The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, on Wednesday, asked all tertiary institutions in the country to make drug integrity tests an institutional policy for new and returning students, as part of efforts to fight the menace of drug abuse among Nigerian youths.
The agency also called for partnerships with the university communities that would ensure the setting-up of outposts on campuses, to further strengthen the authorities in fighting the scourge.
The Chairman of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), made the requests at the University of Abuja, while launching the ‘Drug-Free University Campaign’.
He said, “Part of the measures to reduce drug use in the universities, is the proposed introduction of the drug integrity test for both new and returning students. The drug integrity test is anticipated to metamorphose into an anti-drug policy for all higher institutions of learning in Nigeria.
“It is expected that the University of Abuja, being the ‘University of National Unity’, will be the first public university in Nigeria to adopt the drug integrity test for fresh and returning students of the institution. The drug integrity test is not a punitive measure, rather, it is an early detection tool to ascertain an individual’s drug use status, for appropriate intervention, and timely treatment and care.
“This will also entail that the university will develop a drug policy and make such available to each student. Equally important is the need to create an NDLEA outpost on the campuses, where we’ll deploy our men to assist the authorities, deter drug dealers and users within the universities.”
While commending the management of the University of Abuja for collaborating with the NDLEA to organise the launch, Marwa said the theme, ‘Drug-Free University and Tertiary Institutions’, was apt and timely as there was no better time than now to combat the drug challenge in the university community and among students.
He said the menace of drug use in the country was of worrisome dimension, especially among the youth population.
“The truth on the ground indicates that our society needs to do more. The National Drug Use and Health Survey of 2018 showed that Nigeria has peculiar drug use prevalence. And it is instructive and worrisome to know that drug use was common among those aged 25-39 years, while the age of initiation was 22 years for heroin and 19 years for cannabis.
“Note that these age groups comprise of young people, who are either in the secondary or tertiary institutions, or are on the cusp of graduation.”
“To simplify the report of the survey, young people are overwhelmingly the majority of drug abusers in Nigeria. That is a jolting reality, because youths are the building blocks of every developed nation and anything that affects the youth population affects the nation.
“The youth population constitutes the country’s workforce and the stronger the youth of a country, the more developed that country will be. One then wonders what would become of Nigeria with about 70 per cent youth population, if the future of its youths was ravaged by drugs.
“To aggressively reverse the trend, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, launched the War Against Drug Abuse Campaign on June 26, 2021, to commemorate the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking. The goal of the WADA is to mobilise all Nigerians, especially the youth population, for active participation in the process of ridding our society of the drug menace.”
Others who spoke at the ceremony were representatives of the Minister of Education, and the National Universities Commission, as well as the Vice-Chancellor, Uni-Abuja, Prof Abdul-Rasheed Na’allah.
They commended the collaboration between the NDLEA and the university, as part of the renewed efforts to stamp out the problem of drug abuse in the country