Okwe Obi, Abuja
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has revealed that illicit drug consumption amongst Nigerians is three times higher compare to global average, adding that over 3 million Nigerians live with drug induced disorder.
UNODC Country Director, Oliver Stolpe, who stated this yesterday in Abuja, to commemorate the 2020 International Day of Drug abuse and Illicit Trafficking, organised by Christabel Okoye Initiative, noted that although, the movement restriction imposed by the Federal Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, reduced intake, but the number is still telling.
He said: “We need to recognise that we have critical problems of drug use worldwide but specifically in Nigeria. In Nigeria presently, drug use is about 3 times high as the global average.
“We have more than 3 million individuals that live with a drug induced disorder. We just did a poll among young people. It is not necessarily representative of the entire population.
“But the outcome is quite telling nevertheless. This poll was done jointly with UNICEF. A total of 90 people across all States of the federation participated and 51 per cent amongst them knew somebody who used drugs in the course of the last 12 months.
“It is quite telling that half of them felt that drug use had increased as a result of the occurrence of COVID-19. It is true that restriction may have led very temporarily to making the obtaining or buying of drugs. But in the long run it actually adds different effect on isolation, fear and idleness.”
Meanwhile, Chairman, House Committee on Narcotic Drugs, Francis Agbo, faulted the number, saying it is higher than that and claimed that security vehicles are used to convey drugs.
Represented by Honourable Agbonta Uzor, he stated that for the problem of drug to be tackled, government should exert same amount of time and resources it is using to fight insecurity and Coronavirus.
“You cannot combat insurgency without combating drugs. The country director gave you a data that is under scored. Every ten youth uses drugs in Abuja. We should declare state of emergency on drugs. It is fast destroying the fabrics of Nigeria, not just the youth, but everybody.
“Drug abuse is what fuels crime, it gives the perpetrator courage yet it bothers us not. Reasons against losing the fight against drugs and insurgency, especially for NOA is because you do not have the skills, knowledge and funding.
“Security vehicles are used to move drugs in Nigeria. So, it is a very complex issue. The way we are fighting Boko Haram is that same manner we need to fight drug if we really want to succeed.”
But a Director in Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Titus-Awogbuyi Joyce accused parents of not devoting more time to their children which sometimes would push them into caving in to peer pressure.
Regardless, Okoye said all hands must be deck to curb the problem which is killing promising Nigerians and giving the country a bad name.