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By Ifeanyi Nwoko
In keeping to its resolution to fight the abuse of drugs and other substances by Nigerian youth, the Senate is to hold a roundtable to discuss ways to fight the menace.
The Senate’s roundtable will hold on Monday and Tuesday in Kano state and will have in attendance state governments, local governments, traditional rulers, the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria and NGOs.
The round table is part of efforts to tackle the rising spate of drug and substance abuse by youths including girls and to end its prevalence in the northern part of the country.
According to the National Drug Law enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Kano state has the highest number of youths engaged in drugs and substance abuse followed by Jigawa state.
In recognition of the destructive effect of the high spate of drug abuse in Kano state, President Muhammadu Buhari while on a working visit to teh state recently, ordered a crackdown on drug barons in the country.
The senate while taking a resolution against drug abuse in October, raised the alarm that about 3 million bottles of an addictive cough syrup with “codeine” was being consumed in the North
Consequently, the Senate mandated it’s Joint Committee on Drugs and Narcotics and Health to investigate the growing menace of abuse of cough syrup and other prescriptive drugs.
In view of the mandate, the Senate brings together stakeholders to the roundtable to discuss the drivers of drug abuse in Nigeria, identify the psycho-social and medical impact of the phenomenon, assess current responses, legislative gaps and opportunities for action.
The expected outcomes of the Roundtable include: gaining a better understanding of drug use, prevalence, trends and patterns in Nigeria; understanding the current government and Civil Society capacity and efforts towards addressing drug abuse and related issues; gain insight into legislative, policy gaps and develop an Action Plan for interventions by the National Assembly and other stakeholders.
Earlier this year, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, expressed his concern about the widespread abuse of drugs by youths in the country and vowed to tackle the menace through legislation.
In a series of tweets in September on his Twitter handle @bukolasaraki, Saraki said: “I am particularly worried about the drug menace in the country. It is time that we recognize this problem and address it in a sensible manner.
“I will be pushing for the National Assembly to review all relevant laws on drug abuse. This will help to curb the widespread misuse of illegal and unsanitary substances. The Senate will engage with all relevant stakeholders as we initiate this process,” the President of the Senate said.
Until recently, the Government of Nigeria has pursued a law enforcement approach in response to the challenge of drug trafficking, production and use.
Nigeria has ratified all United Nation’s drug and crime conventions and is supporting and participating in all major international and regional anti-drug initiatives, strategies and programmes.
The country has also enacted comprehensive anti-drug legislation and established several specialised national agencies to enhance the effectiveness and coordination of drug control policies.
The Roundtable will allow the Senate to effectively analyze Nigeria’s response to the menace and come up with appropriate strategies on the way forward.