June 26th of every year is marked as the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking. In what way did the Kaduna State Bureau for Substance Abuse, Prevention and Treatment (KADBUSA) leverage the occasion to raise the awareness on drug abuse?
Like you rightly said, the 26th of June every year is being marked by the UN as a day against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. KADBUSA addressed a world press conference and interfaced with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on this year’s activities. And very importantly, on that day, KADBUSA also represented His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, where the War Against Drug Abuse was launched by the president, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha. The launching of the War Against Drug Abuse is a welcome development because it has taken the campaign to the next level. The launch has put the problem on national stage that drugs it’s harming individuals, it’s harming families, it is harming communities. And the issue must be tackled head on both on the supply and demand side.
We have found out that ignorance is a major driver for the demand of illicit drugs and that is why KADBUSA is increasing the awareness and sensitization against drug abuse in communities. KADBUSA was at the three senatorial districts for this campaign. We went to the Emir of Zazzau, Ambassador Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli’s palace, where we met with his District Heads and Mai Unguwas and the issue of illicit drugs was discussed very extensively. And engagement in the communities also took place. KADBUSA was also in zone 2, where we engaged with the Etsu Chukun and other traditional and religious leaders. At the palace, we discussed how drug abuse can be curbed and we also engaged members of the Unguwan Romi community. KADBUSA was also at the Agwatyp’s palace in Zangon Kataf local government in zone 3, where similar discussions and engagements took place. We were with His Royal Highness, Chief Dominic Yahaya Gambo who told us what the Chiefdom has been doing since 2017. According to him, he gave suspected dealers of these drugs marching orders to either stop selling these drugs or leave the Chiefdom and that has yielded very positive results.
So, KADBUSA is raising awareness on the fight against drug abuse, especially on the demand side, not forgetting that KADBUSA is the first government agency, established by Law 9 of 2016, to fight drug abuse on the demand side. The NDLEA, the police and Civil Defence are fight drug abuse on the supply side and we are synergizing to reduce the number of drugs cases in Kaduna state and the country.
This year’s theme of the International Day Against Drug Abuse is ‘’Share Facts on Drugs. Save Lives’’. To what extent have you gathered information on drug abuse in Kaduna state and what is the prevalence rate?
KADBUSA conducted a state-wide survey last year and it is the first state to do so. And the survey revealed that 10.9% of residents of Kaduna state have drug abuse problem. And KADBUSA is coming out with interventions to address prevalence of drug abuse in the various parts of the state so that we can reduce it because we know of the connection between drug abuse and insecurity, whether it is banditry, kidnapping or cattle rustling. All these have direct connection with drug abuse.
Your job seems to center around advocacy. Don’t you prosecutorial powers to deal with drug abuse even on the demand side?
KADBUSA is working majorly on the demand side of the drug abuse problem because it is the belief of Kaduna State Government that reducing demand will ultimately dry up supply. Because if the drug peddlers don’t have people who buy their illicit wares, they will ultimately pack and leave Kaduna state. So, KADBUSA found out that with the disruption of supply only, without tackling the demand side, black market will thrive. And if there are people who are demanding for these drugs, it will be available to them one way or the other. That is why we are working in reducing the demand of drugs in Kaduna state. Yes, KADBUSA does not have prosecutorial powers but we work together the NDLEA which has these powers.
But again, Kaduna State Government will seek for a fiat from the Attorney General of the Federation, so that we can be able to prosecute drug offenders to address this problem head on.
You have spoken extensively about the prevention of drug abuse, what are you doing about the treatment of drug addicts since it falls within your mandate?
Yes, for KADBUSA, since 2016, the low hanging fruits is on prevention because prevention is always cheaper and better than cure. The issue of treatment is a medium term to long term intervention. But Kaduna State Government is financing the construction of four Rehabilitation Centres across the state. Additional two have been approved. The initial four are about 90% completed. Once we are through, we can start giving world class treatment in these Rehab Centres.
