Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has identified the prevalence of illicit drugs as the root cause of rising insecurity in the country.
Wike, however, lamented that the Federal Government was dissipating its energy fighting the manifest symptoms instead of holistically addressing the major cause of the crimes.
The governor promised to collaborate with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to set up a Drug Rehabilitation Centre in the state.
Wike spoke on Tuesday when he received the Chairman and Chief Executive Office, NDLEA, Brig-Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, people had often thought that the fight against criminality in the country should be targeted only at bandits and kidnappers with less attention paid to the use of illicit drugs, which he said remained the root cause of such crimes.
He said if concerted efforts were made towards achieving a reduction in the level of illicit drug in the society, crime rate would reduce.
He said: “It’s most unfortunate that people think that fighting crime is only when you fight bandits, and kidnappers. But, nobody wants to understand the root cause of most of these crimes”.
He said persons engaged in criminal acts such as rape and kidnapping, were often under the influence of illicit hard drugs.
Wike pointed out the need to look at the fight against criminality holistically across the country with equal attention given to both drug influence and the crime perpetrators.
He said: “Any government worth its salt would not hesitate to support the agency in order to tackle the issue of drug.
“For choosing Rivers State first as your first point of call shows how you take the State, and remembering that this is where your career started after your graduation from the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA).
“As for the rehabilitation centre, we will work that out with the Commander in the State, to see how we can set up a Drug Rehabilitation Centre in the state. We will also give you three Hilux Vans immediately to enhance performance of the agency.”
Wike further decried the state of most institutions and agencies established by the Federal Government saying they were not provided with requisite working tools to enable them perform their statutory functions.
In his speech, Marwa said after he assumed office five weeks ago, the agency had gone all out to ensure deal reduction of drugs supply across the country.
He said that there was much criminality in Nigeria with insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and rape being caused by perpetrators under the use of drugs.
He said: “Behind most of this criminality is the use of drugs. Unfortunately, this is one thing that does not distinguished between communities, ethnicity, religion, age or gender.
“The prevalence in Rivers State, actually, is 15 percent. That is from the drug survey of the UNODC that was released recently. But it is not the worse, in fact, it is placed 14 in the country.
“But a state like Lagos has a prevalence of 33 percent. That, actually, means one out of every three Lagosians between the ages of 15 and 64 is taking something. That is terrible for a country such as ours. Concerted efforts are required to deal with it.”
He appealed to the governor to consider setting up a drug rehabilitation center and a state drug control committee.
In fulfilment of the Rivers State governor’s pledge to enhance the operational capability of the NDLEA, the Chief of Staff Government House, Emeka Woke, on behalf of the governor, presented three brand new Hilux Vans to NDLEA Chairman.