By Salisu Dambatta
The recent interception of a consignment of 43.11 kilogramms of illicit drug at the Tin Can Port, Lagos, worth over N32 billion by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), is a testimonial that the country has effective and selfless personnel that can and actually perform their roles in the public interest.
The fact that the seizure of the huge cocaine cargo from Brazil was probably done through a controlled delivery, indicate that the personnel involved in the exercise are genuinely committed to making contributions in freeing Nigeria from the menace of and the destructive effect of the widespread drug abuse in the country.
It is noteworthy, as stated by the Commander, Tincan Port command of NDLEA, Mr Sumaila Ethan, that the Tincan Port seizure came after similar interceptions of illicit and dangerous drugs at the Lagos and Abuja airports; and within the FCT, in Edo, Katsina, Nasarawa and Benue States’ Commands in the span of one month. A consignment of poisonous drugs estimated to be worth N200 million was equally seized by the NDLEA and Hisbah operatives at a house in Sabon Gari, Kano.
The NDLEA has a record of seizures of large consignments of illicit drugs. It can be recalled that 14,200 kilogrammmes of cocaine was seized at the same Tincan Port, which then NDLEA Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade said was the largest ever cocaine consignment seized in Africa and the fifth largest in the world at the time. Also 113,000 kilogrammmes of Cannabis and 323 acres of Cannabis plantations were destroyed by the Agency in 2015. While President George Bush commended Nigeria and the NDLEA for that feat, it is pleasant that the Regional Operations Manager of the United Kingdom Border Force of Europe and International (West Africa), Mr. Kris Hawksfield, has commended the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for making remarkable seizures in recent times.
The demonstration of a renewed vigour and high morale to serve the nation by ridding it of drug abuse by the NDLEA personnel, is a reflection of the dynamism in the leadership of the agency brought in by its new Chairman, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (retd), a reputable go-getter who excelled in previous national assignments. He was appointed Chairman of the agency less than two months ago by President Muhammadu Buhari, and the new direction he is charting in making the NDLEA work better for the good of Nigeria is manifesting.
Prior to his appointment as Chairman and Chief Executive of the NDLEA, President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 18, 2018, appointed General Buba Marwa as the Chairman of a Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse in the country.
In the course of that assignment, General Buba Marwa informed the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory that, a 2018 Survey on Drug Use in Nigeria showed that there were over 14 million Nigerians aged between 15 and 64 years who were actively involved in one form of drug abuse or the other. It was so pervasive in the country.
The survey discovered that the main drugs abused in the country comprised cannabis, epioids, cough syrup and tranquilizers. Others were cocaine, some prescription stimulants, solvents/inhalers and ecstasy. Those involved in abusing drugs and substances include students in secondary and tertiary institutions, rich individuals and people in responsible positions, including politicians, as confirmed in Kano State where some candidates in the recent local government elections were disqualified after failing a drug test conducted by the NDLEA.
Experts have listed many reasons that lead to such wanton drug and substance abuse in the country. They include, but not limited to peer pressure; identity crisis among adolescents; weakening moral, spiritual and social values and the influence of celebrities who serve as wrong role models, and the availability and easy access to cheap drugs.
Eventhough reports indicate that Nigeria is not among the countries with the worst drug abuse level in the world, it is instructive and regrettable that Australian researchers found out that betetween 149 million and 271 million people worldwide used an illicit drug at least once in 2009. This is sad.
On the whole, the NDLEA deservs the support of Nigerians as it discharges its key responsibilities as defined in the Act establishing it; namely to eliminate illicit drug trafficking and consumption in Nigeria; to deter all involvement in drugs by Nigerians and our guests, including importation, exportation, sale, transfer, purchase, cultivation, manufacture, extraction and possession. By so doing, Nigeria will continue to be outside the worst drug and substance abusing jurisdictions in the world.