But instead of waiting for this medium to long term interventions, we have started doing something to solve the problem in the interim. So, we have established the KADBUSA Support Clinic within the premises of our office, beside the House of Assembly, so that an Out-Patient care for drug abuse patients can be undertaken. So, counselling can be done on an Out-Patient basis. When the Rehab Centres are completed, we can undertake In-Patient treatment.
Do you have a working relationship with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital which is located here in Kaduna?
Yes, we are working with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital. We are not working with them alone, we are also working with Kaduna state Ministry of Human Services and Social Development. We are also working with Ministry of Business Innovation and Technology because drug treatment is a whole cocktail, where you have to render bio-psycho-social treatment. Biological treatment in terms of the medication that you give them, psychological treatment in terms of psycho-therapy and social treatment in terms of skills acquisition and starter-packs. So, we cannot work alone. KADBUSA works with other governmental and non-governmental bodies to be able to render services to these individuals.
The wife of the Executive Governor, Barrister Asia Ahmad El-Rufai has an NGO that is also fighting against drug abuse. Is KADBUSA collaborating with her in any way?
Yes, Her Excellency, Hajiya Asia El-Rufai has been a very strong pillar to KADBUSA. Her passion in the fight against drug abuse is well known at both state and national levels. We have been working together and she gives us all kinds of support. Earlier this year, she received an award for her fight against drug abuse and she has linked us with Oliver Stolpe who is the Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes in Nigeria. So, we are partnering with them to win the war against drug abuse in Kaduna state.
Have you explored the possibility of funding from international agencies, instead of relying solely on budgetary allocation?
At the moment, we are trying to link up with Development Partners to help fund our activities. Kaduna State Government is doing its best to support us but we think that the fight against drug abuse requires enormous funding which should not be limited by lack of funds. We should only be limited by activity, projects and programmes in the fight against drug abuse but not lack of funds. We are up against very organized drug barons who have so much resources. So, the fight against drug abuse cannot be limited, should not be limited by the unavailability of funds. So, I am calling on every individual that can support the fight against drug abuse, to come up with ideas so that we can work together, so that normalcy can be restored, security of lives and property can be guaranteed, so that businesses can thrive.
We are also calling on the Organised Private Sector to understand that if drug prevalence reduces, they can do their business in a more secure and productive environment, which will translate into more profit for them. The fight against drug abuse shouldn’t be limited by funds. The kind of funding that was available in the fight against HIV/AIDS and Covid-19, should be the kind of resources that should be used to prosecute the fight against drug abuse. Drug abuse is closer to all of us than we think and that is why all hands must be on deck to fight it.
Have you taken this campaign against drug abuse to secondary school level in a bid to nip the problem in the bud?
Remember, one of the mandates of KADBUSA is prevention and prevention is better than cure and that is why we are collaborating very closely with the Ministry of Education. We are doing so in order to target people from the very young age, to sensitize them about the menace of drug abuse. Like I said, ignorance is a driver of drug abuse; once you give people the right information, they can take the right decision. We are working with not just the ministry but the schools themselves, from the primary to secondary, up to tertiary level, so that individuals can have the right information.
-Last week, Nigeria marked the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, on June 26 and this year’s theme was ‘’Share Facts on Drugs. Save Lives’’;
-Kaduna State Bureau for Substance Abuse, Prevention and Treatment (KADBUSA) is the first state government agency that was established by Law 9 of 2016, wholly devoted to fighting drug abuse;
-Kaduna state was the first subnational to conduct a state-wide survey last year on drug abuse and KADBUSA has been raising awareness on the problem;
-KADBUSA has also been waging war against drug abuse on the demand side while NDLEA and Civil Defence has been battling with the supply side of the problem;
-It is building four world class Rehab Centres but in the interim, KADBUSA has established a Support Clinic within its premises, where out-patients are treated and counselled;
-KADBUSA offers a wholistic bio-psycho-social treatment to patients; the biological treatment covers the actual medication, while the psychological treatment dwells on psycho-therapy and social treatment is the skills acquisition component of the treatment;
– It collaborates with the Ministry of Education to sensitise students on the menace of drug abuse.