Delta State Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, Thursday, raised the alarm on the growing incidence of hard drug abuse in the country, saying it had become a global public health that needed to be tackled head on and called on all stakeholders to work towards its prompt effective eradication.
Oborevwori stated this when the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd) and his delegation visited him at Government House, Asaba.
He commended the NDLEA and other stakeholders for the fight against hard drug abuse but urged that the momentum must be sustained if the nation was to win the war against the growing illicit hard drugs business.
He assured the NDLEA of the State Government’s unwavering commitment and support to the fight against substance abuse and illicit drugs business.
The Governor, said: “I am very touched that you took time to come to Delta State over the incident that happened and also used the opportunity to meet your people here.
“I celebrate your sacrifice, commitment and dedication to duty. You have demonstrated that you are a caring and passionate leader; the kind of leader we need in Nigeria.
“It is not a strange thing to us because we know you and we know your antecedents during your time as a Military Administrator of Lagos State.
“Delta State is happy to receive you and we know that under your leadership, the NDLEA has recorded outstanding successes; bursting drug cartels in the country. I commend you and your personnel of the NDLEA for your resolve to rid the nation of illicit drugs, no matter who is involved.
“The momentum must be sustained if we are to win the war against drug abuse. Drug abuse is both a global health and social problem. In Nigeria, it has become a public health menace.
“It needs urgent and proactive actions to be able to handle the trend and I assure you of our unwavering support and partnership in this fight.”
He, however, said that, despite the rise in drug abuse, a lot was being done on advocacy and rehabilitation at the designated centers, adding that, in support of the goals of the NDLEA, he had appointed a capable hand as Senior Special Assistant on Illlicit Drugs.
He said the unfortunate incident of July in which an innocent child died and another injured in the course of an NDLEA operation in the state would not stop the state government from supporting the fight against drug trafficking and substance abuse.
“The incident that happened in July, will not stop the state from going after those into illegal hard drugs. Immediately the incident happened, the people who started fuelling the attack on the NDLEA personnel, are those into drugs.
“NDLEA did not just go to that scene to raid; there was an information which was very reliable. We went to the Federal Medical Centre to commiserate with the family and took care of the medical bills.
“We commend the NDLEA for sending a team for an investigation to ascertain what actually happened. I also instructed the Secretary to State Government to give a letter to the family to get American Visa for the treatment of the child abroad.
“On the issue of partnership, we are already partnering. What you are doing in the NDLEA is commendable and Nigerians are happy”, he said.
Earlier, Marwa had appreciated Governor Oborevwori for his commitment and support to the agency and commended him for his work in the state and wished him more successes in the future.
He said he was in Delta to condole with the Fidelis family on the death of the two-year-old Eromonsele who accidentally lost his life during an operation in Asaba and to also speak with stakeholders playing important roles in the fight against drug trafficking in the country.
He said the agency was working towards processing and fast tracking travel arrangements to sponsor the surviving brother’s eye treatment in America.
He said winning the war against drug trafficking was imperative because of its negative impact in the society, if left to fester
He said hard drug scourge in Nigeria had become very high with over 15m drug users within the age bracket of 15 and 64 years, according to the relevant agency of the United Nations survey and called for the support and cooperation of the state government in the fight against the scourge.
Marwa traced the rampant kidnapping, terrorism, banditry,insurgency, rape, murder and other vices across the country to hard drug abuse by perpetrators.
He said drug abuse prevalence rate in Delta State among those of 15 and 64 years was 18 percent, with over half a million of the population involved.
Marwa said the agency, in two years, had destroyed nearly over 1,000 hectares of land devoted to the cultivation of illicit drugs, seized over 6,000 tonnes and arrested over 36,000 suspects and persons of interest, while over 6,000 were convicted and jailed.
The highpoint of the visit was the decoration of Governor Oborevwori as Ambassador in the fight against drug and substance abuse.