Reports reaching our Health news desk confirm that Nigerian youths are becoming drug addicts. The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is fighting the menace of illicit drugs production, circulation, marketing and consumption as dictated by their legislative mandate.
Whether the drug czar enforcer is living up to its billing is another matter; as Nigerian teenagers are now rivaling their peers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Nigerian drug barons are making a fast buck recruiting more teenagers to serve as couriers and runners, and many are getting high on their own supply. In Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, many youths, mainly from elite homes are increasingly joining the ‘big boys club’ that abuse drugs such as heroin, cocaine and hashish. Other forms of drugs like Indian hemp, popularly called Igbow! or grass! which is commonly produced in Nigeria and others like methamphetamine, syrups and tablets with codeine capable of intoxicating the users are mostly found in many secondary schools, universities, military barracks, motor parks, slum areas etc.
The latest craze, which probably started around 2010 and has gained much currency in terms of abusing it, is: Codeine cough syrup. What is codeine? Niger Reporters will provide medical information: codeine is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Codeine is used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. Codeine may also be used for purposes not listed in some medication guides. Codeine may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person for whom it was prescribed. The medical jingle is: never share codeine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. It is now common knowledge that the abuse of codeine is common among girls and women of northern extraction in Nigeria, mainly in the cities of Kano, Kaduna and Abuja. Our investigation reveal that many of these young women are spinsters, but many are also married to powerfully connected husbands in government, industry and the military. This fact may be why the NDLEA is finding it very hard to scoop information from their elite circle, penetrate their drug lairs, investigate their illegal practice and make arrests accordingly.
Nigeria used to be a transit point in the 80s and 90s, but now the oil-rich nation in West Africa has assumed the position and destination for hard and illicit drugs. With a huge population of some 150 million people, Nigeria is an awesome and thriving market for the consumption of illicit drugs. Many people in Nigeria believe that the NDLEA is understaffed and underfunded to battle the illicit drug czars and peddlers with wide networks of distribution and supply. The NDLEA itself has come under the lens of scrutiny for poor performance and many found them wanting in their area of operation.