Of Youth And Drug Abuse

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Tomorrow, June 26, 2018, the global community will commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, with the theme: “Listen First: Listening To Children And Youths Is The First Step To Help Them Grow Healthy And Safe”.
June 26 of every year is set aside to highlight the dangers of drug use and trafficking, among others, by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC).
By Resolution 42/12 of December 7, 1987, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe the date internationally as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.
In his message on this year’s occasion, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Gutterres noted that “In West Africa, the $85 billion global cocaine trade is exacerbating addiction and money laundering while fostering political instability and threats to security”, adding that because of the urgency of the threat posed by drug trafficking and abuse, he has “established a task force to develop a UN system-wide strategy to coordinate and strengthen our responses to illicit drugs and organised crime by building them into all UN peacekeeping, peace building, security, development and disarmament activities”.
The UN scribe underlined the responsibility governments bear to counteract drug trafficking and abuse and also indicated that communities can make huge contributions towards curbing the menace.
It is against this background that The Tide appreciates and commends the recent moves by the Federal Government to tackle the scourge with the ban of codeine in the country.
However, we are worried by the recent revelation by a university lecturer in Gombe State, Mr Anas Kubalu, that more than 40 percent of youth in the Northern part of Nigeria are engaged in drug abuse which has made them unproductive and ready tools for criminal activities. Also, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammed Musa Bello, last Saturday, raised the alarm that women in the same region of the country have also been taking to drugs at an alarming rate. The Southern part of the country is not an exception.
It is an established fact that substance abuse which is the excessive and or obsessive use of drugs for non-medicinal purposes leads to addiction characterised by a compulsion to take drugs on a steady basis in order to experience its mental effects. The habitual dependence on drugs gives rise to mental, emotional, physical, social and economic instability at all levels of the human society.
Violence, social deviance, mental disorders, upsurge in crime, erosion of societal values and cultural norms, and premature death are some of the derivatives of drug abuse, addiction and trafficking. With such a huge population of our young people (and women) involved in this destructive venture, government at all levels and every other group and individuals that mean well for the future of our country must be concerned.
This is why The Tide urges the Federal Government to go beyond the rhetoric of banning codeine to ensuring that the order is effected and other psychoactive substances and illicit drugs are brought under control within the Nigerian borders.
The government must acknowledge the nexus between the availability and access to hard drugs such as cocaine, heroine, tramadol, Indian hemp among others, and the unabating subversive activities of the Boko Haram, the rampaging murderous herdsmen, cultism and armed banditry in parts of the country and factor it in dealing with the challenges.
The Federal Government should also strengthen the operational capabilities of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other bodies to check the movement and use of unwholesome and illegal drugs and substances in the country. The formulation and implementation of a policy to take the war against drug abuse to our educational institutions, including nursing and primary schools, should be embarked upon urgently.
There is no doubt that government’s effort alone cannot achieve the desired result. Our traditional institutions, youth groups, community development committees, town unions, civil society groups, non-government organisations, religious organisations, parents and guardians and the media must all commit to playing effective roles to salvage our society from this present and very potent danger.
Parents and guardians specifically must live up to the challenge of raising responsible children through close mentoring and monitoring, especially given a recent UNODC’s report which shows that the age of first drug use in Nigeria is between 10 and 29 years.
Meanwhile, rehabilitation of those who are victims of drug abuse must be given appropriate and adequate attention.