The Senate has raised the alarm over the consumption of over three million bottles of codeine syrup daily in Kano and Jigawa States.
It has also revealed that the 19 northern States are not exempted from the growing menace of drug abuse, especially among young girls in tertiary institutions.
The Red Chamber said the uncontrollable abuse has destroyed mothers in homes, as they use codeine and other drugs as an escape from their abusive relationships.
Lawmakers also revealed that secondary school students consume cough syrups regularly.
They said pharmaceutical drug abuse is threatening a generation of Northern Nigerian women including, young girls in tertiary institutions, working class ladies, married women, unemployed women and displaced women from the Boko Haram insurgency, among others.
In a motion, titled, “The need to check the rising menace of pharmaceutical drug abuse among youths especially in Northern Nigeria”, and sponsored by Baba Kaka Garbai and 38 other lawmakers. the upper chamber revealed that in 2015 alone, over 2,205 people were arrested in North West geopolitical zone by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), over drug-related abuses.
“While drug abuse especially cannabis and cocaine, has been a long-time problem among northern male youths, codeine cough syrup and other prescriptive drugs have become as termed, “the new cancer ravaging women and girls in the North”.
“According to the NDLEA, North West Nigeria has consistently had the highest number of drug related arrests in recent years, with 2,205 arrests in 2015. The abuse of codeine syrup and other controlled drugs, currently constitute the greatest challenge faced by youths and drug officers alike in Northern Nigeria.
“Research has shown that Kano and Iigawa states, consume more than three (3) million bottles of codeine syrup daily, as abusers take up to 3 to 8 bottles daily. While the abuse of prescriptive drugs and cough syrups had been thought to be a problem, typical in the North-Western part of the Country, investigations have shown an incredible spike in drug-abuse in Borno State and the North East ravaged by Boko Haram,” the motion read.
It added: “The increasing abuse of cough and prescriptive drugs, among the youth and women across the 19 northern states in the country, has resulted in meaningless deaths, rendered them largely unproductive and has devastated many upper and middle class families in Northern Nigeria.
“Several reports about young girls in tertiary institutions in Northern Nigeria, who have taken to an alarming abuse of the Codeine cough syrup, which is often taken, mixed with a soft drink.
“This problem is destroying even the mothers in homes, as they use same codeine and other drugs as an escape from their abusive relationships and invariably get hooked on them.
“The abuse of cough syrup has become so widespread in recent years, that even secondary school students use them regularly. Pharmaceutical drug abuse is threatening a generation of Northern Nigerian women including, young girls in tertiary institutions, working class ladies, married women, unemployed women, displaced women from the Boko Haram insurgency etc.
“The NDLEA faces a tough challenge in dealing with the problem of these ”Pharma-narcotics” in the North as its mandate does not cover the category of drugs being currently abused in the North.
“A concerted effort of relevant stakeholdersgovernment agencies, northern state governors and traditional rulers, religious clerics, educational institutions etc, is needed to combat this menace.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who presided, said the Senate will take necessary actions to reduce the growing menace. He said the Senate will strengthen the NDLEA to effectively carryout it’s duties.
Saraki said: “I want to commend lawmakers for their contributions. This is becoming a big issue for the country. Yesterday, I had the chance of meeting with pharmaceutical practioners. We need to amend the NDLEA Act to reflect the current realities.
“By this motion, we are giving hope to every parent in Nigeria that we are committed to tackle the problem of drug abuse in every part of the country, especially in the North.”
The Senate mandated its joint committee on Drugs and Narcotics and Health to investigate the growing menace of cough and other prescriptive drugs abuse and report back to the Senate on the needed legislative interventions to combat this trend.
The Senate has also urged the Federal Government to partner with relevant stakeholders, traditional rulers, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, civil society organisations to create a holistic framework in fighting this category of drug abuse especially in Northern Nigeria.
The National Food and Drug Agency (NAFDAC) has also been urged to embark on a vigorous sensitisation campaign on the dangers of drug abuse and steps on achieving a successful rehabilitation for people with the addiction.
by Ehisuan Odia…
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