Despite the infrastructure deficit, Jumia’s impact is being felt in secondary cities
By Jérôme-Mario Utomi
I still vividly remember how in 2008 Nigeria and most Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief as the country was certified by the United States of America (USA) to cooperate in the anti-narcotics crusade. for the eighth consecutive time in 2008, with George Bush, the former President of the United States, noting that Nigeria has made significant progress in the war on narcotics and has cooperated effectively with the United States on matters related to drugs and money laundering.
Although he (Bush) said the obvious, and the majority of Nigerians believed the nation was winning the war on drug trafficking, critical-minded Nigerians it was highly doubtful that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) maintains this record because no one in management has done anything to institutionalize such performance.
Apart from this challenge, the agency then also bore the crest of an underfunded body and was renowned for the small workforce it gained through a long period of neglect by previous administrations.
As expected, the euphoria over the US certification was short-lived, as events and reports of the nation’s efforts in that direction suddenly nosedived without faltering.
This negative trend in leadership continued until very recently, when the former military administrator of Lagos and Borno states, Mr. Mohammed Buba Marwa, was appointed in January 2021 as NDLEA chairman / chief executive officer by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Prior to his appointment, Marwa had worked as chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) between 2018 and December 2020, with others to develop a plan on how to end the drug abuse. drug abuse in Nigeria.
Today, I cannot categorically say that all is well for the nation in its efforts to free its citizens from the trade, use or effects of illicit drugs.
But looking at the country’s current instinct and the exciting progress in that direction, especially the agency chief’s recent statement that N6 billion of insurgent drugs were intercepted at Apapa Port in the Lagos State, the situation explains something new and different.
But before that, this piece will add context to this speech.
According to available records, the fight against drug abuse in the country has been around for a very long time and is supported by numerous federal laws.
In fact, it dates back to 1935. Some of the most important laws against the cultivation, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs in Nigeria are as follows;
The Dangerous Drugs Ordinance of 1935 promulgated by the British Colonial Administration, the Indian Hemp Decree No.19 of 1966, the Indian Hemp (Amendment) Decree No.34 of 1979, the Indian Hemp Decree (amendment) and the Special Court (various offenses)) Decree No. 20 of 1984, Decree of the Special Court (various offenses) (Amendment) of 1986 and Decree No. 48 of 1989 of the National Drug Control Agency ( as amended by Decree No. 33 of 1990, Decree No. 15 of 1992 and Decree No. 62 of 1999).
These laws were harmonized as an Act of Parliament, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004. This law established the NDLEA.
But sadly, these legions of laws have neither significantly provided a solid, effective and efficient source of solution to illicit drug use in the country, nor provided meaningful frameworks that are sufficiently comprehensive to offer legal solutions to the problems of drug trafficking or trafficking. its application.
However, at present, with Marwa’s leadership, the country has become, against all known logic, visibly dangerous for both illegal drug peddlers and consumers. It’s not business as usual anymore.
Also characterizing the administration of Marwa as exemplary is its integration into the approach. It is not specific to a class. Its recent awareness-raising / awakening campaigns among schoolchildren about the harmful effects of drug abuse and the continuing emphasis that those seeking public positions in Nigeria go through harmful drug-related tests are nothing but perfect examples of this affirmation / affirmation.
Comparatively, like Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, has the NDLEA developed a plan? National Director of Sustainable Drug Control (NDCMP) who views illicit drugs from the perspective of public health and education issues while providing a balanced solution to the drug scourge.
Generally speaking, there are actually more pragmatic reasons why the nation should partner with the Marwa-led administration to eradicate the proliferation of illicit drugs in the country.
The first is that many lives, according to the comments, have already been destroyed because of the drugs. Many are in psychiatric wards. Many have died. Many have lost their jobs and many have lost their homes.
To qualify development as a reality to be concerned about is that, according to the World Drug Report, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on June 26, 2019, said that about 35 million people suffer from drugs. use disorders and in need of treatment services.
With this revelation, it is evident that the consumption of drugs in quantities and by methods not authorized by medical professionals has now become the biggest killer of mankind. And characterize perfectly as correct President Buhari’s recent assertion / statement that the danger posed to the country by illicit drugs is worse than that of insurgency, banditry and other threats to the stability of the country.
“Let me say that this war is deadlier than the insurgency we have in the northeast of the country or the acts of banditry in the northwest or the acts of kidnapping that transcends all geopolitical areas of this country. country because it is a war which destroys three generations because I saw clips showing drugged grandparents, drugged parents and, by extension, their wards, their drugged children “.
This is not the only danger.
A 2018 survey report on drug use in Nigeria by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Center for Research and Information on Drug Addiction ( CRISA) with the technical support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and funded by the European Union (EU) under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) in “Response to drugs and organized crime in Nigeria, among other things; that the prevalence of any drug use in Nigeria over the past year is estimated at 14.4% or 14.3 million people aged 15-64 and high compared to the 2016 global annual prevalence of any 5.6% drug use among the adult population.
Similarly, the World Drug Report 2018 also found that psychoactive substances, excluding alcohol, were generally higher among men in Nigeria. use in the previous year was lowest in people under 24 years of age. Cannabis was the most commonly used drug, followed by opioids, primarily the non-medical use of prescription opioids and cough syrup.
This is by no means a good comment. However, the situation says something else.
It has also been revealed that living with an active drug addict – for example, a husband automatically turns the wife into a passive addict, whose detrimental effect resulting from such an arrangement appears in most cases to be more pronounced on the passive abuser. .
Far from the impact on physical dependence, the mountain of evidence suggests that the person using a drug over a period of time would have developed an intense dependence on the drug, often to avoid difficult withdrawal symptoms. The person will often have a desire (strong desire) to use the drugs despite the negative consequences on their physical, mental and social well-being.
Drug addicts may also experience psychological dependence in which they feel it is necessary to use a drug to function sometimes just in social gatherings or all the time.
This challenge of what the experts are saying is further fueled by the fact that we are not ready as a nation to address the underlying causes of drug addiction and other associated behaviors.
Our reluctance to collectively help abusers focus on unlearning such negative behaviors and instead develop the skills and positive attitudes required to achieve a drug-free society is currently being preached around the world, exacerbating the challenge.
Very unfortunately, in letting go of this responsibility, a fact that we do not remember is that the addiction is not based on personal weakness or a lack of morality on the part of the abuser but on a recurring chronic illness – a reality. which in my opinion qualifies these people for our love and not for libel or abandonment.
To better understand the plight of addicts, we need to start imagining what it would be like if these addicts were part of our families. We can imagine ourselves participating in the funerals of our deceased loved ones, not because of drug addiction.
Frankly, our inability to love and care for these addicts in our society makes us socially sicker than the abusers.
But then, Nigerians must pray and support Mohammed Buba Marwa’s quest to overcome the proliferation of illicit drugs in Nigeria.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Program Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Advocacy for Social and Economic Justice (SEJA), Lagos. He could be contacted via [email protected]/08032725374.