By; BALA B. BITRUS
The youth and young persons of any country are no doubt the future of such a country. They are the pride and hope of tomorrow.
But any place where such important segment of the country’s population is being threatened by a given phenomenon, the future of such a country is not only bleak but it’s potentialities are anything but hopeful nor promising.
This is not being unnecessarily alarmist, but the sweeping tides of drug addiction, alcoholism and the prevalence of lunacy, psychiatric cases and mental imbalance amongst young persons in almost all parts of Nigeria today sends shivers of cold sweat to my spine and it should to any right thinking and concerned person.
To put it rather succinctly, we are on a precipice of imminent destruction if this trend is not holistically fought, checked and reversed.
Today, Nigeria is under a vicious circle of liquor, drug and narcotics addiction. The use of drugs including all manner of allied and assorted psychotropic substances, herbal, roots, weeds, seeds, barks, concoctions, chemicals, fumes, waste and droppings of animals and rodents by especially young persons across this country is a common knowledge to establishments including religious institutions, corrective or reformatory institutions, law enforcement agencies as well as drug and food regulatory organs of government.
Howbeit the legal instruments against drugs, narcotics and substances abuse are deficient, the laws are weak, the enforcement is ineffectual, the enforcers are often times culpable in default and abuse and most times the environment itself is permissive.
The result and consequence of all these is that Nigeria is now a country whose budding youth population is fast sliding into decadence, rot of a perpetual slavery to drug and substances related derangement and mental imbalance.
It is pitiable and painful to admit that in this country, all manner of intoxicants, traditional and orthodox, are free on sale in the open, and to all manner of persons including to minors and the under aged without any restraint or regulations.
From drugstores, conventional chemists and the notorious mobile drug seller known in common parlance in the north as “Kafada Chemist” to the illicit teashop owner who masquerades and hides his true illicit business of psychotropic substances selling, to local merchants and dealers of hard drugs, the business of illicit drug peddling, sales and consumption is on the rise so also are the rates of cases of addiction, dementia, derangement and lunacy amongst particularly young persons.
The ugly trend cuts across both sexes and without age limits. The young are involved and the not so young too. The worrisome development is that drug and liquors’ addiction are now rampant across homes, schools, in urban centres as it is in villages.
Drug and liquor use have assumed frenzy, trending persuasive and compulsive grips on many with spiral rise in the production, circulation, consumption of illicit adulterated harmful and killer concoctions.
From the so-called herbal based liquor of roots and herbs, the so-called natural ginger, banana, orange and pineapple flavoured energy drinks, the local hard gins and spirits, the chemical based substances and all what-not, the future and lives of many young persons are being ruined and cut short daily.
Addiction in liquor, drugs and other habit forming intoxicants are spreading with alacrity just as the use of codeine has today assumed a national image denting embarrassment to the Nigerian government.
Codeine syrups, tramadol and other morphine based sedative opiums and other off the counter drugs are in massive circulations today across the country including in villages, in the hands of untrained, unlicensed persons, teenagers and minors.
Federal regulatory organs in food, beverages should synergize with health ministry and beam their watchtowers lights on hard liquors in circulation which are injurious to vital human organs including the heart, lungs and kidneys, the brain cells and other internal organs.
Such trending liquors as those in palm size plastic bottles and satchets now in every nook and crannies in Nigeria should be mopped up. Their sources sealed up, their production stopped forthwith and their sales, circulation and consumption banned outrightly in any part of this country.
The law should be made more drastic on any material, food or drink that is found to be injurious to public health.
Customs and Immigration officials as well as all regulatory agencies in food, drugs and beverages at all entry points into Nigeria particularly the Sea Ports and land borders should be on the look out for such drugs and liquor.
Food, drugs and beverages regulatory agencies like the National Agency for Foods, Drugs and Administration, (NAFDAC), should reevaluate it’s license issuance system and screen all such local breweries and producers of liquor and check all fake claimants parading NAFDAC registration numbers and particulars on their products.
Government’s continuous silence and inaction on the use and abuse of controlled drugs, narcotics and hard liquor is as dangerous as conceding defeat in a battle that can be fought and won.
The fact that the Nigerian government had to wait till a foreign media organization blew up the lid on the nefarious sales, circulation and trafficking in codeine syrup used as psychotropic substances by all and sundry few weeks ago, speaks volume of government’s lame duck approach and response to a dangerous and destructive situation and development well known to almost all.
There is therefore the urgent need for governments at all levels to be more proactive, diligent and decisive in handling drugs, narcotics and hard liquor addictions.
The prize for silence over such dangerous, sensitive developments, is having to live with the consequences of a being a condemned people without a good future.
A country without a responsible growing youth population, is a nation that is doomed. A nation that is populated by drunks, addicts, lunatics and mentally deranged persons, is a wasted generation.