By Chuks Akamadu
In recent times, the media – both conventional and new – had been awash with tales and grisly videos of young men hooked on Mkpurummiri (Crystal Methamphetamine), the ice-like synthetic street drug that has hit the South-Eastern part of Nigeria with growing rage!
Whilst other harmful substances such as Colorado and Flakka cause involuntary teeth clenching, blurred vision, increased heart rate, bizarre behaviour, paranoia, agitation and delusion of super-human strength, among others, Mkpurummiri, cheap and accessible, is an extremely potent and addictive stimulant that wrecks the central nervous system and alters one’s judgment. Worse still, Mkpurummiri walks about with a yoke of death sentence which is the fact that there is currently no approved treatment for its addiction.
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Apparently aware of the present and worsening danger this epidemic portended for their collective survival, communities had in separate instances risen in unison to object to and proactively roll back the emergent trend that was rapidly bringing their youths under its vice grip. The spontaneous community action which included having addicts tied to beams and trees and beaten mercilessly had received both applause and knocks – the latter for its human rights and jungle justice dimension. There was even a reported extreme case of an addict who was burnt alive by the youth of his community for killing his father in order to take the deceased’s N50,000 just to buy Mkpurummiri.
As the South East groaned, there also was no respite for other parts of the country. Amid all this was news of growing number of seizures, arrest, prosecution and convictions recorded by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Heightened concerns were raised by well-meaning Nigerians as regards the institutional capabilities of state actors to contain the hydra-headed drug scourge with its far-reaching health, security and socio-economic implications.
Then came the soothing balm of December 6, 2021: the official launch of the long-awaited National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP) 2021-2025. The first had happened in 1999. The second was the 2008-2013 Plan whilst the third and immediate past was the 2015-2020 Plan. To be fair, the Inter-ministerial Drug Control Committee that developed the document in partnership with European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) did an exhaustive job. All the stakeholders led by the NDLEA deserve commendation, for a careful reading of the new Plan clearly shows that the authors took full benefit of credible research studies, drug use surveys, gaps in previous Plans and invaluable Report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA).
Notable among the key issues adequately addressed by the 2021-2025 Plan are inclusiveness and coordination. This fourth NDCMP, we are told, “represents a continuity and advancement in the Government of Nigeria’s effort towards addressing the evolving drug situation in a comprehensive, integrated, multi-disciplinary and inclusive manner”. This is something to cheer about and deserves the buy-in of every well-meaning Nigerian and group.
For all practical purposes, the 2021-2025 Plan is rooted in broad-based consultations among partners and stakeholders and harmonised with the existing international and regional conventions, lessons learned and global best practices.
The central objective of the Plan is to improve health and security for everyone resident in the country – a legitimate aspiration that is anchored on four key pillars namely: Drug Supply Reduction; Drug Demand Reduction; Access to Controlled medicines for Medical and Scientific Purposes; and Governance and Coordination. With each of the relevant MDAs being alive to its well-defined, streamlined, respective responsibilities, the Supply Reduction Strategic Pillar is expected to significantly reduce production and supply of illicit drugs whilst Drug Demand Strategic Pillar is designed, chiefly, to build on the sensitization, advocacy, prevention and treatment programmes carried out in the previous NDCMP cycle, among others.
Similarly, the Plan envisages that Strategic Pillar on Access to Controlled Medicines for Medical and Scientific Purposes would address the issue of lack of availability of controlled medicines for genuine patients and its severe impact on the health and wellness of Nigerians. On its part, the Governance and Coordination Pillar seeks to synchronize the efforts of relevant MDAs for effective implementation of NDCMP 2021-2025. This no doubt smells nice.
It even smells nicer when President Muhammadu Buhari in his published endorsement of the Plan stated thus: “On my part, I assure you of this administration’s commitment in providing the required resources for the effective and implementation of NDCMP 2021-2025”. However, where the real challenge rests are in the willingness and enthusiasm of all concerned to comply with Mr President’s crucial charge: “I strongly encourage all partners and stakeholders to wholeheartedly embrace this plan; align their interventions with the intended objectives of this document, and contribute to improved health, well-being, development and security of all Nigerians.”
As the arrowhead of this drug control effort, I’m afraid the NDLEA has to accept the additional responsibility of encouraging and promoting compliance amongst stakeholders and partners for better coordination and optimal outcomes. This document can only be as good as its implementation. When history would have a duty to appraise the 2021-2025 Plan’s performance, it wouldn’t bother itself with its fine letters, elegant language or well-intentioned goals; rather, it would focus strictly on the level of implementation and impact on the health and security of Nigeria and Nigerians.
Arise O’ Compatriots and recognise the NDCMP 2021-2025, rightly, as our shortest route to victory over Mkprummiri, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, heroin, diazepam, cough syrup, tramadol Colorado, Flakka etc. With this “victory”, our land would be secure, our youths in good health and the future guaranteed for sustainable development. Let’s seize the moment. No effort should be spared.
Chuks Akamadu, President, Centre for Ethical Rebirth Among Nigerian Youths (CERANY)