By Usman Ibrahim
For a long time, Kano State has battled the enormous increase in drug abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs. Most commonly, many people directly or indirectly abuse drugs. In the past, only male youths aged 18 years and above were the major players in the business. But these days, it is more heart-aching that underage boys and girls, including married women, are into drug abuse, and it is increasing by the day and assuming top spots on the statistics.
People often see drug abusers as jobless who consume the drugs to forget their problems of unemployment and poverty. The precarious situation makes them steal from their families, friends, and even their communities.
Drug addicts are particularly vulnerable to politicians who utilize them to cause havoc during elections and protect them from the wrath of the law after their arrest. When they don’t get the opportunity to become the “boys” of the politicians, they resort to their communities and continue to cement their legacies as the greatest criminals of their time.
In addition, they sometimes make it uncomfortable for people in their communities to commute to some streets. Unfortunately, though, others see drug abuse as something one chooses to do due to peer group influence. Unfortunately, even teens living in stable and affluent homes are also into this drug addiction – many rich teens are into drug abuse despite all the care their parents have shown them.
Badawa in Kano State is one of the communities notorious for drug abuse. It is an intensely multi-ethnic setting harbouring diverse ethnicities but deeply troubled by illicit drug sales and consumption for over a decade. In an interview with a teenager into selling these intoxicants, he admitted that he couldn’t stop selling illegal drugs because he earns a lot from it, and many people from distant places come and buy from him at expensive rates. I also asked him whether he was aware of the anti-drugs agency or the vigilante groups who would arrest him, and he said he was aware. Still, he cannot stop because it is the only way to source his income.
But a philanthropist defies all odds to change existing narratives in the community. Seeing the height of the problem has made the anonymous Good Samaritan solve the menace. With his own money, he purchased three cars, walkie-talkies and uniforms to help arrest hard drug dealers and employed some men in the community’s vigilante group to assist in the fight.
According to Badar, one of the vigilante members, “At least we have arrested more than ten drug dealers in which some of them are in prison”. However, he also states that their work involves too much risk because some drug dealers walk along with knives, sharp horns and machetes, among other dangerous local weapons. So they are always cautious in handling their operations. And they work hand in hand with NDLEA to give them more information about the community.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s (NDLEA) significant role is exterminating illicit drug trafficking and consumption in Nigeria. And also, it is for the sake of protecting the country from the dangers of hard drugs. Since the agency’s establishment in 1989, the war against hard drugs has been increasing yearly. The agency tries its best to tackle drug trafficking and importation of hard drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, cough syrups and other hard substances. However, the activities of philanthropists cannot be underscored because of the rapid increase in violence, especially during elections and among drug addicts in communities.
Therefore, combating drug abuse as well as securing the lives and properties of Nigerians needs collaborative efforts between security agencies, community leaders as well as philanthropists. If there is a time when these collaborations are desperately needed, it is now.
Usman Ibrahim is a level 200 student from the Department of Information and Media Studies, Bayero University, Kano. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.