First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, has called on Nigerian lawmakers to decriminalise drug use and enact stricter sanctions on drug dealers in the country.
Mrs Buhari made the call at the third annual general meeting/conference of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP), Nigerian chapter, held in Abuja yesterday.
She said drug abuse is a public health problem and not necessarily a criminal justice problem, adding that decriminalising drug use, while implementing strict laws on drug trafficking is the way to go.
Represented by a former First Lady of Nasarawa State, Hajiya Mairo Al-Makura, the First Lady noted that such a measure would go a long way to increase access to treatment for many drug users who are in need of medical attention.
“Let me also use this opportunity to call on our lawmakers to also recognise that decriminalising drug use while enacting stricter sanctions on drug dealers will go a long way to increase access to treatment for many drug users who need medical attention,” she said.
She called for the creation of an environment that discourages people from seeing drug abuse as an alternative or as a solution and the provision of quality and affordable free education at an early age, to at least secondary school level, for every child.
Earlier in a speech, chairman/chief executive officer of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Gen Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd), had noted that substance use around the world, including Nigeria, is on the increase.
Represented by the director, drug demand reduction, NDLEA-FCT, Dr Ngozi Madubuike, Marwa said drug use is one of the factors responsible for the increase in crime and criminality all over the world.
In a welcome address, national president of ISSUP, Nigerian chapter, Martin Agwogie, explained that the society’s vision was aimed at addressing the threat of substance abuse in Nigeria.
Agwogie called on Nigerians to support the vision of the society and to join stakeholders to find contextualised, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to the menace of substance abuse and related problems in Nigeria.