The immediate and remote causes of drug and substance abuse in our societies especially in the North can be attributed to many factors:
*The breakdown of family systems especially the loosening of parental control and oversight.
*Rapid and uncontrolled urbanization with its attendant ills and challenges
*The breakdown of educational system from the primary to secondary levels
*The lack of meaningful roles for traditional rulers and their supporting institutions
*The lack of guidance and awareness among our youth and adolescents
*The unchecked and uncontrolled availability of addictive and intoxicating substances making them so readily accessible in every corner of our towns and villages.
*The absence of governmental control, oversight and sanction for infringement of rules and regulations also make it possible for drug dealers and peddlers to market their illicit wares with impunity and almost in the very sight of the law and get away with it.
*The institutional deficiency in capacity especially in the NDLEA due to underfunding, lack of manpower and mobility and prosecutorial powers has rendered the organization incapable of interdiction and arrest of dealers in this dangerous merchandise.
*Many cases of destruction of seized drugs and harmful substances have been reported in the national media, but there are seldom the reports about the prosecution of the persons from whom such seizures were made. The impounded substances must have been brought into the country by persons but they have proved to be rather elusive and difficult to apprehend and bring to book.
Multiple and intersecting challenges like unemployment, lack of a future for the youth, poverty and growing sense of frustration and idleness compounded in some situations by illiteracy, have pushed the phenomenon from its hidden enclaves into the full glare of society thereby creating this sense of urgency and concern to deal with it.
If robust and concerted actions by community members are not taken to address the grouping of young people around societies like Yan Banga, Yan Daba, Yan Daukan Amarya, Yan Kalare, ECOMOG, etc, and if idle gravitational places of induction like Tashan Mota, Bakin Kasuwa, Unguwar Cinema, etc are not cleared of miscreants and undesirable elements, the phenomenon of drug abuse can never be satisfactorily addressed and ameliorated.
These are the “grey zones” in Northern cities and towns where all sorts of bad and negative behaviours are imbibed and exhibited to tempt the young and vulnerable among both the sexes.
Likewise, street hawking and vending have contributed to some extent to the attraction of both young boys and girls to wanton and reckless experiments in new lifestyles such as drug and substance inhalation and ingestion.
A radical overhaul of society especially by addressing vagrancy, street hawking and vending and the needless gathering of youth in motor parks and market places must be embarked upon if the centers of gravity of such antisocial behaviours are to be neutralized.
- Suleiman is spokesperson Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG)