By Afolabi Aribigbola
One of the greatest challenges facing youths globally is the escalating substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking and consumption. It is a universal phenomenon affecting all societies in all parts of the world including our dear country Nigeria. In most societies particularly in the less developed ones there is increasing proliferation and widespread use of banned, illicit substances that affect public safety and health of people adversely. In such societies there seem to be apathy, inability and outright unwillingness to combat the menace of drug abuse among their youths thereby putting their lives and health in jeopardy. This is against the background of the dictum that youths are the future of a nation.
It is on the above premise that the renewed war against drug abuse, illicit drug trafficking and consumption in Nigeria by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) was a welcome development as the right path to trend to exterminate the cankerworm of drug abuse and illicit drug traffic that gave Nigeria, a bad name in the comity of nations in the past. The renewed efforts to stop the widespread use of banned substances in the country motivated the drug law enforcement agency to seek a clampdown beginning from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of the country. The renewed war on banned substances, though a tacit acceptance of past failure in curtailing the spread of dangerous drugs is commendable but should be made to achieve the desire result of exterminating drug abuse in the country
NDLEA is the federal agency created with the purpose of keeping Nigeria safe from the dangers of illicit substances and their purveyors in the country. Prior to the establishment of the agency in 1989, the country was noted as a notorious transit route for illicit drug trafficking. The seriousness attached to the efforts of NDLEA to arrest the growing drug abuse in the country was supported by the present government when the Vice President, Kashim Shetima, while declaring open the 31st meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Africa asserted that the present government is committed to the fight against abuse and trafficking of illicit substances. And consequently pledged the continued support of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the agency in discharging the onerous duty of ridding the country of the destructive business .
The drug war in Nigeria like every other society has been a long one but often with little success. I said little success because despite the ban and various efforts to curtail the growing use of these substances, more people are getting hooked. It is a sad commentary that the use of illicit substances are escalating in all parts of the country as new people especially the youths are getting involved with impunity.
Unfortunately, this evil habit have destroyed the destiny of many brilliant promising youths in the past. Yet this dangerous trade continue to be in the upsurge among the youths especially those in the tertiary institutions of learning and others as they are engaged as touts, garage boys. It is saddening that conservatively, over 70 percent of the youth population of Nigeria are involved in the destructive activity.
Of course no section of the country is exempted from the malady and no religion is also exempted, except that they are more in certain areas than others. It is a pandemic that must be attacked with all seriousness required. One of the evils associated with the use of these banned substances is that those who indulge in taking the drugs find it extremely difficult to leave it. Most of the students that indulge in drug abuse don’t come for lectures, and when they attend lectures they don’t concentrate. Often they are not bothered about their future and that is why many of them fail or drop out of school.
Also, drug abuse is posing threat to public peace and safety. The menace has increased the number of insane persons on the streets in recent times. It should be emphasized that most people that are involved in heinous crimes are always under the influence of drugs. This makes it absolutely expedient for a renewed efforts of NDLEA to make the desire impact of exterminating this.
Many have alluded the increasing drug abuse in Nigeria to the failure or inability of NDLEA and other security agencies to effectively police and control the distribution and consumption of substances. And the fact that parents do not show sufficient interest and create time to monitor their children and wards is another factor. Many students don’t attend lectures and some don’t write examination for years because of the consequences of drug and yet their parents are unaware. Therefore, if the agency wish to win the war to safeguard public safety in the country, it must put in more efforts into the renewed drug war. It is a serious one that must be faced headlong with the support of other agencies and the entire society.
Parents must show more interest in the activities of their children in school and out of school. Otherwise these children will get involved in the destructive act. The government must strengthen and support the agency in this delicate and difficult assignment. Anything short of controlling the cankerworm will signal a bleak future for the country. The renewed war must not fail and for it not to fail, all Nigerians must be involved to secure the future of our youths and our country by supporting the organisation.