Drug Abuse: Tinubu Seeks End To Stigma, Discrimination

Posted by Timige, On 27 Jun, 2023 | Updated On 27 Jun, 2023 No Comments »

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has expressed concern about the barriers faced by drug users in accessing healthcare and social services, which further exacerbate their drug-related issues.

He made the call yesterday at an event to mark the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at the Presidential Villa.

The president who was represented by the secretary to the government of the federation, George Akume stressed the urgent need to remove social and structural stigmas that hinder access to support and services for people who use drugs.

Tinubu highlighted the significance of observing this day, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, to strengthen international cooperation and take action against drug abuse.

Under the theme “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention,” President Tinubu emphasized the importance of prioritizing the well-being and dignity of individuals affected by drug abuse.

He called for effective prevention and treatment interventions, particularly for vulnerable populations such as women, young people, and those living in marginalized environments.

He said, “We could not agree less with the importance of this theme now that the most vulnerable population, especially women, young people, people living in marginalized environments, high-risk drug users, people displaced by armed conflicts or natural disasters and people in rural settings, are exposed to stigma, discrimination and exclusion from mainstream opportunities.

“These groups often face barriers in accessing the health care and social services within the society in addressing their drug use problems.”

Tinubu urged for increased education and awareness about the dangers of drug abuse while emphasizing the importance of empowering youth with the necessary knowledge and skills to make informed decisions.

On his part, the chairman and chief executive officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brigadier General Buba Marwa (rtd), emphasised the need for collective action to address substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking.

Marwa highlighted the significance of this years’ theme, stating, “This theme underscores the need to place human beings at the centre of our efforts to address drug-related challenges and promote a more compassionate and inclusive approach.”

He stressed the importance of breaking down barriers that prevent individuals from seeking help and fostering an environment where they feel safe, respected, and encouraged to access necessary treatments and interventions.

The chairman emphasised the detrimental impact of stigma and discrimination faced by individuals affected by drug abuse, stating, “Our prejudices hinder their access to healthcare, employment, and social support systems.”

He said, “In the past 29 months, the NDLEA has apprehended 31,675 drug offenders, including 35 barons, resulting in 5,147 individuals receiving jail terms. Over 6,252 tons of illicit drugs have been seized during this period.”

 Marwa also highlighted the NDLEA’s efforts in prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

He mentioned the establishment of a Drug Abuse Call Centre with a 24/7 toll-free helpline manned by professionals who provide support to individuals and their families.

The agency has 34 counselling and rehabilitation centres across its commands, offering psychosocial interventions and reintegration programmes for drug users.

Additionally, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, the NDLEA is implementing harm reduction interventions and medication-assisted treatment for opioid users.

The chairman emphasised the need for collective effort in the fight against drugs, involving all segments of society, including parents, teachers, religious leaders, civil society organisations, and the media.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas stressed  the need for collaborative action to combat drug-related challenges and promote a drug-free world.

Abbas, who was represented by the deputy speaker, Hon Ben Kalu , called for sustained efforts beyond the event, urging the society to provide support and encouragement to those battling drug addiction.

Citing the global impact of drug abuse, the speaker referred to the 2022 World Drug Report, which revealed a significant increase in drug use worldwide. Particularly concerning was the higher prevalence of drug use among young people in Nigeria and many other countries.

The speaker emphasised the immense burden drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking pose to society, with criminal offences such as robbery and sexual abuse directly linked to drug abuse.

In a call to action, the speaker urged the NDLEA, the police, and other stakeholders to allocate more resources to sensitisation programmes aimed at raising awareness, particularly in schools and rural communities across the nation.

…NDLEA Rates Nasarawa Second In Drug Abuse Prevalence

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), said Nasarawa State is one of the leading states in drug abuse prevalence rate in the North Central geopolitical zone.

The Agency said the state is second only to Kwara which it noted, top the chart of the most drug abused states in the zone.

 The state commander of the Agency, Mr Peter Onche-Odaudu disclosed this at an event to commemorate the 2023 United Nations, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking yesterday in Lafia.

According to him, Nigeria has a “worrisome” drug prevalence rate of 14.4 per cent, adding that although the country constituted about 3 per cent of the world’s population, it is responsible for about 6 per cent of global cannabis sativa usage.

“At home here, Nasarawa State holds the unenviable position of having the second highest prevalence rate in the entire North-Central geo-political zone, only second to Kwara State,” he noted.

He said that the command seized 4, 257, 831 kilograms of illicit drugs across the 13 local government areas of the state from June, 2022 to June, 2023.

He said the seizures include, 4, 152.755 kg of cannabis sativa, 84.065kg of cough syrup with codeine, 0.698kg of methamphetamine, 0.017kg of cocaine.

The commander noted that 102 suspects including 18 females were arrested within the period under review.

He said the command secured a total of 53 convictions at the Federal High Court in the state with varying jail terms, even as he noted that more cases were at various stages of trial.

He further explained that 397 suspects, 18 of whom were females, were given brief counselling intervention, without necessarily taking them into custody, while nine were rehabilitated.

“The threat from the rampaging drug monster of drug abuse and illicit trafficking is real and unless all work assiduously, the future of the youths will be mortgaged.

“The war against drugs is everybody’s war and not that of NDLEA alone, I therefore, invite all and sundry to join us to reverse the negative testimony concerning the state,” he added.

Source: Leadership

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