- SPN SUPPORTS MEASURES AGAINST ROGUE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES AND DRUG MERCHANTS BUT WARNS AGAINST TURNING THE WAR ON DRUG TO A WAR ON YOUNG PEOPLE
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Youth Wing supports all measures against rogue pharmaceutical companies, chemist shops and crooked drug merchants and gangs responsible for the prevalent drug epidemic in the country but we warn against turning the war on drugs to a war on young people.
We make this warning conscious of the fact that previous onslaught on marijuana use have always been turned into an opportunity by corrupt police, NAFDAC, NDLEA and security officials to stigmatize young people, arrest people at will and slam them into detention only to gain their freedom after paying bribes.
Already illegal police raids in poor communities are causing almost daily deaths of young people across the country. Many of these young people are arrested or shot by corrupt police and security officials just for walking at a particular hour, for dressing in a certain way or for refusing to give a bribe. This happens while the real criminals walk free. The Offa robbery and how police reportedly took a bribe of N400, 000 from the armed-robbers days before they unleashed mayhem is a clear testimony to how these so-called raids are not meant to catch criminals but instead to make income for corrupt police officials. Therefore, making the war on drugs to follow similar pattern of illegal police/NDLEA raids, stigmatization and arrest at will without regard for human rights will only worsen the already tense situation in poor communities and might even provoke riots and violent reprisals.
To be clear, the President Buhari capitalist government as well as previous anti-poor government are all responsible for the growing menace of drug usage and addiction by young people. Their anti-poor capitalist policies which have deepened inequality and made public education and good jobs inaccessible for the majority as well as the profit-motive of pharmaceutical companies and rogues are the driving forces behind the drug menace and other social crises like prostitution, gangs and crimes.
Today, young people are more anxious, hopeless and uncertain about their future. A lot of working class and poor families are breaking apart following sudden loss of income by parents arising either from retrenchment, irregular payment of salary, demolition of markets and shops. Even when parents die from accidents or sickness, there are no provisions by the state to provide for children left behind. Such neglected children tend to find succor in drugs. The social crises will continue to get worse unless the working class, the youth and the poor rally round the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) to begin to struggle against these anti-poor policies that drives hopelessness and ultimately for the overthrow of the capitalist system.
In the war on drugs, the government must be clear about who the enemies are. The enemies are the rogue pharmaceuticals, chemist shops, complicit officials of NAFDAC, NDLEA, Police, customs and other security agencies and criminal merchant networks who cooperate in vast concentric ring of cartels to ensure these dangerous drugs get to our streets. Young people are the victims and ought not to be criminalized.
Therefore, instead of treating drug users and addicts as criminals, they ought to be treated as people who need assistance to drop a bad and potentially dangerous habit. This means adequately-funded and equipped rehabilitation centres and well trained personnel ought to be established in communities alongside a campaign involving government agencies, civil society, trade unions especially the unions in the education sector, youth groups and students unions to counter this growing scourge. It also means proper funding of public education and expansion of school facilities to get all young people of school-age back into school, good well-paying jobs for graduates and an end to inequality and grinding poverty. If 10.5 million school-age children continue to be out of school and tens of millions university graduates continue to go without jobs, the war against drugs cannot be won.
In addition, the SPN supports sanction including heavy fines against pharmaceutical companies, chemist shops and any outlets found after thorough investigation to be connected to the illicit drug. We also support immediate arrest and prosecution of the criminal merchants of deaths responsible for selling these drugs in schools and communities.
The alleged involvement of Emzor pharmaceutical Industry Ltd, Bioraj Pharmaceutical Ltd and Peace Standard Pharmaceutical Ltd in this illicit trade shows how profit trumps concern for people’s health. This is not just a local reality, actually it is an international phenomenon that big pharmaceutical companies are complicit in the drug trade.
This is one of the main reasons we of the SPN hold that health related services like pharmaceuticals ought not to be left in the hands of private merchants who are primarily driven by profits and not any ethical and safety concerns. We demand a publicly-funded and run health sector including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies under the control and management of workers and the public in order to ensure that profit is not prioritized over safety and health.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto
National Youth Leader