By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
As part of strategies to reduce the growing trend of hard drug in Nigeria, the Freedom Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has urged both the Federal and state governments to engage drug barons and peddlers by providing them alternative means of livelihood.
It also called for a shift in drug managenent in line with global best practices.
The group further urged Nigerians to focus more on drug treatment rather than drug prevention or sanitization alone.
In an interactive parley with members of Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN) in Lagos, the group said this strategy, if well embraced, could enhance the management of the critical sector of the health industry, saying that drug does not discriminate against the rich or the poor.
It lamented that the barons and the peddlers in their drive to be rich are destroying other people’s life.
According to the group’s Advocacy Coordinator, Mr. Olusesan Samuel, who spoke to our correspondent at Crime Reporters Conference Hall in Oduduwa, Lagos, there are three pillars being used globally when carrying out intervention for drugs use.
He identified them as, “Supply induction, Demand induction and Arm induction.”
He said that, the arm induction method for drugs users is to help them become functional citizens of the society so that the danger posed by these drugs will be drastically reduced.
“The truth is that we will be deceiving ourselves that we want to eradicate drug use; we cannot eradicate it, but we can only reduce it to barest minimum.
“There are countries around the world that adopted this strategy effectively; and their rate of substances’ use disorder has drastically reduced, ” he said.
Samuel added that the Foundation seeks to reach out to people, give hope, rehabilitate, educate and empower impoverished persons in order to achieve individual and community transformation for the overall development of the country.
He said, “We work more on demand induction treatment and arm induction, but the arm induction is a bit different from classical arm induction, which we do in Freedom Foundation; but it is still part of the globally accepted practice. “
“We have put in consideration our locality because what works in Kenya may not work in Nigeria; and we have to develop something that will work in Nigeria.”
He also gave a graphical statistics of drug use, which indicated the involvement of females, pointing out that, “The statistics also showed that out of four drugs users, one of them is a female.
According to him, “We have female wing where we take care of ladies that have been sexually trafficked, exploited or violated,”
“A lot of us will have heard the story of Lizzy that went viral on the social media; we got the lady, and we brought her to our rehabilitation center. By the time we compare and contrast her with the former Lizzy and the current Lizzy, you would know that the difference is clear.”
He added that the foundation also takes care of ladies who are sexually trafficked and violated between the ages 18 -35 years.
“It is easier to work with this category of people; even the people that are a bit older than that of the senior age , but many of them may not want to speak out based on several stories that have been going on, while a lot of them prefer to keep it to themselves,
“So, we work with the younger ones, because it’s easier for us to get information from them and seek help for them through our collaboration with NAPTIP and other relevant agencies,” he said.
Also speaking at the occasion, its Project Manager, Mr. John Akinola said the foundation gives hope to the people that find it difficult to be functional due to the scourge and issue of substance use.
He said the foundation works directly with the people in the streets who not only use the substances, but became addicted to them.
He said that such people are as much as possible, brought to the Drugs Heal Centre (DIC), where many activities have been planned for them.
“For the past three years that the drugs’ rehabilitation centre has been in existence, we have reached out to over 600 clients that are core substance abuse.”
Basically, what we are doing is to try as much possible reach out to the society and give them hope that they could still be functional in the society, because many people have lost their lives, their jobs, families or practically live on the streets just because of substance use.
“Through the Drug Heal Centre (DIC), we try as much as possible to connect them to their family members and make them functional in the society”, he said.
Akiola called for a renewed effort by religious organisations to address the sourge from worsening, saying: “The drug peddlers and dealers need church services that would not dwell on condemnation, but on reconciliation messages. It’s not about judging them, but loving them.”