Stakeholders has urged Nigeria politicians to stop using the youth to peddle illicit drugs saying it is destroying both lives and the economy.
This was stated at a webinar on the Effect of Illicit Drugs on Business Community organised by the National Chamber Policy Centre (NCPC) of Abuja Chamber of Commerce (ACCI) on Tuesday.
The webinar was organised to look into the effect of illicit drugs and to underscore the negative effect on the value chain of businesses and the negative effects on the youth who are the mostly affected.
The Director General ACCI, Dr Victoria Akai in her opening remarks at the virtual conference stated that Illicit Drugs pose obvious threats to human lives, national development and security adding that the burden of drug abuse is becoming a national security concern as it is one of the key factors that enables crime and terrorism in Nigeria.
“The failing economy, high rate of graduate unemployment, poverty, failure of government to provide basic necessities of life, high level of corruption, and get-rich-quick syndrome mostly amongst young person in Nigeria (who are also the heartbeat of the workforce), constitute the various banes behind the practice of illicit drug trafficking. The Government and business community are increasingly recognizing the negative consequences of illicit drug use on the economy and the Nation’s workforce.
“Economically, businesses often are affected because employees who abuse drugs sometimes steal cash or supplies, equipment, and products that can be sold to get money to buy drugs. Moreover, absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased use of medical and insurance benefits by employees who abuse drugs affect a business financially.”
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of May and Baker Nigeria, Mr Patrick Ajah in his keynote address stated that drug trade is a big criminal issue with direct negative impact on the economy but many delve into it because of the profit they are making from it.
He said illicit drugs are a major source of income for some countries and a lot of individuals adding that their organised network is so strong that it is difficult to dismantle, and they have enough resources to fund its growth adding that if we can solve the issues of unemployment to a reasonable extent we can also cub the issues of drug abuse.
“Most of these drugs are not produced in Nigeria but are brought from Asia and South American countries. Thus, Nigeria serves not only as a consuming nation, but an international-transit point for illicit trafficking to Europe and America. The fall out of the effects of this illicit trade in Nigeria is the creation of local markets for the sale and consumption of cocaine, heroin and many other drugs and agents of abuse.”
He sighted the Colombia where the seemingly abandoned lower class see the narco money as a blessing cursed with unimaginable violence. “Escobar’s legacy is often discussed as a modern day Robin Hood taking from the rich Americans and negligent government to fund social programs and put money in the hands of the lower class.
“Colombians earn more from the drug trade than any other nationality of the western hemisphere” (Bagley). The Colombian economy is the ﬁfth largest in Latin America with a GDP of $336 Billion in 2018. Colombia’s main exports are petroleum, coffee, and cut ﬂowers. The economy grows at a rate of 1.8% per year (based off of GDP).”
He added that Nigeria is not different from the other countries analysed both as a drug consuming nation and a traffic route.
The Programme Officer, YouthRISE Nigeria, Martha Saleh in her presentation stated that drug issue in Nigeria is a development challenge that has created burden on the health, social, and economic development of the society.
She said Nigeria has moved from just being a transit route to organised illicit market having production sites across the nation.
The representative of NAFDAC, Mr Kalat Musa also said that the high rate of drug addiction has resulted to loss of productivity, crime and lawlessness while also saying that drug abuse affects not only the individual but also their families and it is a threat to human existence as a whole.
“Business logistics have been affected as a result of insecurities caused by drugs. Economic security is the ability for businesses to run smoothly but this has been altered by the drug issue.”
He said his agency has developed narcotics assessment in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and they have stopped the production of these harmful drugs.
He urged the government to look inwards while teachers should play a role on the eradication of drug abuse by including it in their curriculum. Let us look back to our roots, religious Centres, communities and rehabilitation Centre to find a lasting solution.”
Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration Service Kolawole Amad stated that we should concentrate on our family values adding that the family line linking drug abuse to insecurity is not farfetched.
The Exexcutive Director and organiser of the programme, Mr Olawale Rasheed who lauded the presentations of Stakeholders at the webinar said the recommendations from the meeting would be documented in a proper report and shared to the appropriate authority for implemention.
ACCI, Media/Strategy Officer