The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria Customs Service and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), have partnered to fight menace of narcotics and drug abuse among youths.
A statement by NAFDAC Resident Media Consultant, Mr Olusayo Akintola in Abuja on Sunday, stated that they all promised to collaborate to fight illicit drug production, trafficking and use, and to curb related organised crime.
The statement disclosed that the pledge was made on Thursday in Lagos at the launch and dissemination of the 2022 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and Precursors Report 2022.
The statement stated that NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, described narcotics and psychotropic substances as indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering.
She said that they were controlled within the framework of the three international conventions as they possessed abuse liability and produced dependence in users.
Adeyeye said that they were classified, not on chemical nature, but on the potential for abuse and the need for medical use of the substance.
She added that one of the control objectives was to ensure availability solely for medical and scientific uses while minimising the possibility of diversion to illicit channels and abuse.
According to her, the policy NAFDAC is to ensure availability, access and rational use as well as preventing illicit use and abuse.
“The international drug control conventions are thus interpreted to mean improved access to controlled medicines to enable countries to meet their drug needs.
She said that in order to ensure adequate availability of controlled medicines, the agency, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health, carried out two quantifications of narcotics and estimation of psychotropic substances and precursors in 2017 and 2019.
Adeyeye said that the results of these surveys provide the evidenced-based estimation of our national annual requirements of these substances and enable the country to develop measures to achieve that delicate balance between access and control.
‘’According to the 2018 National Drug Use Survey, the prevalence of any drug use was 14.4 per cent or 14.3 million people between the age of 15 and 64 years.
“This is comparatively high, compared with the 2016 global annual prevalence of 5.6 per cent among adult population.
“The challenges arising from drug supply and consumption are not restricted to people who use drugs but have wider health, social and economic consequences on the family, community, and country.
“The report revealed that Cannabis is the most commonly used drug, an estimated 10.8 per cent of the population or 10.6 million people had used cannabis in the past year with the average age of initiation of cannabis used among the general population put at 19 years.
‘’Cannabis use was seven times higher among men (18.8 per cent among men against 2.6 per cent of women). The gender gap in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids (such as tramadol) was less marked,” she stressed.
Adeyeye, however, said that Nigeria would not support the trend of legalisation of cannabis for non-medical use, as Nigeria lacked the financial capacity to fight cultivation, production and illegal use of the substance.
According to her, the non-medical use of Cannabis contravenes the United Nations Single Convention of 1961, which classifies cannabis as a highly addictive substance.
She disclosed that the Nigeria Indian Hemp Act as well as the NDLEA Act prohibited the cultivation, production, distribution, sales and use of cannabis and its extracts or derivatives for medical or non-medical purposes.
The D-G commended the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) for the assistance and support to the country in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking and use, and in curbing related organised crime.
She also appreciated INCB for the support to NAFDAC towards enhanced regulatory control of narcotics and psychotropic substances.
The statement reported Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, the Executive Chairman of NDLEA, as decrying the upsurge abuse of cannabis.
He decried an upsurge in abuse of cannabis amongst the Nigerian youths with its attendant negative effects on the society.
Marwa disclosed that the NDLEA, in a bid to address the problem, conceptualised the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) launched by President Mohammadu Buhari on June 26, 2021.
The statement said that Marwa was represented by one Mrs Victoria Ekase, and he noted that NAFDAC had been ensuring that controlled drug essential for human survival were provided for use where necessary in line with the requirements of INCB.
He said that NDLEA on its own part, collaborated with NAFDAC in ensuring that the measures put in place to prevent diversion of such medicines and substances to illicit use were adhered to.
According to him, NDLEA has arrested and prosecuted some traffickers of controlled and narcotics substances intended to be diverted to illicit uses.
He noted with dismay that It was quite worrisome that chemicals intended for research and industrial purposes were finding their ways into illicit drug manufacture.
‘’This is the area that NAFDAC and NDLEA need to deepen collaboration to ensure that such unwholesome acts are completely eliminated; the launch of the precursor report will go a long way to complement national efforts in this regard.
Marwa pledged that NAFDAC and NDLEA would continue to collaborate with major stakeholders at all levels to develop an efficient value-chain.
He said that they would continue to collaborate and support system that would ensure access to narcotics and controlled substances for medical and strategic purposes and preventing diversion for illicit use.
‘’I sincerely hope that the global launch of the report will enhance the integration and cooperation amongst stakeholders in ensuring effective implementation for the overall benefit of the society,” he said.
The statement also reported retired Col. Hameed Alli, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, while commending NAFDAC, as saying that NAFDAC and NDLEA had been most wonderful.
Alli, who was represented by Ag. Assistant Comptroller General, ACG, A.N. Dappa, pledged the loyalty and support of the customs service in the task of ridding the nation of illicit drug.
‘’We have always been in partnership, and we will continue to work in close partnership with you,’’ he said.