By Ijendu Iheaka
Senior Special Adviser to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu on Narcotics, Mr. David Anyanwu, has urged the federal government to declare a state of emergency on illegal substance abuse to drastically curtail the menace.
Anyanwu made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Aba.
He said drastic action was required to win the war against illicit and narcotic substance abuse which had grown to a pandemic level across the country.
Anyanwu said the rate at which teenagers and youths were engaging in illicit substance abuse was alarming and needed effective urgent action to check.
He said that to drastically curtail the devastating effects of hard drugs on teenagers and youths, government must start a total and sustained fight against hard drugs menace.
He said such a fight could only be sustained and made all encompassing through measures obtainable only from the declaration of a state of emergency on hard drugs in Nigeria.
“Recently, I interviewed a teenager who said he had started taking hard drugs five years earlier.
“That is the level that hard drugs consumption has reached in Nigeria and if drastic actions are not taken, we will live to regret it.
“I have received a call today to assist in seeking rehabilitation opportunity for a young first-class graduate of a nearby university who now is insane because of hard drugs use,” he said.
He said rehabilitating a drug patient now costs more than N300, 000 per person, stressing that such amount of money is beyond the reach of average Nigerian parents.
He said if persons whose drug consumption and reaction had entered a critical stage are not rehabilitated, it would result in mental derangement which becomes a heightened social problem.
Anyanwu called for urgent change of legislation on drug-related offences in Nigeria to effectively check drug abuse and peddling.
“Countries that have strict drug laws like China, Cambodia and others have peace because nobody would stick out his neck to carry drugs into them unless such a person wants to die.
“Our laws in Nigeria are too loose. Drug peddlers who are caught are given few months in prison and that is not enough to discourage them and others from going into drug peddling.
“The laws should be made stricter so that the drug offenders will rot in jail as that would deter would-be drug peddlers to desist,” he said.