Following the BBC documentary on codeine addiction and its devastating effect on Nigerians particularly the youth, the Federal Government recently banned the production, importation and the use of codeine as an active pharmaceutical ingredient for making cough syrup.
That action was typical of our leaders, people who never seek shelter from the rain unless they are drenched. The problem of substance abuse has been festering for so long. Many journalists have talked about it on the radios and televisions. Editorials, features and opinion articles have been severally written on the malaise in the print media. The social media have been awash with drug addiction issues. But what did the Nigerian government do? Virtually nothing! No attention was paid to the problem. So for me, the BBC documentary did not reveal anything new. The only new thing is that the story was done by an “oyibo” media organization and that’s why the authorities are running up and down. We wait until some international agency labels us either in the positive or negative before we know the steps to take.
However, kudos to the BBC reporter for making our leaders rise up to their duties. Even though the ban on codeine may not stop its use as the sellers may go underground and start selling it at exorbitant prices, it may curtail its access and use. But the truth is that codeine is just one out of the many drugs that are being abused. There are many others – tramadol, valium, lexotan, blue boy and others. Will all these be banned not minding that people that genuinely require these medicines will be denied access to them? And if you ban all these, what will you do about the addicts who sniff pit toilets, lizard dung, and soak away to get high?
Besides, what is the assurance that these drugs will still not be freely available even after they are banned? Many years ago there was a ban on Indian hemp but has that stopped people from selling and using it? Are people not still growing it? Again, there is ban on the importation of rice, yet all the markets in the country are flooded with all sorts of foreign rice.
So, one will like to align with the people that believe the best way to curtail the abuse of these drugs is to strengthen the distribution network and truly control their distribution since most of them are controlled drugs. Let these drugs be sold by professionals and strictly with prescription as it is done in other civilized countries. Allowing non pharmacists have access to medicine and sell them like merchants is a major contributor to the rising cases of drug abuse which must be addressed.
Most importantly, what leads these youths to addiction must be addressed. Speaking on radio recently, a psychologist identified family dysfunction as a major doorway through which addiction creeps in. She said the negative attitudes and actions of parents have great effect on the children, some of who may blame themselves when things are not going on amicably among their parents and may decide to take solace in drugs.
Other reasons for addiction, according to the psychologist, are idleness and trauma. She said trauma like rape, death of a loved one, lack of parental care and love can easily lead youths to addiction. Of course, these are issues we deal with every day in our today’s society. Rape cases are on daily increase, people lose their parents and other relatives due to the incessant killings going on in different parts of the country. Children are daily being traumatized by all the killings, fighting and other negative things happening around them. The unabating herdsmen/farmers’ clash has left thousands of people homeless, fatherless and motherless and highly traumatized. What of political violence, Boko Haram killings, unnecessary killings and torture by the military. These have a lot of negative effects on the youth. No doubt, some have taken and some will take to drugs as a result of these.
Perhaps these are the issues the authorities need to address instead of merely banning the use of codeine or shutting down pharmaceutical companies that produce this drug. Let there be an end to all the senseless killings in the country. What about coming up with policies that will improve our economy and create employment opportunities to cater for the idle youths? What about having responsible governance at both federal, state and local government levels that will truly cater for the well being of the citizens instead of the common wealth being enjoyed by only a privileged few?
Government should also consider opening more rehabilitation centers across the country. That a country of over 180 million people has less than 20 proper rehabilitation centers doesn’t indicate that the country is serious about solving addiction problems.
Drug addiction is indeed a ticking time bomb that might consume the low and the high, rich and poor, educated and illiterate if urgent steps are not taken to address it now. To stem the ugly tide, all hands must be on deck. Parents, religious leaders, community and youth leaders, law enforcement agencies, nongovernmental organizations must join hands in doing the needful and educating our youths on the dangers of drug abuse. We must be concerned about this malaise and play our role to solve it in order to have an addiction-free future generation.
Nigeria Under The General’s Command
When the PUNCH Newspaper chose to address the current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, as a Major General, the newspaper’s decision generated a variety of mixed comments and reactions across the country and abroad particularly on the social media with a significant majority backing the newspaper while a minority criticised it.
