By Aderogba George
Abuja – The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says the agency is upping itS gait to curb the menace of drug abuse in the country.
Dr Abubakar Jimoh, the Director, Public Affairs of the agency, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview on Monday in Abuja.
According to Jimoh, the agency is tackling the menace of drug abuse holistically from the regulatory perspective, enforcement and from public sensitisation awareness campaign.
“In other worbds, we are dealing with the demand side and also dealing with the supply side. For instance, NAFDAC is the one licensing tramadol; that is the one you have to legitimately use by bringing scientific purpose to it.
“I keep on telling people that nobody is saying that tramadol is bad, it has scientific use just like codeine.
“The abuse and diversion for criminal purpose and also bringing unapproved dosage into the country is what is criminal about it and that is where the border line where NAFDAC and NDLEA work together.
“The criminal aspect is what the NDLEA is handling while NAFDAC deals with the scientific purpose usage of tramadol for scientific and medicinal purpose in hospitals,’’ he stressed.
He added that the general notion by some section of the country that Kano is the hub of drug abuse was a total misconception that is pegged on imagination and physical figment.
According to Jimoh, a nationwide survey conducted and released in January 2019 by the United Nations Office on Drug Control (UNODC) on the prevalence of drug abuse revealed that the entire country is vulnerable to drug abuse with a national average of 14.4 per cent.
He added that when the survey was broken down into the six geo-political zones in the country, it was discovered that the South-West has the highest rate with 22 per cent and above in drug prevalence.
Jimoh however explained that the 14.4 per cent national average was far above the five per cent world average which is the tolerant range for drug abuse worldwide.
He said that for Nigeria to have 14.4 per cent drug abuse prevalence, it means that the country is sitting on a crane of gum powder which he described as a very serious national problem that needs to be tackled headlong.
According to Jimoh, the Kano State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government is seriously tackling the menace of drug abuse in the state.
“If you take a close look at what has happened in Kano in the last two years, it became the centre of Federal Government and State intervention where not less than three conferences against drug abuse has been held, under the former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki.
“We held a Senate round table discussion on drug abuse, Daily Trust Newspaper also held another round table in Kano, which is the flag-off, a sensitisation campaign on drug abuse, we call it `Youth Against Drug Abuse in Kano (YADA)’.
“These are efforts being made to tackle the issue of drug abuse,’’ he said.
He added that in the struggle to wage more war against the menace, the federal government on Dec. 3, 2018, inaugurated the presidential committee on the elimination of drug abuse.
He said that the committee was being chaired by retired Gen. Buba Marwa, a former Military Administrator of Borno and Lagos States.