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RE: DRUGS: AREWA MUST DEFEND ITSELF! (IV)

Alhamdu lilLah for the success so far. But we should know this critical fact – Nigerian Governments react to issues ONLY when international media focus on the matter, whatever the effort of local agitators. BBC Africa’s “Sweet, Sweet Codeine” has immensely moved our struggle forward. (If you missed it, search for it on YouTube). 

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The BBC documentary is being re-shown all over North in an attempt by NGOs to wake our people up, if they ever will. The Kano show takes place this Sunday, according to an invite received late Friday from one the greatest supporters of this Column, Dr. Ruqayya Nasir Sani, and Abubakar Sani Bunza, both of Global Shapers Community.

FG Bans Production of Codeine-Containing Syrups in Nigeria: “The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has directed…NAFDAC to ban with immediate effect further issuance of permits for importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations. Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole made this known on Tuesday. He said that the directive became necessary due to the gross abuse codeine usage has been subjected to in the country…”

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Haba Minister! Is it now that the FMOH became aware of this? Is it not a shame for a country whose youths are being destroyed by substance abuse to refuse to act until the media focus on it? Why did they take such a long time? Is it because their children are supposedly safely ensconced in schools abroad, or in Villas and Government Houses here? Haba!

Abdullahi Musa (kigongabas@gmail.com): This fight may look easy, but it is not. Most of our elite live on the notion of ‘in jifa ya tsallake kanka…’

Prof Moji Adeyeye DG NAFDAC, on Channels Sunrise Daily the other day, said: We (NAFDAC) are allowed into the seaports ONLY when invited by Customs. During one such invitation, we intercepted thirty three containers loaded with Tramadol disguised as ‘building materials’. Those containers WOULD HAVE HEADED DIRECTLY TO THE NORTH – TO YOLA, KANO, KADUNA ETC… (emphasis added). (‘Building Materials Headed for the North!’ Need one say more?)

A senior sister, top public servant and pharmacist, says: My take on the matter is that NAFDAC turned the other way when the pharmaceutical companies should be the targets to ensure their production quota is watched. This I noticed since 2010 when I saw plenty of used cough syrup packets in an area of Gusau, Zamfara State which some people were cutting and using to write upon during a certain national exercise. So many were the empty packets they saved lots of cardboard and foolscap. I was alarmed. I sent message through a colleague to NAFDAC since the companies producing these drugs are known. But the scourge has escalated further to all our major cities. Allah Ya kyauta. 

After codeine, we must focus now on Tramadol and other killer drugs. 

A certain Lagos-based medical doctor going by the hashtag ‘#IamDrTega’ wrote a long piece still making rounds on social media. She says interalia: “I found the video about codeine heart-breaking…Of a truth, I shudder! This brings me to my encounter with Tramadol in January. I am a medical doctor and always believed Tramadol is an analgesic. That mindset was erased when I sat down to have a heart to heart talk with a vivacious, full of life young man…He had come to me to ask if Tramadol had side effects. My response was even Paracetamol we take for headaches has side effects but as long as it wasn’t abused, then we could all hope to remain safe. But he wasn’t talking about Tramadol as I knew it. He brought out a 225mg Tramadol tablet. I am a doctor and prior to this I had never seen one. I never even knew they existed! I was familiar with 50mg and 100mg capsules but a 225mg tablet? No sire! Then he told me there were even 500mg tablets for those who took 1000mg tablets at once! To say I was shocked is an understatement…”

A Kano-based medic took the discussion further: “This detailed narrative is not exhaustive. Fortwin injection, i.e. pentazocine, is another common substance of abuse in our midst. Some few years back I had cause to push a family friend to admission at hospital upon confession and a desire to repent. This guy took as much as six ampoules a day, and that is 180mg, whereas the recommended dose is about 60mg…If one can talk to these addicts in confidence, one would really appreciate the strength of the drugs syndicate. The fight against drug abuse requires a very holistic approach and should be a business for all, considering drugs’ potential to strike at the root of society…

Another adds: No society I know of faced drug issue ‘sanely’! The authorities must rise to it. The community should be ‘mad’ on the street. We must match to the centres the drugs are manufactured and sold. We must pray and fast. Khutbahs must be on that for at least one month. We must put addicts in rehabs and compile data of those ‘cured’ and intervene in their lives. We allowed this to escalate. I refuse that it cannot be solved. Saudi Arabia and Thailand stood up to it ‘madly’. We must!

Dr. Saidu Samaila (saidu.kida@gmail.com): Sannu da fama! How are you and how is the academic activity coupled with your patriotic zeal and the righting of the wrongs being meted to our easy-trusting Northerners? Wish you the best.

Adamu Saleh Daurawa (salehdaurawa@gmail.com) Drugs kill, so the law must kill the traffickers. Laws should be amended to sentence to death all traffickers by hanging or firing squad. Wasn’t that the punishment PMB1 did in the 1980s? Isn’t that the punishment in sensible countries today? NDLEA must stop the practice of arresting and releasing or collecting monthly return, and any officer found abetting traffickers should be treated in the same manner with them. Abokin barawo…

Ya’u Isa (isahyau101@yahoo.com): Alhamdu lillah! At last, our cries have paid off! But we must not relent. One angle BBC revealed is culpability of drug companies. They should be the first to be sanctioned by government. If laws exist, all connivers should be severely punished. I hope it will be swift and all the culprits featured in the documentary (such as Madubuike of Lagos and his big pharma) and your Chukwumas of Funtua and Arinzes of Kano should be openly brought to book.

Meanwhile, Emzor Pharma founded by Dr. Stella Chinyelu Okoli has reacted to the BBC documentary saying, among other things: “…The member of staff depicted in the piece…[Chukwunonye Madubuike, Senior Business Executive] has since been dismissed and reported to the police for prosecution…”

Lawal Shehu (milshehu@gmail.com): Congratulations Mallam Bala! The FMOH has finally banned codeine containing syrups. Nevertheless, I’m baffled about the LOUD silence of our federal legislators. These are people known for wasting no time ‘summoning’ anyone that dares criticise their oversized egos; but are yet to conduct ‘public hearing’ into the whereabouts of seized massive consignments of substances of addiction which you have been canvassing for weeks. Maybe you should address your next memo to them because, unless those ‘missing’ items are found intact, then I’m afraid all labour remains in vain!

Arewa: “Your house is on fire and members of the family are frantically trying to extinguish it when, suddenly, someone from outside comes and throws a gallon of petrol on it. What do you do? Continue fighting the fire while that outsider continues to throw petrol on it? No! All of you must immediately fight the petrol-thrower FIRST, because your fire can never be killed when there is someone adding fuel to it.”

Dear National Assembly – how about a summons to a hearing? Dear BBC – please do another documentary on Tramadol!

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