Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other stakeholders to step up efforts to break illicit drug supply and distribution chains.
Yesterday, Osinbajo was the special guest of honor at the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja. The event was organized by the NDLEA, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs (UNODC), MTN and the EU.
The Vice President commended the NDLEA for the impressive number of drug users it had counseled and rehabilitated during the year.
“The number of drug trafficking cases reported last week proves that there is still much more illicit activity going on. The NDLEA’s expressed vision goes beyond arresting more drug criminals is to have no drug criminals at all, so the effort needs to be deepened.
“Relentlessly breaking supply chains and distribution networks of illicit drugs; discouraging drug use through intensive education and sensitization; and, also, to prosecute the traffickers quickly.
“But, above all, we must step up drug rehabilitation because we are indeed facing a public health crisis – a crisis that is taking lives, destroying families and shattering communities.
“I am happy to hear that in 2021, approximately 8,000 drug addicts were counseled and rehabilitated by the NDLEA, and in the first half of this year alone, over 11,000 drug addicts were counseled and treated.”
He said there must be a multifaceted and holistic approach to tackling drug abuse.
Osinbajo regretted that access to illicit drugs has become easier with online sales and contactless drug transactions, both influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said communities around the world must rise to this challenge, adding that the federal government would continue to support the NDLEA to fulfill its mandate.
The Vice President said that through data and evidence-based policymaking, lasting and lasting solutions to the underlying causes of drug abuse would continually be discovered.
Earlier in his opening speech, NDLEA Chairman Buba Marwa said the World Drug Report 2021 indicated that drug use killed almost half a million people in 2019.
He said the report showed that drug use disorders led to the loss of 18 million years of healthy life, mainly due to opioids.
“We are starting to see similar patterns from the results of the 2018 National Drug Use and Health Survey. The survey recorded approximately 376,000 high-risk drug users in the country, with one in five inject drugs.
“And with a total of 80,000 people who inject drugs (PWID), the risk of spreading HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases was high, which, in turn, raises the stakes of a public health crisis.
“Therefore, there was no doubt about the rationale for drug treatment,” he said.