By Hassan Galadima, Abuja
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has pledged the commitment of the 8th Senate to work with relevant agencies like the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) to curb increasing incidence of drug abuse in the country.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, spoke when the leadership of the PSN visited him at the National Assembly in Abuja.
While expressing worry over the increasing menace of drug abuse and trafficking in the country, especially among the youths and women, he said, “Everybody is aware of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) powers on the control and prevention of drug abuse and trafficking in the country but not everyone is aware of the lack of control of drug abuse from over the counter prescription. This is not covered by the present NDLEA regulation.
“The sale of over the counter prescription of hard drugs across the country is rampant. It does not know tribe or religion, whether in the South, East, West and North of the country.
“It has no boundary. What is even more disturbing is that it seems to be affecting our women and girls. This is frightening and as a concerned Senate and National Assembly, this public outcry is worrisome and the Senate will definitely not sit and watch this unattended.
“I think drug abuse also is becoming a great national issue. I know that tomorrow a motion on it would be taken at the plenary. The commitment is that Senate will take this matter very serious, hence it is important to have this meeting with you and get your opinion on this national issue,” the President of the Senate said.
While assuring the Pharmacists of the support of the Senate to curb and control drug abuse in Nigeria, Dr. Saraki said, “let us fight together to address this menace and do something to stop this growing illegal consumption of illegal drugs, especially this over the counter prescription.”
He also assured the PSN that the Senate will fast-track the amendment of the NDLEA Act amendment bill currently before the National Assembly and ensure that drug rehabilitation centres are built across the country to assist in quick rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Earlier, the President of the PSN, Ahmed Yakasai, lamented the recurring menace of drug misuse and abuse in the country and stated that it is taking unprecedented toll on the health of consumers in the country.
He said that the PSN is advocating an amendment to the NDLEA Act to accommodate a new directorate of consumer protection, to be headed by a Registered Pharmacist.
This directorate, he said, will be empowered to coordinate health advocacy and monitoring/control of narcotics and other medicines with abuse and misuse potentials in Nigeria.
Yakasai said: “This Act shall best be pursued on the template of a private member’s bill which we assure Your Excellency will have the maximum support of the PSN.
“We must not fail to utilize this discourse to request for the cooperation of Your Excellency to facilitate the PCN Act amendment bill which is being championed by the Nigeria Law Reform Commission and presently pending before the House Committee on Health in the House of Representatives”