna State chose an expansionary budget.
“We are convinced that the pursuit of economic recovery must now be a national focus. Even with the limited influence any of the 36 states can alone exert on our national economic fortune, we can encourage some buoyancy in each of our states and collectively support the effort of the Federal Government to secure economic recovery. Moments of recession have an outsized adverse effect on the most vulnerable and we must not let it persist,” he said.