EU, UNODC advocates sustainability on drug control interventions in Nigeria
By Mnena Iyorkegh, Abuja
The European Union, EU and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, UNODC, have advocated for more collaboration from international community for the effective implementation and sustainability in drug control and production in Nigeria.
The call was made at the closing ceremony of the EU-UNODC-Nigeria Partnership Project on Drug control to support Nigeria’s efforts to tackle drug-related challenges.
The project tagged “Response to Drugs and Related Organized Crime in Nigeria Project” is the largest EU funded initiative and has come to a close after ten years of operation in Nigeria.
The aim of the project was to support the efforts of the Nigerian Government and its various specialized agencies as well as civil society actors in the control of drug production, trafficking and use, as well as tackling related organized crime.
Speaking at closing ceremony of the project, the UNODC Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Oliver Stolpe, explained that despite the successes achieved in Nigeria’s response to drug control, there is need for sustainability.
“There are a lot of different aspects in the project some of them are sustainable others only future will tell how sustainable they are, the first thing was to make sure that the National Drug Control Master plan was included in the recurrent budget of the Nigerian government, that has happened, I think this is a big achievement and a good basis to start working towards sustainability. NDLEA has also put in place vast range of measures to ensure that all the capacity building of the programme are sustainable. They now have access to the global E learning platform of UNODC and that will continue to help in the future.
Dr. Stolpe, further called for more funding to sustain the interventions.
“The first critical one is the repeat of 2018 drug use survey, there is need to have a repeat of the survey to have a better understanding where we stand as regards drug control”.
Also speaking, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samula Isopi stressed the need for continued monitoring and partnership in order to achieve sustainability.
“Together with Nigeria and the technical support of UNODC, we have built capacity, we help organize the governance of the sector, this is very important for sustainability. We have laid a very sound basis and foundation for all the efforts to move forward, with or without us. The main element of this project is commitment, involvement of every one and holistic approach is what we need. This is the end of the project, but not the end of the fight against drugs and not the end of the cooperation. We will continue to work together, I see Nigeria taking a leading role in drug control on the continent”.
According to UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mathias Schmale, illicit drug production, trafficking and use are real threats to the stability, security and health of young people, families and communities in Nigeria and across this continent.
“Sustainability comes through investment in to people. Another success that will help sustainability is the eleven model treatment centers that exist. Another is the volunteers, including lawyers that are going to help those involved in drug crime… I am confident that by continuing to work together like we are between the UN government and international partners like the EU, we can strengthen these partnerships, create new ones and we can contribute to Nigeria by continuing and strengthening its response against drugs and organized crime”.
The Minister of State for Health Mr. Eumankama Nkama, expressed his appreciation to EU, UN and the various ministries, departments and agencies for implementing the project to end drug abuse in the country
“This project aligns with some of the objectives of the National Development Plan 2021 to 2025 and the National Drug Control master plan also 2021 to 2025. I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the European Union for the immense assistance to our country, the UNODC for their efforts in the implementation of this project and to other stakeholders”.
The Project worth forty million U.S dollars is the largest and longest running of its kind ever implemented by UNODC in Africa.
To ensure the sustainability of the success achieved, the project trained more than fifty master trainers, provided teaching tools and logistic upgrades to the NDLEA training college in Jos and provided access to thirty-three law enforcement related e-learning courses through UNODC’s Global e-Learning.