As the 2023 general elections approach, there is the need to draw attention to the nexus between drug abuse and electoral violence.
Looking at the statistics of 2011, post-election violence led to the death of at least 800 people over three days of rioting in 12 states across northern Nigeria — the worst case so far in the country’s political history. Unfortunately, the Nigerian youths, who are the supposed leaders of tomorrow, are used as a medium by greedy politicians to visit mayhem on their opponents and innocent citizens, and this singular act affects the credibility of democracy, which elections are supposed to project.
Political thugs cannot fully operate without the use of illicit substances. This is so because drugs and crime work hand-in-hand. Therefore, the NDLEA which is now very active and effective should deploy more efforts in the aspect of drug supply reduction because when the chain of drug manufacturing and distribution is broken, the crime rate during this election will be brought down to the barest minimum.
Putting aside the fact that election violence is fuelled by greedy politicians and other public office holders, it is also true that there are people who consume drugs on their own during the election in an attempt to calm anxiety but end up engaging in crimes. It is not the duty of the NDLEA alone to manage election violence but it is that of the citizens and other stakeholders as well. We also need to take this campaign to every doorstep in our various communities; our worship centres, market square, homes and schools.
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Since the Nigerian youths are the ones who are mostly used as thugs to perpetrate election violence and also the largest population that use drugs, the media can also assist to sensitise them as they also constitute the largest population that uses social media.
This is a call for drug demand reduction in our various communities; a call to every household to look closely into their environment and report every suspicious drug activity to NDLEA or at least a law enforcement agency. This is a call for a drug-free election.
Nkup Nanzem wrote from Jos, Plateau State