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Drugs abuse in Nigeria: Failure of statecraft

Why do people do drugs? This is always the first question that pops up whenever one ponders on the menace. Addicts are likely to flood one with a million and one reasons. Some just want to be ‘high’, to be serenaded to some realm of bliss or what some would prefer to call cloud nine. Some would alibi it on frustration and always feels some temporal coolness when in that high realm. In other words, that depressed fellow facing a lot of problems who is high on drugs is likely to hit the realm of phantasmagoria.

The fact remains that the above push factors are never obliterated by doing drugs. The problems could even appear bigger and graver when he or she returns to sanity. I shall return to these points.

The recent documentary released by the British Broadcasting Service that majored on the abuse of codeine and other illicit kinds of stuff by Nigeria youths triggered a lot of local and international media hoopla and backlashes. As usual, the federal govt engaged in kneel jerk reactions that further exposed the failure of statecraft.

The documentary exposed the moral bankruptcy of those who manufacturers, those who sell these drugs, those who regulate the circulation and sales and those who man our borders.

Codeine, Tramadol and the rest are drugs that not supposed to be sold over the counter. Anyone in need of any of them ought to be armed with a verifiable referral note. Why is it that the drugs are everywhere at rock bottom prices? That is still the failure of statecraft.
The regulatory agencies are weak and corruptible. Those who compromised are never punished. So, the impunity razes on at the detriment of the youths and the larger society.

Take for instance: A man who is high on drugs will see nothing wrong in engaging in social vices like rape, violence, vulgarities and the likes.

Investigations revealed that 90 percent of those who engage in suicide bombings are always high on drugs. They are heavily drugged before they dragged themselves to wreak havoc. Also, Men and women who sport in domestic violence are always under the influence of drugs.

What would you say to a wife who uses a knife to rip up the bowels of her husband or a husband who grabs his wife and smashes her head on the wall and repeats the same dastardly act on their little daughter who watched helplessly? What a crazy world.

One must appreciate that the abuse cuts across ages, regions and religions’ affiliations. But the several research showed that the abuse is more ubiquitous among the young people between age 15 – 35 and that it is more prevalent in the core Northern states.

Late last year, it echoed in the Senate that over 3 million bottles of codeine were consumed in Kano and Jigawa state daily. Young boys and girls, men and women (even married ones) are all caught in the opium.

Before the alarm was sounded in the red chamber, Nigeria media had previously released their researches on the menace. I recalled some detailed ones by TVc and Ms. Inya Odeh of the Nigeria Info FM.

They did not only unearth their ugly findings, they proffered solutions. Alas!the federal and other tiers of government simply looked the other way. I was alarmed when they quickly acted few hours after the BBC unveiled their own documentary anchored on the same subject matter.

That, the govt refused to act when Nigeria journalists blew the trumpet and quickly jumped when BBC did theirs’ reflects the failure of statecraft and the govt’s disdain for local media. I was so sad when nobody gave any credit to the local media.

Let’s return to the Senate. The senators, after a long debate on the menace and its consequences, arranged a summit in Kano. That Kano summit, that had every sector of the society represented dwell on the menace and its impact on Northern Nigeria.

That was quite understood. The various researches were in harmony as regards its prevalence up North and the fact that it was not just the youths affair. Various papers were presented. For me, the Emir of Kano stole the Show.

His presentation captured the situation apply. He appreciated the challenges and proffered solutions. He also told the audience that even many of the elites were not drugs free. He ended with a shocker.

That his Emirate would give no chieftaincy title to anyone with no certified report of the drugs test. “He or she must be illicit drugs free! Otherwise, no title!

He also proposed a system that will ensure that the test as a must for political office holders and same for those coming into public offices. I truly supported the Royal father.

How would one explain the reason behind a governor buying luxury SUVs and giving same to federal lawmakers when the recipients already same and more? In a state where poverty and crime walk on all fours? Is he normal?

How would one explain the mindset of kleptomaniacs who steal billions of public funds? It takes over 20 years to exhaust a Billion Naira even if a spendthrift decides to spend a hundred thousand every day. Some people would steal even Ten Billion and one would ask “to do what?”

I recall when Senator Isah Misau accused IGP Ibrahim Idris of corruption on the floor of the Senate, the following day, the PPRO Jimoh Moshood went shirty in the media. According to him, the senator was under the influence of drugs and that he should not be taken seriously. The senator denied.

True or false, the fact remains that drugs abusers are found everywhere. It is an ill wind that is ferociously blowing evil across the land. I feel terrible because the solutions, proffered in Kano have been gathering dust somewhere.

Now that BBC has released its own research, one can only hope and pray that the govt and other stakeholders will begin to work towards eliminating this ugly menace.

The rehabilitation of addicts is also key. The pull and push factors like unemployment, poverty, depression, oppression, and patriarchy should be tackled holistically. Only then shall we begin to sing a paean or better put, a song of victory. As it is now, we are in big trouble.

My fellow youths and everyone out there, in the name of God, I beg of you, flee from illicit drugs. It’s not good for you. For all addicted people, may God’s healing hand be upon them.


Comr. Okhifo Oscar is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja.

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