Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Nigeria’s estimated population of about 180 million has about 15 million drug addicts, according to the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd).
Describing the development as alarming, Marwa, who was military governor of Lagos State, put the global average rating of drug use and abuse at five per cent, “but, in Nigeria, we are at 15 pert cent.”
Marwa said this on Wednesday, in Kaduna, in company with members of his committee, when he addressed officers and men of Katsina Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
“We have an emergency situation before us, regarding the issue of drugs abuse in Nigeria,”Marwa said and explained that the Federal Government decided to raise the committee to proffer recommendations and steps to be taken to resolve the issue of drug abuse in the country.
Marwa had earlier visited the Katsina Government House, where he told Governor Aminu Bello Masari that the committee commenced work last December.
“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 the drugs, in terms of cutting the supply because you must have drugs first before the abuse. Government agencies involved need to be strenghtened 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 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 drugs abuse; right from the federal to the local governments and across the communities.
“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 counseling centres are few. We will interface with religious organisations and traditional leaders and also, examine the Almajirai situation and embellish it with Western education. The Almajirai, 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.” However, according to Masari, “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.”