The new red flag raised in the House of Representatives over the scourge of narcotic drugs, especially among the youth of the country, is a call for the intensification of efforts to tackle the drug menace in our society.
The story of drug abuse in Nigeria started with marijuana or weeds. But from the 1980s cocaine and heroin, which were mainly grown and manufactured in South America and couriered through countries like Nigeria, became such a major public concern that the Major-General Muhammadu Buhari military regime in 1984 got three convicted drug pushers publicly executed even though they committed the offence before the decree criminalising it was promulgated.
In recent times, cheaper forms of narcotics were “discovered” by desperate addicts. These included codeine, tramadol, toilet-sniffing and other cheap mixtures that were referred to in the streets as “science student”. These were rampant among the urban poor and in our towns and cities.
Crystal methamphetamine, which has suddenly barged its way to public notoriety, is the new source of concern. Known as mkpuru mmiri (seeds of water) in the South-East where it is wreaking havoc among the youth, it is highly addictive, hallucinogenic and able to condemn the user either to a mental liability or outright death.
The boom in drug abuse among the youth and elderly alike in Nigeria is linked to idleness occasioned by unemployment, insecurity and violent crimes. As an idle hand is the devil’s workshop, people with little or nothing to do to give their lives a meaning often turn to the deceptive comfort of cheap drugs.
Also, violent groups such as jihadists, armed herdsmen, bandits, cultists and armed robbers use these drugs to propel them to uncommon levels of violence, wickedness and bestiality.
The upsurge of violence in the South- East due to the activities of separatist agitators, the so-called “unknown gunmen”, violent impunity of military and security forces and the benumbing “sit-at-home” orders must have played the youth into the arms of crystal meth.
The House of Representatives should not stop at calling for a “Marshall Plan” to end the menace. They should walk their talk. A Marshall Plan involves eradicating a threat and rehabilitating/reintegrating both perpetrators and victims such that the threat will not reoccur. That is what the war against narcotics requires.
It is unfortunate that despite the existence of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and other law enforcement agencies, Mexican drug cartels were allowed to set up manufacturing plants in Nigeria, as a report submitted to the House of Representatives claimed.
We must root out these plants, sweep their perpetrators into jail, block the supply routes and networks and evolve a comprehensive plan for the rehabilitation of addicts.
Otherwise, we are heading towards perdition as a nation.