Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said Nigeria is winning the war against drug abuse.
He said this Monday at the occasion of the United Nations (UN) day against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking 2022 themed “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises” held at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Osinbajo, who stated that the days of the scourge of drug abuse and dependency were numbered, however, said that it would involve greater investment in focus and determination for the long haul.
He rued the prevailing menace of drug abuse in Nigeria, saying the development showed grave consequences for young people and undermined the security of the country.
He added that drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking which had become a global public health and socio-economic challenge placed a huge burden on the Nigeria’s health care system.
Osinbajo said the Federal Government had taken both specific and general actions over the past seven years to control or deal with the menace of illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria in particular.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (rtd). while speaking earlier, said it had begun measures aimed at improving access to treatment, care and rehabilitation in order to stave off the public health problems that were drug abuse-related as part of radical reforms in the fight against abuse in the country.
He disclosed the arrest of 10 major drug barons with many more on the NDLEA’s watchlist along with their foot soldiers.
Marwa said the agency had been involved in a series of training, including the one on Drug Prevention, Treatment and Care (DPTC) for the officers “to refocus from the criminalisation of drug users to provide the full gamut of health services for them.”
He said the agency had so far this year counselled and rehabilitated 3, 523 drug users mostly through brief interventions in its facilities.
Marwa, who said the agency had over the past few years focused on the treatment approach of the drug war, added that the NDLEA had set up a helpline and a website will soon be unveiled to scale up the drug war in the country.
The NDLEA boss, while commenting on the importance of partnership in fighting the drug scourge in Nigeria, stated that “At NDLEA, we have a sense of urgency in tackling the health consequences of the abuse of illicit drugs, and society is warming up to the idea that together we can end the drug scourge and we hope that the momentum will be maintained. We appreciate our major stakeholders for their support, thank you very much MTN for always being with us in the struggle to tackle the drug scourge in Nigeria.”
On his part, the Chairman, MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, reiterated the importance of advocacy in the fight against substance abuse in Nigeria
He said they decided to join the struggle to reduce addiction, drug abuse, substance abuse in Nigeria, having realised that the parents of the many young people who were on drugs were unaware of the development.
He assured that they would strategise with NDLEA to sensitise the younger generation on the danger of drug abuse as part of the organisation’s commitment to ensuring a drug-free society.
“As an organisation, we will continue to support the NDLEA especially in the area of advocacy. We must continue the talk until such a time when we can say to ourselves, we are making progress,” he said.
Goodwill messages were presented by representatives of government agencies and development partners, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The event which was also attended by school children also witnessed the launch of the NDLEA Branded Drug Testing Kits and the presentation of prizes to the winners of an inter-secondary school quiz competition by the Vice President.