Daily Trust (Abuja)

27 November 2012

Nigeria: Fighting Drug Abuse for Sustainable Nation Building

opinion

Sokoto — The nexus between youths, drug abuse and crime has been well documented; it makes alarming reading. The consequences are devastating, and can shatter the future of nations.

According to a UK report, about 2,000 Nigerians are arrested on drug-related offences annually. In Nigeria, the situation isn't different. Youths, who form the vast majority of the Nigerian population are being lost to crime, insanity and trafficking. These consequences further compound the already existing problems of poverty, unemployment and insecurity. The level of substance use by Nigerian youths is worrisome and the trend if unabated threatens the economic prosperity and peace of Nigeria. Many lives have been ruined, many careers thrown into jeopardy and many families broken; this mammoth is eating up every facets of our society.

The dangers of drugs can no longer be ignored by any nation. Drug abuse affects individuals, their families and the society as a whole. Drug abuse often leads to crime as a result of reduced impulse control, paranoia and negligence. Thus, affects law and order, economic production and human welfare. Many of these youths are already in debt traps, while some have resulted to stealing, prostitution and other hideous crime to keep up this injurious lifestyle. In Kano for example, one Bello Garba Bello was recently sentenced to death by hanging for killing his parents and three of his siblings while under the influence of drugs.

One major sad consequence of drug abuse in this country is how unscrupulous politicians, who are supposed to be responsible for the future of these youths, initiate youths to substance abuse for their selfish political agenda. Lacking a clear sense of purpose, these wards are engaged as political thugs attacking opponents and destroying properties. In most states of the federation, during the electioneering, these political thugs are seen smoking marijuana, driving recklessly through the streets in government official cars. This simply signifies government official's support for drug abuse. Some governors have gone as far as enlisting these political thugs on the state's payroll. Political thuggery has become an important aspect of politics especially in the North. It even gets worse as the governors care less; they send their kids abroad, neglecting the welfare of the other children and forgetting the fact that they are actually destroying our budding generation.

It is time to start educating kids about drug abuse. At home and in schools, teaching them to make the right choices, empowering them to resist negative peer influences and helping them to fully understand the adverse impact of drugs. As the family and school form the bedrock of socialization, parents and teachers are saddled with the responsibility of instilling discipline and character. Besides the educational institutions and homes, religious institutions have an important role to play in stepping up awareness against drug abuse. Our religious and other community leaders must therefore continue to teach our youths that no society can survive without certain principles of morality.

The cyberspace offers ample opportunity to communicate with youths. Through the pervasive use of social media and internet forums we can generate a massive media support. Not leaving out the traditional media; jingles, documentaries and TV spots can stimulate immediate actions from the necessary quarters. Also through annual essays, poster competitions, debates etc., we can further desensitize the minds of youths against drug abuse. I also think that an open rally in public places like markets, motor parks, campuses, NYSC orientation camps should be encouraged. In this way, our youths will be adequately aware of the evil act and its consequences on their destinies. If all these measures are put in place, eradication is only a matter of time.

Rehabilitation centres should be established to cater for drug addicts. The society must offer a welcoming atmosphere to help reformed addicts succeed in the real-life. To ensure a 100% rehabilitation rate, the environment must be filled with hope and trust, not despair and condemnation.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) with the National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration and Control (NAFDAC) need to introduce more punitive measures to check drug abuse, and by working hard to reduce the ease of buying and selling drugs. All that is needed to get rid of this menace in our society is the right attitude and the will. State governors must also join the fight. The efforts of some states, particularly Kano, to tackle the problem by banning the production and distribution of cough syrups containing codeine and tramadol, are a good start should be encouraged.

Let's create a drug-free society.

Kwari wrote from Sokoto

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