The Nigerian Senate has asked the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on drug and narcotics abuse in the country.
The Senate said that the situation had reached an alarming level and required urgent attention.
The lawmakers also called on relevant government agencies, particularly the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), to work with stakeholders to convene a national conference to address the state of narcotics abuse in the country and chart a path forward.
The motion was sponsored by Hussaini Uba, a senator representing Jigawa North West. He said that Nigeria was grappling with a rising incidence of drug abuse, which has transformed the country from a mere transit route in the 1990s to a nation filled with consumers and traffickers.
He also cited statistics indicating that between 30 and 35 million Nigerians spend approximately $15,000 and $30,000 annually on psychotropic drugs and alcoholic beverages, respectively. Additionally, about 14.3 million Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 64 are drug abusers.
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Uba expressed concern that despite interventions by federal, state, international and regional bodies through laws, policies, and technical support, abuse of drugs in Nigeria has continued to increase. The main drugs abused in Nigeria are mood-altering or psychoactive drugs, performance-enhancing drugs, dependency drugs, as well as prescription drugs, whose side effects include addiction, trauma, mental illness, violence, and involvement in criminal activities.
The lawmaker prayed the senate to adopt measures to address the issue of drug abuse, including the review of the Nigeria’s curriculum for basic and secondary education to include special drug education as a compulsory subject, the inclusion of special drug education as a compulsory course in the general studies programme, and the establishment of drug rehabilitation centres, among others.
Henry Dickson, a senator from Bayelsa, who amended the motion, said that the abuse of narcotics was a national time bomb that has already exploded, hence the need for the declaration of a state of emergency which President Bola Tinubu should lead.
In his contribution to the debate, Mohammed Monguno, representing Borno North, said the menace of substance abuse has reached a threatening level.
“There is an avalanche of the menace of drug abuse. No country can afford to relegate the future of the young ones to the background. Our future lies in the youth. Drug abuse affects the productivity of the youth, it also affects economic growth”, he said.
Godswill Akpabio, the Senate president, described the prevalence of drug abuse as a serious problem and assured that the Senate will look into the issue.