* Set to team up with NDLEA to set up drug rehab centre
By Codratus Godson
Rivers State is now 14th on scale of drugs abuse in the country, having 15 per cent of people in the state involved illicit use of drugs. The drugs agency said such abuse fuels crime and violence, though downplayed.
A modern drug rehabilitation centre may soon emerge in Rivers State as the Rivers State government is set to partner with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on the scheme.
Gov Nyesom Wike gave the assurance when he received on courtesy visit the chairman and CEO of the NDLEA, a retired brigadier general Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) at Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
The Rivers State governor said, often, people think that the fight against criminality in the country should be targeted only at bandits and kidnappers with less attention paid to root causes of such crimes, which he said, is the use of illicit drugs.
Gov Wike stated that if concerted efforts were made towards achieving a reduction in the level of illicit drug intake in the society, there was the possibility that crime rate would also reduce.
The governor stated that those who engage in criminal acts such as rape and kidnapping often did so under the influence of hard but illicit drug. According to him, if conscientious effort was made to reduce the level of intake of illicit drug in the society, it will also lead to reduction in the crime rate.
Governor Wike pointed out the need to look at the fight against criminality holistically across the country with equal attention given to both drug influence and the crime perpetrators.
“Any government worth its salt would not hesitate to support the agency in order to tackle the issue of drug.
“For choosing Rivers State first as your first point of call shows how you take the State, and remembering that this is where your career started after your graduation from the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA).
“As for the rehabilitation centre, we will work that out with the Commander in the State, to see how we can set up a Drug Rehabilitation Centre in the state. We will also give you three Hilux Vans immediately to enhance performance of the agency.”
Governor Wike decried the state of most institutions and agencies established by the Federal Government that are not provided with requisite working tools to enable them to perform their statutory functions.
According to him, when such institutions and agencies do not have the basic tools, there is no magic to be done by them in achieving the mandate for which they were established.
In his speech, Marwa said after he assumed office five weeks ago, the agency had gone all out to deal with the reduction of drugs supply across the country.
He stated that there is too much criminality in Nigeria with insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and rape being caused by perpetrators under the use of drugs.
“Behind most of this criminality is the use of drugs. Unfortunately, this is one thing that does not distinguished between communities, ethnicity, religion, age or gender.
“The prevalence in Rivers State, actually, is 15 per cent. That is from the drug survey of the UNODC that was released recently. But it is not the worse, in fact, it is placed 14 in the country.
“But a state like Lagos has a prevalence of 33 percent. That, actually, means one out of every three Lagosians between the ages of 15 and 64 is taking something. That is terrible for a country such as ours. Concerted efforts are required to deal with it.”
He appealed to the Governor to consider setting up a drug Rehabilitation center and a State drug control committee.
In fulfillment of the Rivers State Governor’s pledge to enhance the operational capability of the State command of the NDLEA, the Chief of Staff Government House, Emeka Woke, on behalf of the governor, presented three brand new Hilux Vans to NDLEA Chairman.