The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday raised the alarm that the 19 Northern states of the federation were under serious threat due to drug abuse, adding that over three million bottles of codeine syrup were consumed daily in Kano and Jigawa states.
The upper chamber of the National Assemble also revealed that across the 19 states, women, young girls in tertiary institutions, working class ladies, married, unemployed women displaced by Boko Haram insurgency, among others, were involved in drug abuse.
It also said that in 2015 alone, over 2,205 people were arrested in North-West geo-political zone by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, over drug-related abuses.
This revelation was sequel to the adoption of a motion by Senator Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai (APC,Borno) and 37 others on the need to check the rising menace of pharmaceutical drug abuseamong youths.
The motion was seconded by Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano).
Garbai said research has shown that abusers of the codeine syrup in Kano and Jigawa states take up to 3 to 8 bottles per day.
He said while the abuse of prescriptive drugs and cough syrups had been thought to be a problem typical in the North-Western part of the country, investigations have shown an incredible spike in drug-abuse in Borno State and the Northeast ravaged by Boko Haram.
“The increasing abuse of cough and prescriptive drugs, among the youth and women across the 19 northern states has resulted in meaningless deaths, rendered them largely unproductive and has devastated many upper and middle class families in the region.
“There are several reports about young girls in tertiary institutions, who have taken to an alarming abuse of the codeine cough syrup, which is often taken, mixed with soft drink. This problem is destroying even mothers in homes, as they use same codeine and other drugs as an escape from their abusive relationships and invariably get hooked on them,” he said.
He said the abuse of cough syrup has become so widespread in recent years, that even secondary school students use them regularly.
“The pharmaceutical drug abuse is threatening a generation of northern Nigerian women including, young girls in tertiary institutions, working class ladies, married women, unemployed women, displaced women from the Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Senator Aliyu Wamakko said the problem of drug abuse was not peculiar to the north; hence it should be treated as a national menace.
Consequently, the Senate mandated its Joint Committee on Drugs and Narcotics and Health to investigate the growing menace of cough and other prescriptive drugs abuse and report back to the Senate on the needed legislative interventions to combat the trend.
It also urged the Federal Government to partner with states, local governments, traditional rulers, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, NGOs to create a holistic framework in fighting this category of drug abuse.