To those who saw it as a figure of speech, depicting the president’s acts as one not in tandem with democratic norms, it is a subtle way of telling the president that he runs a government which does not observe the rule of law.
Definitely, that may not have been intended as a compliment no matter the spin, but without any untoward suggestion, the decision to prefix Buhari’s name with Major General, the writer suspects, could as well have been adopted to awaken the president’s consciousness to the fact that the nation whose leadership he presides at the moment, acknowledges and recognises him in that regard.
It also expects him to live out such position in the nation’s fight against insurgency. Afterall, the Armed Forces Act and other military conventions state that “once a General is always a General even when no longer in active service.” This goes to explain that Generals are, by experience and training, men of courage. They are hardy perennials; men who have distinguished themselves over the years in the field of battle.
They are military tacticians who devise the ways and means for defeating the enemy. Great Generals fear no foe, even those battle-ready and well-equipped. Suffice it to say that Nigeria is blessed to have a retird ‘General’ presiding over its affairs at such a time as this. The country is thus inexcuseable should it fail to profer solution to this lingering menace of insurgency.
Femi Aribisala of Premìum Times, writing on “ The National And The Government Interest” , September 11, 2018, said “ It is always necessary to remember that, before Buhari became president, he was a general. “As a matter of fact, our dear president has been, for the major part of his life, more general than president.
Therefore, if the popular Nigerian axiom would say that : “once a senator, always a senator;” it becomes even more appropriate to say: “once a General, always a General. President Buhari was, is, and always shall be, a General”, he concluded.
Let us not forget that the ex-army general was propelled to Nigeria’s top job five years ago with promises of fixing pervasive insecurity, his confidence was basically premised on his military background especially having attained the highest echelon of his career as a General.
When he ran for president the fourth time in 2015, he was sold as the experienced war commander who had the magic wand to make Boko Haram terrorists disappear. The All Progressives Congress (APC) and their supporters confidently said that he would end the terrorist attacks in the North -East in three months.
Given his military track record, only very few people could doubt his ability. On this premise, hundreds of thousands of Nigerians thronged the streets of Nigeria to celebrate Muhammadu Buhari’s historic win in the presidential election of 2015, hoping the country’s problems would end soon.
His words few days in office, “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will, we shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism,” were signets of war lords, like his title indicated, who had gone, seen and conquered. His initial exhibitions on assumption of office, such as the relocation of the country’s military command from Abuja to Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, highlighted him as a General with a sense of direction.
With some gains recorded by the military within a short period, such as the recovery of lost territories, there were high hopes of a timely end to the menace of insurgency. Unfortunately, the honeymoon seemed shortlived, as Boko Haram regrouped, carried out vicious attacks, over ran military bases and killing security operatives.
All these are in addition to herders-farmers clashes erupting across states, leading to the killing of hundreds and displacement of thousands. Till date, a replay of the words of a renowned writer, Nosa Igiebor, reveals that the statistics of innocent Nigerians who suffer violent death, horrible injuries, and mass dislocation and displacement daily are quite numbing.
Yet, the government’s impotence, incoherence and self-inflicted confusion in dealing with the scourge appear damning. This is in spite of an earlier move by the federal government to rev up the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the North East, in which it procured 30 aircraft and six helicopters for the Nigeria Air Force (NAF).
We were also informed that the federal government has deployed drones to the nation’s borders in the north-east to combat the Boko Haram insurgency. Unfortunately, the Air Force says it could not open fire during the Boko Haram attack in Garkida, a town in Gombi Local Government Area of Adamawa State, for fear of killing innocent people.
The lawmaker representing Gombi constituency in Adamawa State House Of Assembly, Japhet Kefas, has said, “It is true people are fleeing Garkida because they are afraid government is weak and has failed to protect the lives and property of the people. Only five soldiers were stationed in the area used by the insurgents and they killed three of the soldiers.
Like the proverbial unprofitable barber, is it that the scissors is not sharp or the barber not proficient in his job? If with all the weapons of war at our disposal, we still lack the courage to advance in a battle led by a ‘General’, is it under the control of an idle civilian that we can strike?
