This week the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) announced that 30% Nigerian youths consume illicit drugs and according to the drug enforcement agency, youth involvement in hard drugs is higher in Northern Nigeria.
The Gombe State NDLEA Commander, Mr Aliyu Adole stated that teenagers under 15 years are currently addicted to hard drugs in Northern Nigeria, noting that the teens inject the substance to the veins using syringes.
Adole said the substances embolden the teenagers to carry out all sorts of vices, including unprotected sex stressing that the command had arrested many children while in the act. He confirmed that some of the children are dotted with scary and unpleasant looks due to the adverse reactions of the drugs.
“We took some of the children to Gombe State Agency for the Control of AIDS and some of them tested positive to the virus. We have tried to counsel them; we have tried to let them know the repercussions of taking illicit substance, but they do not listen to us”
According to the NDLEA, the drugs consumed in Northern Nigeria are being supplied by drug cartels operating in the Southern parts of Nigeria.
“the cartel, dealers and rings that supply drugs to the youths and the same cartel sells from the South down to the North. The drugs they say, are mostly transported using heavy duty vehicles and stuffed in between goods adding that dealers distribute the drugs through minors”.
- The prevailing drugs in the North are marijuana, Indian hemp and prescription drugs
- In the south and west, the most prevalent drugs are prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
- In the East, cocaine, heroin, Indian hemp and prescription drugs are more dominant.
- Prescription drugs primarily abused in Nigeria are over the counter drugs such as cough syrup, Tramadol, analgesic, Diazepam, D5, Raphynol, among others.
In May 2016, the First Lady of Niger state lamented about the rise of drug use among women in IDP camps in North-East Nigeria. The agency has carried out a number of drug raids in many Northern states including Borno, Kwara, Plateau and even the 18 hours of trekking through the forest in Taraba state that finally revealed hectares of Cannabis farmlands.
Unfortunately, the NDLEA stating that the drugs are supplied from the South to the North may be a diversion of responsibility tactic. Many of the drugs consumed in Northern Nigeria are grown in the region.
Increase in drug use stems from an increase in supply which stems from poor drug law enforcement and prevention strategies. There are no established rehabilitation programs for these women or teens consuming drugs in the region.
So far, the only strategy employed to tackle the menace is to “plead with parents to monitor the behavior of their children”. But this strategy does not take into account those teens who are orphans or those parents who spend majority of their time away from their children at jobs, or those parents who are also addicted to drugs.
Boko Haram insurgent camps cleared by Nigerian military troops revealed that the terrorists were consuming drugs which emboldened them to carry out attacks. Lagos State government statistics published 2014 showed that 50 percent of Lagos bus drivers were at the moment, found to be driving under the influence of cocaine, marijuana and other prescription drugs; Traffic accidents happen to be the main cause of violent death in Nigeria today.
Increase in drug consumption in Nigeria is a national security threat. Unfortunately the government is yet to understand that!