Nigeria is winning the war, and the days of the scourge of drug abuse and dependency in the country are numbered, says Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
He stated this Monday in Abuja on the occasion of the 2022 United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking themed “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises.”
The Vice-President’s optimism is premised on the renewed vigour of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the commitment of the Federal Government and the support of development partners.
“We are winning this war. The days of the scourge of drug abuse and dependency are clearly numbered, but it will involve even greater investment in focus and determination for the long haul,” according to the Vice President.
He continued: “the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) especially in the last two years under the dynamic leadership of General Buba Marwa, the NDLEA Chairman, has been fiercer and sharper in its determination to stamp out drug abuse and trafficking in the country. His vision and strong resolve have given the war against drug trafficking and abuse new energy, purpose and clearer direction.
“I am glad to hear that in 2021, about 8,000 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated by the NDLEA, and in the first half of this year alone, over 11,000 drug users have been counselled and treated. We must maintain a multi-dimensional and holistic approach to tackling drug abuse.”
Speaking on the approach that ensures the realization of the objective, Prof. Osinbajo said “the new normal offers us opportunities for increased innovation in tackling this menace, through technology-based monitoring systems for promptly detecting and addressing drug market changes; and also accelerating mobile outreach programmes, remote consultation, and treatment for those who suffer from drug use disorders and are without the appropriate care.
The VP noted that “as much as the Federal Government through its agencies and the state governments would lead the charge with decisive policy initiatives, these strides must be complemented by changes at the family and community level. The kind of change we seek regarding drug abuse cannot happen without the collaboration of families, faith-based organizations and community leadership at the local levels.”
Osinbajo then noted that a society free of drug criminals is achievable by “relentlessly breaking illicit drug supply chains and distribution networks; discouraging drug use through intensive outreach and sensitization; and also promptly prosecuting traffickers.”
He added that “we must intensify rehabilitation of drug addicts, because what we are faced with is indeed a public health crisis — a crisis that is taking lives, destroying families and shattering communities.”
Saying communities everywhere must rise to this challenge, the VP emphasized that “we must spearhead massive value reorientation across the country, reassessing cultural factors and systems that support drug abuse and trafficking.”
Earlier in his remarks, the NDLEA Chairman, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd) said the agency has over the past few years focused on the treatment approach of the drug war.
He said the NDLEA has set up a helpline and a website will soon be unveiled to scale up the drug war in the country.
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, 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.