Checking Indiscriminate Waste Disposal
Since the beginning of time, people have needed to find a way of disposing their trash. It is imperative to note that proper waste disposal is important to ensure safety of life and avoid possible health hazards.
Indiscriminate waste disposal is an improper way or manner by which individuals and organizations get rid of their trash. These practices include dumping refuse by the roadside, along streets, on major roads, as well as in various rivers. Solid waste generation has greatly improved to an uncontrollable rate in the society, this happens due to human daily activities and economic activities.
Due to inadequate waste disposal methods, dumping of refuse in unauthorized places is now the order of the day. Overpopulation, industrial revolution and urbanization have become major causes of waste generation as well as improper waste disposal.
Lack of appropriate storage facilities , unavailability of proper waste management and planning ,wrong perception by residents and nonchalant attitude toward the environmental cleaning and sanitation, is also a cause of this indiscriminate waste disposal.
The problem of indiscriminate waste disposal has brought so much pain and ills to the environment and society at large. We can point fingers at the outbreak of various epidemics, infectious diseases, and other human environmental degradation such as flooding, drainage obstruction and waterway blockages in most parts of the country like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Aba, etc. It has been noted that heaps of littering trash are in virtually all market areas, on the streets and even on the roadside and these wastes remain there for many weeks without devising any means of waste collection, either by private individuals or the government.
Some areas have also been abandoned when inspections are going on by the government, or even during environmental sanitation. I assume such attitude is an act of negligence on the part of waste disposal agencies or the environment ministry.
Waste management and indiscriminate waste disposal is one menace that has to be curbed with immediate effect, and checkmating the activities of persons who dispose waste products in an improper way, must be done from the grassroots level. It is a joint effort from both the government and citizens of the nation and this must start from the family.
Government should focus on collection of waste products from households. They should encourage homes and individuals to bag their wastes in plastic bags as this would help to avoid littering.
Most people drop biscuit wrappers, cans, bottles and water sachets by the roadside in cars and on highways, which is why the government should move and foster for a cleaner and healthier environment.
There should be adequate financing for each state to support and help them in waste disposal projects. Waste bins must be placed in strategic areas on streets and communities for effective monitoring.
Illiteracy and low level of education is another factor that can constrain the thinking of most citizens. For instance, in places such as GRA, Victoria Island, and other known places where the supposed educated elite reside, and do daily business, inadequate waste disposal or improper refuse dumping is barely seen or is at the lowest because they know the dangers of the act and how littered their environment can be. But in these places where the average or low class citizens live, it is on a high range, therefore, proper sensitization and advocacy programs should be done to educate the general public as to why they should disease from dumping waste indiscriminately.
The government should also encourage individuals who set up private waste collection agencies by reducing taxes paid and also workers of the ministry of environment. They should clean these wastes from the roadside from time to time, and be encouraged by increasing their take home pay. This would enable them see the work as a responsibility and thereby curb nonchalance.
Laws and sanctions should be made to discourage persons who engage indiscriminate waste disposal. Persons could be arrested and persecuted by a court if they flaunt orders. Fines can also be issued depending on the level of offence by anyone who is caught.
Apart from all these measures mentioned above, the government should also encourage practice such as recycling of industrial waste products such as cans, bottles, papers, clothes, etc. Also, biowaste products which include those materials that can decay such as food items, leaves, banana peels should be biologically turned into manure and fertilizers.
This is why the government should set up recycling agencies and also monitor the collection of this waste to avoid improper disposal.
Unlawful solid waste dumping in the society must be checkmated. There is an urgent need for government and private stakeholders to implement policies that can prevent the littering of waste in the environment. Human health and the environment need to be safe guarded from unsustainable conditions which are caused by indiscriminate waste disposal in our society.
The government alone does not have the responsibility of checking indiscriminate waste disposal also it is the duty of every organization and individual to take it upon themselves to keep the environment healthy and clean.
Dennar is a student of Abia State University, Uturu.
