A new podcast by YouthRISE Nigeria is set to open up urgent dialogue about drug policy in the country. The premiere episode — which can be found here — explores the experience of a former prosecutor who convicted over 17,000 people on drug offences during his time in with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Nigeria.
Drug Policy Unscripted, which launched its first episode on 6th March, is a monthly podcast dedicated to advancing thought-provoking discussions on a wide range of topical issues relating to drug policy, and the intersection of social justice, gender, public health, human rights, politics, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
YouthRISE Nigeria are keen to amplify the drug policy reform effort by offering a fresh perspective on issues relating to drug use and drug control. The podcast hopes to shape the narrative on drug policy and address the negative perception of people who use drugs.
Nigeria is said to have a growing drug problem. In response, the government implements a highly repressive drug policy, prescribing 15 to 25 years imprisonment for drug offences. The criminal justice response to drug use has resulted in and reinforces negative perceptions of people who use drugs, and a high degree of stigma and discrimination at the interpersonal and state level. There is also a wide knowledge gap among stakeholders and the public, with the dominant narrative on drug use rooted in myths and misconceptions. Hence, this podcast could not have come at a better time.
It is imperative that drug policy is not viewed in isolation but instead regarded as an integral aspect of sustainable development. Drug Policy Unscripted will feature honest discussions with drug policy reform advocates, development professionals and various state and non-state actors to develop a coherence between drug policy and other development issues in Nigeria and to promote equitable and humane drug policy reform.
* YouthRISE Nigeria is an advocacy and service based organization with a mandate to promote human rights, access to quality healthcare, harm reduction, social justice and development for young people especially those vulnerable to drug use. Through strategic engagement with stakeholders and communities, we continue to champion drug policy reform and ensure better health outcomes for underserved communities.