Home Community Insights SPECIAL REPORT: 5 Years of Sponsoring Concerns on Drug Abuse in Nigeria

SPECIAL REPORT: 5 Years of Sponsoring Concerns on Drug Abuse in Nigeria

SPECIAL REPORT: 5 Years of Sponsoring Concerns on Drug Abuse in Nigeria

Like other countries throughout the world, Nigeria is not immune to the influx and outflow of various illicit narcotics. From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, a large number of illicit substances have reportedly been confiscated and burned during the last three decades. Several arrests and prosecutions have also been made. Despite these efforts, the drug addiction problem has yet to be reduced or eliminated completely. This has resulted in diverse reactions from various stakeholders around the country. 

Mutiu Iyanda Lasisi, a master student in the Critical Media Studies programme at the Media Communications Department of the Faculty of Creative Industries, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation, Moscow, and his colleague at the Department of Population and Development, Mustapha Adeniyi Adeitan, conducted media analysis of stakeholder concerns between 2016 and 2020. 

The duo used three major national dailies as data sources, The Guardian, The Punch, and The Vanguard, and focused on cause, consequence, solution, and treatment concerns, as well as narcotics categories stated by stakeholders in relation to the concerns. From the three newspapers, a total of 6, 565 concerns were identified from 4, 767 quotes collected from 1, 214 news stories covering the study period. Peer influence, parental care, unemployment, and depression were identified as cause concerns. Domestic violence, sexual assaults, impaired driving, rape, impaired judgment, exhibiting mood swings, life-threatening health problem, strained healthcare system, threatening family coexistence, and endangering educational settings are all potential consequences.  

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Throughout the period, stakeholders focused their attention on social welfare, rehabilitation, collaboration, criminalization, prohibition and prosecution, and decriminalization as solution concerns, while ethnic vilification, stigmatization, dangerous use, addiction, and city focus served as treatments. Looking at various concerns, researchers concluded that stakeholders-sponsored concerns tend to fix users and other actors in illicit drug use and trading rather than addressing the problem holistically. In other words, stakeholders and the three newspapers expressed concerns about the likelihood of increased antagonism against users and traders. 

The examination of the data indicates that the journey begins with a panoramic view of the dominant concerns that pervade the narrative. Depression, unemployment, and peer influence emerge as formidable factors interwoven with the fabric of drug abuse. The newspapers and stakeholders, it seems, recognize the intricate dance between societal challenges, mental health, and external pressures that contribute to the vulnerability of individuals.

Exhibit 1: Concerns sponsored by year

Note: The chart is publicly available for interaction [here]

Familial Dynamics and Legal Philosophies

Amidst the myriad of concerns, one spotlight shines brightly on parental care. Here, the newspapers and stakeholders cast parents as pivotal influencers in the fight against drug abuse. This concern, like a guiding beacon, emphasizes the importance of proactive measures within families, advocating for a nurturing environment as the cornerstone of prevention. As the narrative unfolds, a tension surfaces in the opposing concerns of criminalization and decriminalization. The fervent debate echoes through the pages, mirroring a societal struggle between strict legal measures and a more lenient, rehabilitative approach. The dichotomy leaves policymakers at a crossroads, pondering the delicate balance between punishment and healing.

Exhibit 2: Specific concerns sponsored by stakeholder in the newspapers

Note: The chart is publicly available for interaction [here]

Exploring Social Realms and Collaborative Symphony

Venturing further, the social concerns come into focus. Social welfare and rehabilitation emerge as poignant concerns, underscoring the newspapers’ call for comprehensive approaches. Here, society is urged to extend a helping hand, recognizing that drug abuse is not merely a legal issue but a complex societal challenge requiring multifaceted solutions. A harmonious note resonates through the concern of collaboration. Newspapers and stakeholders articulate a powerful melody, advocating for the synergy of governmental bodies, communities, and non-governmental organizations. In this symphony, unity becomes the key to effective intervention and prevention, transcending individual efforts.

Confronting Prejudices

In this narrative wall-hanging, stigmatization and ethnic vilification emerge as darker threads. The newspapers shine a light on societal biases, urging for a narrative shift. The call is clear – combat stigma, avoid unfair vilification of specific ethnic groups, and foster a more compassionate understanding of those grappling with drug abuse.

Exhibit 3: Dominant aspects of the social reality accentuated by stakeholder using fixing deviants approach

Note: The chart is publicly available for interaction [here]

Exhibit 4: Dominant aspects of the social reality accentuated by stakeholder using solution approach

Note: The chart is publicly available for interaction [here]

Policy Crossroads

The narrative reaches a critical juncture when traversing the concerns of prosecution and prohibition. While stakeholders and newspapers advocate for stringent legal actions, the ongoing discourse on decriminalization hints at a potential paradigm shift. Policymakers are left to grapple with the complexities, weighing the scales between punitive measures and a more rehabilitative ethos.

As we conclude this narrative exploration, the call echoes for a holistic approach. Through collaboration, the dismantling of societal prejudices, and a commitment to evidence-based interventions, Nigeria can navigate the complex mosaic of drug abuse. This journey invites policymakers, communities, and individuals to engage in a collective effort, forging a narrative that embraces resilience, rehabilitation, and compassion in the face of the challenges posed by substance misuse.

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