Promoting Our Mother Tongue
It’s that time of the year when attention is paid to the importance of mother tongue and the need to promote, protect and preserve the languages of people of the world. Following the killing of some students of Bangladesh on February 21, 1952, during a protest for the recognition of their language, Bangla, as a national language, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at its 30th General Assembly on 17th November, 1999, resolved that their death day be commemorated globally as International Mother Language Day.
The United Nations recognizes that languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing the people’s tangible and intangible heritage. It encourages all moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues as that will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multi-language education, but also help to develop further awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
Events like this should be used to assess how we have promoted indigenous languages in Nigeria. What measures are being taken to promote the study of Nigeria’s local languages which are fast going into extinction?
At an event recently, the President of the Institute of Project Managers of Nigeria, Dr Victoria Okoronkwo, raised alarm over what she called an emerging trend which might lead to loss of local language and dialects, if urgent measures were not taken to check it.
Okoronkwo disclosed that studies showed that 60% of most Nigerian profound dialect speakers are above 50. Quoting a United Nations report, she said the percentage of children that speak local dialects is thinning down. “This may result in loss of our identity, our culture, our moral values and heritage. Hence, preserving our dialects is an important national challenge that requires our urgent and collective responsibility”.
Similarly, other experts had revealed that most Nigerian indigenous languages would be extinct in the next three decades, while about 90 per cent of them were projected to be replaced by dominant languages.
Observations show that many people no longer speak their dialects. Many parents, especially the educated ones, do not communicate with their children in their dialect and really don’t care if their children speak their language or not. All they want is for their children to speak English and other foreign languages.
Beyond this is the worrisome attitude of some people making a person who speaks his or her language feel inferior. A young woman recently narrated how her friends who are all from the same ethnic group with her, mocked her whenever she spoke her native language in their midst. For being proud of her language they nicknamed her, “bushmo” indicating that she is a primitive, local girl.
Language is defined as arbitrary oral symbols by which a social group interacts, communicates and self, expressed. It enshrines the culture, customs and secrets of the people. So, instead of looking down on people who speak their language, and making them feel their language is something to be ashamed of, we should try to instill pride in them and emulate them.
Countries like China, India, Brazil, and Japan have used their indigenous languages to excel, why can’t Nigeria do the same? Three years ago, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, announced the Federal Government’s plan to promote pupils’ interest in Mathematics and science subjects through the teaching of these subjects in indigenous languages. He said that lack of economic growth and development will continue to stare the country in the face if science, technology and innovation are not given serious attention.
He observed that prior to enrollment in schools where they are taught in foreign languages, pupils grow up with their indigenous languages at home. As a result, there is usually a challenge to understand the foreign language first before they could even start understanding what they are being taught. He attributed pupils’ low interest in Mathematics and science subjects to this challenge and posited that teaching these subjects in indigenous languages will help students to understand Mathematics and science subjects and also promote the application of science and technology. Three years down the road, we are still waiting for materialization of the well cheered plan.
Prior to that there was the 2004 National Policy on Education which stated that government would ensure that the medium of instruction in pre-primary and primary would be principally the mother tongue. According to the policy, the medium of instruction for primary education shall be the language of the environment and same for junior secondary where it has orthography and literature.
The big question then is, what effort has federal, state and local governments made to implement this and other similar policies? How far have they gone with the development of orthography for many more Nigerian languages as well as protection and promotion of our indigenous languages?
There is need for conscious and concerted efforts by all levels of government to promote the teaching of our languages and inclusion of same in the school curricular. Other States should toe the steps of Rivers State which recently inaugurated a technical committee on modalities for the teaching of indigenous languages in public schools in the state. This initiative, if followed through, will no doubt see to the revival and promotion of indigenous languages in Nigeria.
However, the policy should not be restricted to only public schools. It should be extended to private schools with thorough monitoring to ensure compliance as many of them are very good at promoting foreign languages, cultures and ideas at the expense of our own.
In addition to these, national dialect essay competitions should be organized regularly both at all levels of government, to promote the use of our dialects in the best grammatical way possible. This will ensure sustenance and preservation of the dialects. Most importantly, we need reorientation of our minds in order to take pride in our languages and preserve them. If we as owners of these languages do not stand up to ensure that they do not die, who will?
By: Calista Ezeaku
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