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Reflecting on the Nigerian opioid crisis

“Practical wisdom is making the faults of others serve as beacons to ourselves.” On this, Nigeria needs work. The nation is now experiencing a preventable opioid (Tramadol) crisis—it is sobering and alarming. Given the current state of the nation’s healthcare system, we doubtlessly have a serious problem. For the youth, for the children, for the nation’s future, this is a war that cannot be lost, it should be treated as such.
Shine the light, sound the alarm, hold the culprits to account.
Fact: According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Nigerian government, the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 14.4 per cent of Nigerians used drugs last year. That is 14.3 million people aged 15 to 64. Our national percentage is more than twice the global average of 5.6 per cent. In the Lagos metropolis, the figure was 33 per cent. We have an emergency!

Knowledge is power. People know the high but not the ruinous darkness until it is too late. The public should be educated nonstop, the schools should teach about the dangers persistently, religious organisations should teach and help. All hands should be on deck.

We cannot afford to lose. As the saying goes: “The induction is good, from what has been to what may be.” Simply stated, if a thing has happened before, it can happen again. We must never forget history, never forget the blotch of the poison of avarice. We must recognise shackles under whatever guise they come, be they the kind that chain the limbs or those that bind the mind. We must expose and punish the greedy amongst us who profit off their brothers’ misery. We must expunge the foreigner who robs our people and feeds destruction.

Surely, the drugs have known origins. Our government should be honest and effective gatekeepers – regulate and enforce. Our people need jobs and not pills for unemployment. Our addicts, our brothers and sisters, need care and compassion, not shame for their suffering. I, in the comfort of my adopted home, must still be my brother’s keeper. I must never be indifferent.

It is said that “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” So, let the nation fight for every last one.

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