…it is tragic that Governor Ganduje has refused to focus on the social needs of the people of Kano and is instead expending vast amounts of money and energy in shutting out Emir Sanusi from leadership. Clearly, the tragedy of Kano today is that the dark powers of patriarchy, illiteracy and poverty have found their champion in Governor Ganduje.


Synopsis

Kano, and indeed Nigeria, is still under shock over the capricious and arbitrary act orchestrated against a cornerstone of Nigeria’s political heritage – the emirate and emir of Kano on May 8. Acting in manifest bad faith, without observing due process or conducting any public hearing, Governor Ganduje worked with the State House of Assembly to illegally destroy 1000 years of history through the establishment of the so-called new emirates of Bichi, Rano, Gaya and Karaye. There is no reasonable, or significant explanation for this attack on political culture and tradition other than the governor’s irrational determination to hit at a leader he does not like. Meanwhile, there are serious social and economic crisis confronting Kano that require urgent attention from the government. In this bulletin, we are focusing on the growing drug addiction crisis in the State.

Problem

In recent years, Nigeria’s homes and streets have come under threat from the rising menace of substance abuse. An alarming epidemic of drug abuse has developed in many States and Kano is the most affected place. Drug abuse has become a “ticking time bomb” and a good future for our children requires governments to develop effective policies and invest in addressing the crisis. Nigeria has transformed from being a transit point for cocaine and heroin going to Europe and North America to a country with a massive problem of drug use. Central to Kano’s current drug crisis is the non-medical use of over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs, namely opioids such as tramadol and codeine, that are having a disastrous effect on huge swathes of the population. It is estimated that as many as three million bottles of codeine syrup are consumed every single day in just two states – Kano and Jigawa. Emerging data shows that certain states are disproportionately afflicted by this epidemic. Kano State is placed as the most affected by drug abuse in the country, where analysts have suggested that between 50 to 70 per cent of the youth are engaged in substance abuse. There are thousands of drug distribution points all over the State and virtually no street is exempted.

The rise in drug abuse has resulted in dire social and economic consequences for all those involved. Drug abuse among husbands and wives is destroying family life and divorce rates are growing. Crime is also growing as people seek avenues to fund their destructive habits. The drug habit is also driving economic productivity further in its downward spiral.


The explanation for the excessive drug abuse in Kano is simple. The economy of the State has collapsed. The State, which was the shining star in Northern Nigeria in terms of commerce and industry, has become a shadow of its former self. Industry has collapsed and commerce has shrunk. The consequence for Kano is massive unemployment and underemployment, with the idle young population and indeed many of the older ones becoming depressed and hence seeking solace in drugs. As drug abuse spreads, crime and other social vices have been rising, whilst thuggery and violence have become central pillars of the contemporary political culture. The rise in drug abuse has resulted in dire social and economic consequences for all those involved. Drug abuse among husbands and wives is destroying family life and divorce rates are growing. Crime is also growing as people seek avenues to fund their destructive habits. The drug habit is also driving economic productivity further in its downward spiral.

Despite the severity of the epidemic in Kano, the State government has not developed a comprehensive policy programme to address the crisis. The State is not even engaged in significant public education programmes to induce change. There is no attempt to implement rehabilitation programmes with sufficient scope to confront the crisis. The few programmes that have been implemented by the State governor have reportedly been corrupted and are only accessible to high income families. The lack of adequate care facilities has played a huge part in the speed with which this epidemic has taken hold.

The issues pushing people into drugs must be carefully studied and pathways to addressing the crisis prioritised and addressed by Governor Ganduje. Unemployment, insurgency and corruption are all contributing factors to the disenfranchisement that is at the heart of this epidemic.


Damage Control

In 2018, it looked like the tide was changing. A report by the BBC in April prompted a wider outcry around addiction in Nigeria and exposed the sheer scale of the problem in the country. Harrowing scenes of young men and women chained to the floor of the dilapidated Dorayi Rehabilitation Centre in Kano outraged many and led to a government ban on codeine. Yet, over a year later, law enforcement agencies are still struggling to cope with the sheer scale of codeine abuse in the region. Clearly, no meaningful progress has been made in Kano, or Nigeria as a whole, to address the desperate shortage of available treatment options for drug users in the country. Whilst treatment and additional care will go a long way in tackling the epidemic, this is not the only aspect that must be addressed. If a patient returns to his village, with no access to education, work and therefore prospects, it won’t take long for addiction to resume. If treatment is not coupled with a wider drive for development, then no significant headway will be made.

The issues pushing people into drugs must be carefully studied and pathways to addressing the crisis prioritised and addressed by Governor Ganduje. Unemployment, insurgency and corruption are all contributing factors to the disenfranchisement that is at the heart of this epidemic. We reiterate once again that it is tragic that Governor Ganduje has refused to focus on the social needs of the people of Kano and is instead expending vast amounts of money and energy in shutting out Emir Sanusi from leadership. Clearly, the tragedy of Kano today is that the dark powers of patriarchy, illiteracy and poverty have found their champion in Governor Ganduje. For too long political jostling has been prioritised over the well-being of the citizens of Kano. It is now time for serious action to be taken before irreversible damage is afflicted on the State. Currently, Kano is faced with a huge dilemma – a self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and unemployment is fanning the flames of drug abuse, which in turn, as the problem grows to epidemic proportions, further inhibits the development of the State. Coupled with the inadequate treatment facilities and the lack of political will to reverse the situation, it is fast spiralling into a state of emergency. Governor Ganduje needs to re-focus his priorities.

Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Ismail Ahmed Esq
Sa’a Bako
Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Dr. Ayesha Imam
Zahra Nwabara
Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Fatima Wali-Abdurrahman
Eng. Y. Z. Ya’u