CURBING DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING IN NIGERIA
By Aliyu Othman
The fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking has been a United Nations’ concern over the years. The UN in various resolutions and conventions emphasized the need to wage a decisive war against drug abuse and illicit trafficking and free the world from the menace.
The UN International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking is marked every year on June 26. This year’s event, with the theme “Share Facts About Drugs,” seeks to ensure that all available data on drug abuse and control measures are based on facts and figures. This is aimed at improving planning and control measures to manage and redirect nations’ plans for the war against drug abuse and its illicit trafficking.
The International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking was declared by the United Nations at the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The protocol that amended it in 1971 as well as the General Assembly resolution on the International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking were targeted at finding lasting solution to the challenge of drug abuse and trafficking.
The UN Office on Drug Control (UNODC) remains the vehicle used by the world body to sustain the awareness and measures taken to manage drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking, which led to the successes recorded so far. These include the adoption of youth advocacy on drug abuse, dangers and effects of drug abuse on nations’ human capital development and the health concern over drug consumption amongst others.
Drug abuse plays a major role in many social problems around the world. Drug abuse leads to major health challenges, crimes, violence among others. It destroys the capacity of the youths, which gives rise to crimes like insurgency, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, rape, extremism as well as family and community disintegration.
In Nigeria, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is the organization that drives the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking in the country.
The new leadership of the NDLEA has brought in new ideas and strategy in its fight against drug abuse and trafficking. It now engages major stakeholders as one of its tactics in fighting the menace.
As part of efforts to fight drug abuse, the NDLEA under the chairmanship of retired General Buba Marwa, a former Nigeria High Commissioner to South Africa, adopted far-reaching measures that have started yielding results.
The agency adopted the fourth National Drug Control Master Plan 2021-2025 (NDCMP) a strategy that aims to contribute towards improved health and security of Nigerians.
The drug control master plan also aligns with international and regional protocols and conventions of the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UNODC resolutions.
The fourth NDCMP acknowledges that the problems arising with drug supply and consumption are not restricted only to people who abuse drugs but have wider health, social and economic consequences on the family, community and the nation at large.
The plan contains four strategic pillars namely: supply reduction, drug demand reduction, access to controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes and governance and coordination.
The NDLEA must vigorously make effort to secure Federal Government’s approval of the master plan in order to curb the widespread abuse of drugs and trafficking with its disastrous consequences.
Nigeria is believed to have millions of drug addicts made up of youths, children, and adults, including married men and women. Such staggering figure must be reduced quickly through the control of drug consumption, sale, access and blockage of about-to-be trafficked substances at the entry and exit points in Nigeria.
The drug control measures should identify youths as partners, Non Governmental Organizations as stakeholders to reach out to victims of drug abuse and in some cases identify the barons and traffickers and ensure that they are brought to book.
Government could also consider measures such as random drug tests on students in secondary and post secondary schools, political office seekers, and other categories of Nigerians as part of efforts at reducing drug abuse and in Nigeria.
The NDLEA must as a matter of urgency improve on its collaboration with strategic sister agencies, international donor agencies and the parliament to enact enabling laws that will protect informants and staff of the agency towards achieving lasting solutions to drug related issues in Nigeria.
The NDLEA must painstakingly implement the NDCMP because the plan promises to be the game changer. It has the potentials to drive down the menace of drug abuse and trafficking in Nigeria. The plan also promises to be a model for other African countries.