In a chilly documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) titled “Sweet, Sweet Codeine”, undercover investigative journalist, Ruona Meyer, and Kayode Soyinka, editor of the BBC Pidgin, went to Kwara, Kano and Lagos states where they unraveled mind-boggling drug problems in the country.
In order to bring the debilitating effects to the fore, they interacted with the victims and those making profit out of their misfortune. The investigation revealed how several people, particularly the youth, take to drug due to growing unemployment which unfortunately land them in some debilitating situation that requires urgent remedy.
The investigation further revealed that some corrupt public officials and agents of some pharmaceutical companies conspire with drugs distributors to violate the standard drugs procedure by making the prescriptive drugs available over the counter even in the open market.
According to a report by the Federal Ministry of Health on the issue, over three million bottles of codeine are consumed every day in the Northern parts of the country alone! It was further discovered that apart from codeine containing drugs like cough syrups, Tramadol, those who take to drug abuse equally sniff pit toilet. They also sniff solution mixture commonly used by vulcanisers to mend punctured rubber tubes. They equally consume local gins like ‘kai-kai, pito, burukut’, or even smoke Indian hemp, sniff cocaine and excessively smoke cigarettes.
Investigation have further showed that lack of proper education, poor education, miss-education, poverty and neglect by both family and government, are equally major catalysts which push the youth towards taking to such abuses. Several of the victims of drugs abuse are mainly street children who cannot give account of their family lineage or even remember what their family name had been and where actually they were born. It was discovered that only a few of these drug abuse victims were traced to families, but it is unfortunate that these are even families considered affluent by the standard of the ordinary Nigerian.
The BBC revelation, even though it took so many people by surprise, is not new. It has always been known that several people, particularly in the North, take to all forms of drugs. It had been discovered by this medium that motor parks and slum settlements are where these illicit businesses thrive.
While the Federal Ministry of Health seemed to have taken some measures to get to the root of the matter by sanctioning the staff of the pharmaceutical agencies found to be culpable. It goes beyond that. Government should take drastic measures to educate the Nigerian child. As it is now, the typical Nigerian child is in a conundrum. He is not catered for by the government. Worse still, the biting economic reality is not giving them opportunity to receive commensurate succor and care from their family.
Worse is that law enforcement agencies, whose primary responsibility is to maintain law and order have become so lax in their responsibility that they look the other way, while things go wrong. Even the police catch-phrase ‘see something; say something’ means nothing because when a report is made, they either say the person is profiling suspected criminals or they turn around and arrest the complainant. Apart from the police, other law enforcement agencies are not faring any better. They turn blind eye to debilitating situations, which is not encouraging at all. And this is why when people see someone engaged in criminal activity, it is difficult to know what to do and so, such problems not only fester but get worse.
It is also unfortunate that operatives of National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) now perform their primary duty along the highways like the Police, Customs, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and even the Military. These agencies compete among themselves on the roads rather than improve their intelligence gathering capability. Worse is that corruption have eaten deep into their fabric with resultant consequences. Their operating along major highway is not out of commitment, but to gain pecuniary interests.
It is advised that with the exposure, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development as well as Women Affairs, should take design lasting programmes that would not only ensure the Nigerian child is properly educated, but that they are encouraged and assisted to gain employment or set up business concerns of their own. They should do this by setting up genuine parameters for measurement and evaluation.
Proper monitoring of youth activities is the only way to rescue the country from the devastating effects of serial drug abuse. Killings, kidnappings, armed robbery, gang raping and other nefarious acts are heightened by drug peddling. Not doing something concrete to arrest these ugly scenario could lead to catastrophic consequences and Nigeria cannot afford to bear such problems now.