The Nigerian Senate led by Dr Bukola Saraki has again reiterated its revolve to ensure that the two draft Bills for legislation to tackle the increasing drug abuse menace among youths in the Nigerian society become law.
The proposed Bills are National Drug Control Bill and National Mental Health Bill.
The Drug Control Bill seeks to clarify the mandate and strengthen the capacity of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to eradicate the illicit production, and trafficking of controlled substances.
It also seeks to establish a central mechanism to facilitate collaboration among law enforcement, regulatory and public health authorities in line with the National Drug Control Policy.
The Bill focuses on proactive law enforcement and regulatory measures towards the eradication of the illicit importation, production and trafficking of controlled substances.
It will criminalise the diversion, distribution or otherwise dispensing of controlled substances without a prescription or license.
On mental health bill, the statement noted that, in recognition of the fact that psychosocial issues are the key drivers for the abuse of psychoactive substance, the bill was crafted to ensure that standard facilities were available in every state to provide mental health and substance abuse services.
The proposed law guarantees the protection of the rights of people with mental illness and stipulates that mental health practitioners and facilities no longer engage in practices that are harmful to people with mental health and substance use disorders.
With full cognizance of the poor number of mental health practitioners in the country with the ratio of practitioners at one psychiatrist to 1.6 million people, the bill makes provision for quality mental health and substance abuse services such as rehabilitation centers available for women and adolescents, who are an underserved segment of the population.
Saraki, had at a two-day roundtable in Kano, said: “If we continue to be a society that ignores laws and do as we wish, we are not far from being a failed state.
“But in the Senate, we are firm in ensuring that what is right is done to protect the nation. We want to see here before we finish the two-day roundtable in Kano that some pharmacies are closed down for violating the rules. Then we will know we are serious about it.
“There is no sense in calling agencies to fight drugs when we are not funding them. It doesn’t make sense.
“We must make a commitment that we are ready to do away with these problems. We should not be discouraged in the fight, as political leaders, we must have political will in the fight.”