Prioritizing public health responses in Nigerian drug control policy
Nigeria’s drug control policy, a throwback to colonial dangerous drugs control legislations, is remarkable for its reliance on severe sanctions to curb drug offences. The establishment of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in 1990 took drug control in Nigeria to a crescendo. The agency amalgamates the functions of supply control and demand reduction in a highly-centralized bureaucracy. Although it has been successful in the seizure of drugs and arrest and punishment of offenders, its impact on drug use and related problems is negligible. the success is tainted by rampant corruption and the cost of law enforcement. The development of a comprehensive drug policy which prioritizes demand reduction through public health measures such as prevention and treatment is hampered by the bureaucracy of drug law enforcement, whose direction cannot be changed without altering the structure of the organization. The devolution of functions through the creation of a new agency on drug demand reduction is a step in the right direction.
Keywords: drugs, policy, public health, law enforcement, Nigeria