The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has sought the support of the Jigawa government to compel intending couples and candidates for admission into tertiary institutions to go for drug test.
NDLEA’s Commander in the state, Hajiya Maryam Gambo, made the call on Wednesday at the inauguration of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) in Gumel, Gumel Local Government Area of the state.
Others to be subjected to the drug test include employment seekers as well as those aspiring for political positions.
Gambo said the measure was to check drug abuse among residents of the state, to reduce the menace to the barest minimum, describing the prevalence rate in Nigeria as “worrisome,” compared to global average.
According to her, the 2018 UNODC/Ministry of Health survey indicated that 14.3 million Nigerians, between ages 25 and 64 engaged in drug abuse in the country.
“The World Drug Report ranked Nigeria as the leading country in the abuse of cannabis. And these statistics should worry Nigerians.
“Also, over 2,000 tons of hard drug valued at N90 billion was seized in the country in 10 months. Just last month, over 200 persons were arrested including 49 females.
“Girls, mostly in high schools organise drug parties even here in Jigawa State.
“Therefore, NDLEA is soliciting government support to subject residents to drug test when they are making arrangements for marriage, admission, employment and more importantly, those aspiring for political positions,” she said.
The Commander said that WADA inaugurated in June 2021 by the Chairman of the agency, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retired), aimed at eliminating drug abuse and trafficking in the country.
“Sequel to the inauguration of WADA programme nationwide, the initiative is aimed at eliminating drug abuse and trafficking in Nigeria, hence the need to replicate it in Gumel Emirate.
“The reason for gathering very important dignitaries today, especially traditional institutions is because you are the custodians of the tradition, and mouthpiece and ear of your various communities.
“Therefore, I want the WADA message to be passed to the grassroots.
“The reason why this message must reach all nooks and crannies of Jigawa is because in every community and every home, there is the problem of drug abuse.
“And as we are all seated here today, everyone is affected directly or indirectly.
“Directly in the sense that if you are not using or selling these prohibited drugs, your family member may be involved.
“Indirectly in the sense that as part of the community, if your neighbour is involved, you are also involved and this affects the community as a whole,” she said.
The commander said the menace of drug abuse informed the agency direction to initiate WADA campaign in every community across the country, to create awareness on the ills of drug abuse.
Gambo added: “If every member of the society is involved in this fight against drug abuse and trafficking, by the grace of God, we will be able to drastically reduce it to the barest minimum.”
According to her, globally, there has been a strategic shift in the war against illicit drugs, noting that the new strategy calls for more community engagement, hence the massive advocacy rolled out by the NDLEA.
Gambo stated that the agency had successfully pushed anti-drug abuse and trafficking themes into the mainstream media and social media.
She said that the agency has thrown open its door for partnership with NGOs, health ministries and state governments, adding that it has also made a valid case for establishing Drug Control Committees in communities across the country.
“By and large, prevention is still the best panacea to the illicit drug nightmare.
“We, therefore, implore parents, teachers, traditional institutions and faith based organisations to reinforce anti-drug attitudes and build up resilience in youths and vulnerable members of our population.
“In the prevention, narcotic organisations rely on the cooperation of the society.
“The fight against illicit drugs is the people’s fight and mileages can only be covered when society owns the fight and provide necessary support for NDLEA.
“It is not too difficult to reduce that failure to decisively tackle the scourge that has unleashed a drug abuse epidemic in the years to come,” she said.
The commander, therefore, called on well-meaning individuals in the state to join hands with the agency to make it drug-free.
In his remarks, the Emir of Gumel, Alhaji Ahmad Muhammad Sani, thanked the agency for inaugurating the WADA programme in the area.
Sani also appreciated the NDLEA and state governmen fir for their efforts in fighting drug abuse.
He admonished parents to ensure that they properly educate their children in both western and Islamic education for brighter future.
The Emir advised security agents in the state to discharge their duties with fear of God and in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Muhammad reiterated his ouncil’s commitment to educate the people on the dangers associated with drug abuse. (NAN)