BRIG-Gen Buba Marwa, Chairman National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has warned that Nigeria cannot afford to ignore drug abuse among youths in the country.
Marwa, who is the guest speaker at the 10th Anniversary Lecture and Investiture of Realnews on Thursday in Lagos, noted that drug abuse “cannot be ignored in today’s world because it is a growing concern for all countries and a problem area for humanity”.
He disclosed that the past two decades “have seen a dramatic rise in drug abuse around the world and more than ever before, the situation is becoming complicated and dire”.
“In Africa, where countries are struggling with development issues, it is recognised that the prevalence of drug use among youths will impact the future of the continent, for better or for worse, depending on how we respond to the trend.
“Therefore, countries must attend to the problem. Just as we devote energy, time and resources to climate change to save the planet, we must also deploy the same strength, sentiment and systems to curb drug abuse among youths to secure the future of coming generations,” he said.
Marwa added that Nigeria, in particular, cannot afford to trivialize the drug abuse menace in light of the country’s illicit drug statistics and “this is why every opportunity for public discourse on this subject matter is highly appreciated because keeping drug issues on the front burner in society is one way of catalysing solutions to the scourge.”
To start with, Nigerians are not ignorant about drug trafficking and drug abuse issues. The activities of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, in the past 22 months have given our society a clear picture, certainty and the severity of the drug problem in the country.
Marwa disclosed that the agency has made 19, 341 drug offenders and secured 3, 111 convictions and seized 5.5 million kilograms of assorted drugs in 22 months.
According to him, these are incontrovertible facts of a deeply entrenched illicit drug subculture in the country.
“Previously, many Nigerians found it hard to believe that illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin are trafficked in and out of the country. But NDLEA has made huge seizures and there is no basis for scepticism anymore. If anything, NDLEA activities since January 2021 have further reinforced the facts of Nigeria being an important hub in the global illicit drug network, and secondly, that our country is not only a transit pipeline but also a market.
“Similarly, Nigerians cannot pretend now not to know that our young people are abusing illicit drugs because youths have an overt drug lifestyle. Youths of today promote the drug subculture. It is common nowadays to hear them say they want to be high. It is there on the street. In songs. In chatroom. In clubs and parties. Many crave alcohol and weed as soon as they run into any emotional situation. To put it in their language, as glorified by one popular music, they tell you “I need igbo and shayo.
“It is disturbing that abusing marijuana and alcohol is the new normal for youths, especially the Gen Z and even the Millenials. For parents who are adept at using social media, Snapchat offers graphic details of what our young people are doing with alcohol and psychotropic drugs,” he added.