The menace of drug abuse and trafficking in illicit drugs is a global phenomenon that nation states are battling to overcome through appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks as well as advocacy and mass mobilization campaign that suit the peculiarities of individual nations. While some countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia and China prescribe capital punishment for offenders, others apply stiffer jail terms to serve as deterrent to would-be offenders.

It is instructive to note that trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs have become so widespread in Nigeria especially in the North where statistics recently given by the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II indicate that about 3 million bottles of Codeine are daily consumed in Kano city alone. Nearly people of all ages and gender belonging to different socio-economic classes indulge in the consumption of drugs. Some of the vulnerable groups include out-of-school and unemployed youths, women including married women and divorcees, politicians, thugs, cultists etc.

The  menace of pervasive abuse of illicit drugs by the youths especially girls and married women has become one issue bedevilling communities in the Funtua Senatorial Zone of Katsina State where seizures of large quantities of drugs were made recently by operatives of the national Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Funtua town.

It was in response to this unhealthy development that Hadiza Aminu Masari, wife of the Executive Governor of Katsina State and Founder/President Centre for the Advancement of Mothers and Children (CEAMOC) recently organized an advocacy and mass mobilization campaign against drug abuse as part of her contribution to the eradication of the menace which has become rampant in the Funtua Senatorial Zone. The campaign is envisaged to adequately sensitize the general public through strategic communication which in addition to using the mass media and the social media would also involve reaching out to critical stakeholders and influencers in the zone.

These include members of the clergy(Imams, Pastors, Preachers and Religious Leaders); Community leaders (Emirs, District Heads, Ward Heads); Civil Society; NGOs; Professional bodies (National Union of Teachers, Health Workers, Nigeria Bar Association, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Nigeria Medical Association, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria); Political Parties; Youths and Women Groups, Security and Intelligence Community etc.

In her presentation during the kick-start of the campaign, Mrs. Hadiza Masari cautioned that the menace of drug abuse if not effectively and timely checked will spell doom for the society as young girls who are future mothers and building blocks of the society are becoming more vulnerable by the day. The youths who constitute future generations of leaders would have their potential imperilled by drug abuse.

She also outlined the socio-economic implications of drug abuse which amongst others include marriage break-up, high crime rate, low productivity, increased mental problems and erosion of societal values. “In fact, the proliferation of hi-tech crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, banditry and insurgency which have become rampant in the entire Northern region and the country at large could all be linked to pervasive drug abuse by the culprits.  The high prevalence of domestic violence which often lead couples into killing their spouses or children killing their parents or siblings is all symptomatic of the pervasive effect of drug abuse”.

Speakers at the workshop with the theme “Community Sensitization Campaign Against Drug Abuse ” which include Sheikh Aminu Daurawa,  Director General Kano State Hisbah, Bashir Ruwan Godiya, Special Adviser to the Katsina State Governor on Higher Education and the State Commandant of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA), Maryam Sani who was represented by Mr. Mustapha Maikudi unanimously agreed on the need for concerted efforts to combat the monster of drug abuse which spares no one in the society.

In his contribution, Sheikh Aminu Daurawa prescribed a four-step approach towards combating the menace. According to him, the steps some of which have already been adopted by the Kano state Government include Counselling; Rehabilitation; Empowerment and the incorporation of terrorism and drug abuse in the national curricular of education. On his part, Ruwan Godiya, urged politicians to desist from encouraging thuggery by the youths during electioneering campaigns and advised them to explore other avenues of engaging the youths in productive endeavours since drug abuse does not recognize ethnic, religious, regional or geographical boundaries.

In her presentation, read by Maikudi, the State Commandant of NDLEA disclosed that the Agency faces herculean task in prosecuting offenders as there is only one Federal High Court in the state which could not expeditiously handle scores of cases brought before it just as she laments the Agency’s inability to continue to hold suspects in their cells with little facilities and poorly equipped rehabilitation centres. The Commandant also decries the absence of narcotics testing laboratories where they always have to refer exhibits to Lagos for testing which causes unnecessary delays.

Earlier in his remarks, the State Acting Chief Judge, Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar observed with dismay that most of the criminal cases before various courts in the state are drug-induced. Justice Danladi called on stakeholders particularly parents, traditional rulers, religious leaders and youths leaders to be eternally vigilant.

One interesting thing that happened at the event was the coming forward of drug addicts in their hundreds who openly renounced the old habit and pledged to make themselves available for rehabilitation and empowerment to ween them off the bad habit. Sheikh Aminu Daurawa whose sermon touched the hearts and won the souls of the drug addicts urged the Katsina State Government to adopt the Kano Model which proved successful. According to the scholar, the model introduced by Kano State government entails the identification of drug addicts and the documentation of those willing to quit the habit with volunteers taken to a rehabilitation centre where they undergo medical rehabilitation and counselling before being reintegrated into the society through capacity building and empowerment appropriate to their skills.

Abdullahi, Sabon Layi, Katsina, Katsina State