By Aderogba George
The United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) has said that 14.4 per cent of Nigerians are presently engaged in drug abuse.
This portend a negative trend to the future of the country, Mr Oliver Stolpe, UNODC Country Representative to Nigeria, said in Abuja on Tuesday,
Stolpe spoke at the third national youth conference on drug abuse organised by the Centre for Ethical Rebirth Among Nigerian Youth, a Non-Governmental Organisation.
He said that 27.7 per cent of the14.4 per cent of those concerned were youths who should face their studies and called for change in the narrative to secure their future.
“One in every 10 drug users is a woman; this has affected women and girls proportionate. Data collected around the globe suggest that this has elevated cases of Gender Based Violence.
“We must take decisive action in order not to make us lose their sight, we will support Nigeria government to pursue everlasting solution,’’ he said.
Mr Abhay Thakur, India High Commissioner to Nigeria, said that his country was taking a holistic approach in the fight against drug abuse.
Thakur said that the country’s national policy on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances was based directly on its constitution’s directive principles.
He said that the principles directed state to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes.
“The government policy on the subject flows from this constitutional provision and is also guided by the international conventions. The Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act provides the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
“Our apex national agency has the power to combat the drug menace, the mandate to control, regulate and monitor the manufacture, distribution, import, export, transportation and others any substance which the government may declare to be a controlled substance under the NDPS Act.
“The statutory regime in India consequently covers drug trafficking, drug related assets and substances which can be used, in the manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance,’’ he said.
The envoy said that the country had taken a number of timely and decisive steps to address each and every aspect of the drug problem.
He said that these include harsh drug control laws, committed workforce, training, and dedicated programmes.
Also, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed-Buba Marwa, Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), called for collaboration between the government and youths to secure the nation in the face of various drug substances.
Marwa, represented by Mr Femi Babafemi, NDLEA Director of Publicity, said that the statistic of Nigerians from drug related issues was troublesome, adding that there was need for perpetrators to take a new life.
“The UNODC reports show an alarming trend; our country has one of the highest drug prevalence in West Africa. The drug use prevalence in Nigeria, for ages 15 to 64 is approximately 14.4 which is almost three times the global drug use prevalence of 5.5 per cent.
“What is the implication of this figure? It means drug abuse is almost getting to an epidemic proportion. The World Drug Reports for the last two years identifies cannabis as the most abused drug.
“Our National Drug Use Survey in 2019 reveals that over 10 million people abused cannabis in one year,’’ Marwa said.
He said that the agency had set up some mechanisms such as the Special Purpose Committee that draws a pool of stakeholders to join the NDLEA in advocacy against illicit drugs.
The NDLEA boss added that he had been going all over the country to meet with opinion leaders, organisations, royal fathers, strategic institutions, religious and civil organisations to gather people for the “fight-to-finish campaign’’ against drug trafficking. (