The European Union is supporting Nigeria with €36m (N7.65bn) to help fight indiscriminate drug production, trafficking and use.
In his speech at the second national symposium on drugs and drug control held in Abuja, the EU’s Acting Head of Cooperation, Juan Urteaga-Casla, stated that the union was supporting the work done by Nigerian authorities, particularly the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC) as well as ministries of health.
According to the EU, the support was carried out through the project titled, ‘Response to drugs and related organised crime in Nigeria.’
The symposium was organised by the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse.
Urteaga-Casla said, “This project is funded by the European Union with €36m and is implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime over a period of five years. Through the project the Nigerian authorities as well as non-governmental organisations will aim at ambitious objectives.
“The objectives are to reinforce national anti-drug trafficking policy formulation, improve law enforcement capacity in drug control, tackle organised drug-related crime, as well as enhance drug use prevention, treatment and care services. In summary, better information, better capacity and better response will be achieved.”
The EU’s representative noted that the project would focus on the reduction in drug demand by working with different stakeholders in Nigeria, adding that the civil society would assist the scheme in effective mobilisation, training and capacity building.
Urteaga-Casla said, “We believe this will go a long way in strengthening the responses on the ground and in sustaining quality intervention beyond the current EU assistance to Nigeria. Civil society organisations will also be involved in providing direct assistance to rehabilitating drug users through a community-based treatment approach.
“We are supportive of such an approach that encourages taking services to the doorstep of drug users and their families, many of whom are reluctant and/or do not have the means to travel long distances to access necessary treatment.”
In his address, the symposium Coordinator and Director, CRISA, Prof. Isidore Obot, said one of the major aims of the conference was to assist participants to perform better in drug demand reduction.
“This will allow us to focus needed attention on the particular nature of the drug problem as it affects different parts of our country,” he said.