Nigerians have been called to work together, to fight the menace of drug abuse particularly, among women and youths.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki made the call at the opening ceremony of a two-day Senate Roundtable on Drug Abuse Epidemic in Nigeria, held at Bristol Palace in Kano State.
Dr. Saraki said the lawmakers were in Kano to rid the entire country of drug abuse which has for too long been the unacknowledged enemy of Nigerians.
“The toll on lives and livelihoods alone is difficult to estimate; it manifests daily in the wrecked lives of individuals, damaged families, and distorted economies…We need to send a clear signal from Kano to all Nigerians that this epidemic must be controlled and can be controlled.”
“The time has come to look that enemy in the face and say, enough is enough,” he explained.
Closing down fake drug businesses
He ordered all drug abuse regulatory agencies such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, and Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, PCN, among others to swing into action and close down drug abuse-related business including pharmacies.
Dr. Saraki told them to arrest operators in the next two weeks or “forget consideration of their 2018 budget before the Senate.”
The Senate President regretted that there was an interplay between dirty money, drug importation, distribution, and abuse, which must be stopped.
“When drugs are imported through the ports, nobody checks who imported it and for what purpose and these drugs are distributed. We all have faults,” he stated.
Dr. Saraki said that there was the need to improve on inclusiveness, especially with regard to communities and professional bodies in designing policies and legislation to stop drug abuse.
“In the next budget, we will provide better funding for the relevant agencies. We will also follow up to ensure the funds are properly applied for the purpose they are meant for…I promise that we will display political will to tackle the problems in the relevant agencies,” he stressed.
Kano State Deputy Governor, Professor Hafiz Abubakar appealed to the Nigerian Government to complement the efforts of the Kano State Government in the fight against drug addiction.
He said; “the State government in collaboration with security agencies, regulatory agencies, and drug abuse committee have seized and destroyed over N4.1 billion Naira worth of illicit drugs in 2017, while another worth more than N1billion naira is waiting to be destroyed.”
Professor Abubakar represented the State Governor at the event.
Building rehabilitation centers
The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, urged the Nigerian Government to make it a priority to establish well-equipped rehabilitation centers across the six geopolitical zones of the country where victims would be cared for with the hope that they would be reintegrated into the society and be useful to themselves and the nation at large.
Rather than formulating new laws and policies, the Emir suggested that the existing laws and policies governing the production, sale, and distribution of drugs be revisited and properly applied
The Emir took a swipe at the decreasing family values, elite, political class, and security agencies for being complicit in the war against drug abuse in the country.
“Unless politicians stop engaging the services of drug addicts and thugs who have found their ways into government payroll as bodyguards used to attack opponents, nothing would be achieved. In fact, perpetrators should be regarded as criminals and prosecuted. We deceive ourselves if we do not accept that we are part of these problems as such, we are sitting on a time bomb,” the Emir warned.”
He equally called for the drug test on politicians to qualify them for eligible leadership positions.
– Mercy Chukwudiebere I VON