President Muhammadu Buhari has described the danger posed by illicit drugs as deadlier than insurgency, banditry and other threats bedeviling the country.
He called on the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to step up the fight against drug use by destroying production sites and laboratories, breaking supply chain, discouraging usage while also prosecuting offenders and traffickers.
President Buhari spoke at the State House Saturday during the launch of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), an initiative of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The event was held in commemoration of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, with the theme, ‘Share Facts on Drugs. Save Lives.’
The president, who was represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, also directed the NDLEA to rid the vast forests of the Southwest and South-south regions of criminal elements, who had turned the areas into land for cultivation of marijuana and hideouts, from where they launch onslaughts.
“I want to draw the attention of the agency to the fact that the use of many of our forests as criminal hideouts is because large swathes of cannabis plantations are hidden deep within those forests, especially in the Southwest and the South-South. You may, therefore, need to drive these criminal elements from such hideouts because they use it for the growth of these plants and also as a repository for criminal elements to conclude and plan their adventures on our people,” Buhari said.
According to him, the war against drugs is a war that must be fought by all. “It is my pleasure to declare on behalf of the good people of Nigeria, a War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), not just as a slogan, but a call for civil action for all Nigerians to take active part in this war.
“Let me say that this war is more deadly than the insurgency we have in the Northeast or the acts of banditry in the Northwest or the acts of kidnapping that transcends all geopolitical zones, because it is a war that is destroying three generations. I have seen clips of where grandparents are on drugs, parents are on drugs, and by extension, their children are on drugs.
“This is a war targeting three generations in a stretch. So, it is deadlier than even the security challenges that we have in this country and I believe strongly that every effort must be put in place to ensure that we deal with the issues of substance abuse, trafficking and manufacture, so that we can get to the root cause of insecurity confronting this nation. I believe strongly that if we are able to deal with the issues of drug abuse substantially, our security challenges will drastically reduce as we walk towards a drug free Nigeria.
The President called on families, schools, civil society organisations, professional associations, religious organisations, the academia, community leaders and individuals to work for the common good in order to rid communities of drug use and trafficking.
He promised to continue to address underlying causes of drug abuse, including poverty reduction, while also expressing appreciation to stakeholders and international collaborators, especially the European Union, and the United Nations Office for Drugs and Control, for their unwavering support to Nigeria’s drug control efforts.
“Also appreciated are the members of the inter-ministerial committee on drug control, civil society organisations, the academia, for their contributions and efforts to our National Drug Control initiatives.”
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
World Drug Report 2021, COVID-19 pandemic effects have ramped up drug risks, as youths underestimate cannabis dangers. Globally, around 275 million people are said to have used drugs in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders, according to the 2021 World Drug Report, released Thursday, June 24, by UNODC.
The Report further noted that in the last 24 years, cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent, despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, especially among regular long-term users.
“Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use, and the findings of UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report highlight the need to close the gap between perception and reality to educate young people and safeguard public health,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly.
“The theme of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Share facts on drugs. Save lives,” emphasising the importance of strengthening the evidence base and raising public awareness, so that the international community, governments, civil society, families and youth can make informed decisions, better target efforts to prevent and treat drug use, and tackle world drug challenges.”
Moreover, most countries have reported a rise in the use of cannabis during the pandemic. In surveys of health professionals across 77 countries, 42 per cent asserted that cannabis use had increased. A rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs has also been observed in the same period.
According to the latest global estimates, about 5.5 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the total number of persons who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders.
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