fter a long wait the federal government this week announced the ban of syrup containing codeine substances in the country. After many years of calls by medical organizations and protest groups to either tighten regulations around the sale and manufacture of codeine, the government’s hand was forced this week by a investigative journalism documentary commissioned by the BBC Africa service. The documentary showed in glaring detail how young Nigerians are entrapped in the codeine addiction and how pharmaceutical companies are making ‘blood money’ by making these drugs available to addicts. As expected the federal government released a statement banning its production and the Consumer Protection Council has followed suit but it is not nearly enough to actually solve the inherent problem.
Banning of goods categorized as contraband in the country is easy to do as it involves releasing a statement while customs and other regulatory bodies go into mass arrest and detention of producers however banning codeine is not enough. The consumption of codeine is a product of a more pervasive problem and banning its production without tackling the reason why young Nigerians abuse it in the first place will get us nowhere.
Drug use has been glamourized in our media and pop culture. The country is incredibly hard on young Nigerians and the desperate need to escape this dystopian situation was what gave birth to codeine in the first place . Codeine however is just one of a myriad of ways young people get high; Marijuana, Sk, Paraga, Ponkriyon, Tramadol, Methylated Spirit are all rudimentary drugs that poor youth turn to as a way to get high.
The society we live in is a drug and alcohol driven society, our musicians sing about all these drugs and they enjoy massive airplay and visual downloads, in our movies they show it gleefully without the expected warnings, sellers of these items now sell it to underage children.
The federal government needs to start an aggressive public enlightenment to wage a war against this ideology, we need to ditch the workshops and seminars and take our activism to the streets. The prevalence of drug abuse is confirmation our favored methods . The massive sensitization needs to be done through the same medium that made it popular. The media, digital and physical most especially the entertainers, the same people that went to the studio to sing about codeine diet and science students must undo the harm they’ve done to unsuspecting youths in the society.
While the public enlightenment is going on, the government is expected to summon the necessary political will to ban the production of these products, political will is necessary because these industries pay billions as taxes as a result it will take extra zeal to shut them down . But it can be done.
The future generations of this country must be protected from sudden death and a drug impaired future.
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