The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has warned that with 14.3 percent of its 200 million citizens involved in drug and substance abuse, Nigeria is on the verge of a ticking time bomb.
It however called for the development of policies that will address the situation, saying that, people with drug disorders that come in contact with the criminal justice system, should be treated rather than sent to prison.
The project officer of UNODC, Akanidomo Ibanga stated this on Tuesday, October 3, while representing the office at the capacity building training for operatives of the Kaduna Bureau of Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (KADBUSA).
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According to Ibanga, 14.3 percent of Nigerians have used drugs within the past years, “that is 14.4 million people. Now, that is three times more than the global average. We have a serious drug problem on our hands.
“The Nigerian situation is peculiar because it has a drug problem, again it doesn’t have enough treatment facilities to handle the issues of people that have drug disorders.
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“This date is even 2018 data. From that time till date, the number of people using drugs has probably increased. Projections from WHO and UNODC is that there will be a 40 percent increase in drug use by 2030 in Africa, and Nigeria will be the most populous country in Africa, which means it will have most of the number.
“So, we are saying that we are sitting on a time bomb because comes 2030, we are talking about 20 percent prevalence, that is, one in every five people you meet on the street.
He further stated: “There are certain things we can do to avert this. UNODC has evolved certain responses and developed certain models. We are hoping that these models can be run by both National and state governments.
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“There is also a need for us to develop more policies that will address the situation. There is a need for us to look for alternatives to persuasion so that for people with drug disorders who come in contact with the criminal justice system, it is better to treat them than to send them to prison.
“So, there are several things that we have on the ground that is evidence-based. There is a need for us to adopt them and tell them out nationally.”
Earlier, the Director-General of KADBUSA, Joseph Ike said, the training which is in alignment with Governor Uba Sani’s administration’s agenda which emphasizes Human Capital Development and Citizens’ Engagement, is also important for diligently carrying out the important mandate of the Bureau.
He said: “This collaborative initiative between KADBUSA, the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, and the UNODC underscores the commitment to addressing the pressing issue of substance abuse within the state. By enhancing the capabilities of KADBUSA’s operations staff, the program aims to make a tangible difference in the lives of those affected by drug abuse and addiction.
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“This 2-Day Capacity Building Training is a significant step towards a healthier, more secure, and prosperous Kaduna State.”