Buba Marwa, former military governor of Lagos state, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare an emergency on drug abuse in the country.
In an interview on NTA monitored by TheCable, Marwa, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse, said Nigeria has got to the point where the war against drug abuse must be taken seriously.
The retired brigadier general said the seaports are the most flourishing routes for drug smuggling, but he commended the Nigerian customs for seizing some containers of illegal drugs.
Marwa said though drug abuse cannot be totally eliminated, it can be tackled.
“We have given our recommendation which we believe if implemented, this problem will be solved. The key thing is the will of the president, which he has,” he said.
“In the course of our trips across the country to engage with the state and local communities, two areas stand out at this time. In Kano, I had to engage with drug addicts from the most drug-ridden local government area. And there we were addressing about 500 drug addicts in the room and that was quite a scary and noisy session.
“It has to start with the declaration of emergency on drug abuse. It has got to that point. Over the years, things have continued to get worse which led to the establishment of the committee to face and tackle this problem.”
He said 10.6 million Nigerians smoke cannabis, and that the rate of drug abuse in Nigeria is thrice the global figure.
“There are scientific methodologies now, so there are no guesswork in this business. It was found that whereas the global prevalence was 5.6%, in the case of Nigeria, within the ages of 15 and 64 the prevalence was almost triple at 14.4%, which actually translates to 14.3 million Nigerians. We also found that 1 in 4 drug abusers in Nigeria is a woman,” he said.
“More than that, the impression was that drug abuse was worse in the north but evidence suggested a contrary. Actually, the prevalence is higher in the south and I think there are reasons for that. Nationally, 10.6 million Nigerians smoke cannabis, since it is grown in the south, I will think that would be the reason why the prevalence is higher.”
Marwa said his team recommended “crop substitution” where illegal drugs grown on a farm will be cleared and replaced with legal crops.
He said the team also recommended the creation of counselling centres in local government areas as well as the establishment of rehabilitation centres in each senatorial zone.
The former military governor added that the family plays a crucial role in solving the problem of drug abuse, saying “there is a need for more care, love, guidance and counselling”.
Buhari set up the committee on December 11, 2018. And the committee submitted its report to the president in October 2019.