The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it will introduce drug integrity test initiative, expected to metamorphose into an anti-drug culture for every Nigerian.
Gen. Mohammed Marwa (retired), the NDLEA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, disclosed this at the second annual conference organised by the Drug-Free Arewa Movement (DFAM) on Thursday in Abuja
The event, themed “Youth and the Region’s Big Issue; Drug Abuse”, was organised by DFAM, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO).
According to Marwa, the NDLEA will strike a balance between drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction interventions.
He said that was why the agency planned to initiate evidence based prevention activities to include sensitisation, treatment and care of drug dependent persons.
“We are launching an intensive sensitisation programme targeting youths in and out of school and the workplaces.
“The agency plans to introduce the Drug Integrity Test initiative anticipated to metamorphose into an anti-drug,” he said.
The NDLEA boss noted a strong correlation between substance use and criminal behaviours such as insurgency, banditry, rape, kidnapping, human trafficking, terrorism and all forms of insecurity in the country.
He expressed concern over the prevalence of drug use amongst women, adding that one in every four drug users in the country is a woman.
“Women involvement in substance abuse has more implications than men, especially when the critical role of women in child nurturing and upbringing is considered,” he said.
Marwa commended the NGO for stemming the tide of substance use among youths through the various anti-drug activities.
He called on other stakeholders to also complement government efforts in ridding the society of the scourge.
Oliver Stolpe, Country Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), reiterated the commitment of the international communities in supporting Nigeria to eliminate drug abuse.
Stolpe stressed the need for more investment in the health sector, adoption of evidence-based prevention ways, expand community based drug centre and improve regulated access to drug prescription use as some strategies to curb drug abuse.
Also, Dr Amina Bello, Wife of Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger, and Chairperson, Northern Governor’s Wives Forum, stressed the need to focus more on prevention and proliferation of drug abuse, particularly in the northern region.
She said the wives of the northern governors were committed to ending drug abuse, adding that rehabilitation centres are being upgraded and established in all the northern states to curb the menace in the region.
Mr Ibrahim Yusuf, Lead Convener, DFAM and Executive Director, Triumphant Youth Foundation, said the organisation had so far set up over 380 anti-drug clubs in schools across the 19 northern states.
Yusuf said it had also partnered with other stakeholders to distribute over 200,000 booklets to youths on the adverse effects of drug abuse and preventive measures.
He added that the organisation had recently rehabilitated seven street youths, re-united them with their families and sponsored them to universities to study medicine, nursing, law and accounting.
While unveiling the DFAM Treatment Centre project, Mr Abba Kawu, Team Leader, Innovation and Project Coordinator, said the centre would collaborate with NDLEA and others to rehabilitate, counsel and train drug addicts on various skills.
Kawu, therefore, appealed for more support from all stakeholders to achieve the objective and reduce prevalence of drug abuse in the country.