No doubt, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has been transformed from a dormant agency into a premier drug-fighting agency of the 21st century as a result of the determination of the agency to fight against drug use/abuse, selling, producing, exporting in the country.
The results achieved so far by NDLEA under the new leadership of Brig. Gen MB Marwa (Retd) has definitely opened doors for international support from France, Germany, EU, etc as well as commendations from local, national and global organisations for efforts to eradicate narcotic substances.
NDLEA, a federal government agency was established by Decree Number 48 of 1989 charged with eliminating the growing, manufacturing, selling, exporting and trafficking of narcotic substances. Before the emergence of Gen. Marwa on January 18th 2021 as the CCE of NDLEA, little or nothing has been heard about the agency and this is probably as a result of lack of motivation for the officers in terms of poor remuneration/funding from government, patrol vehicles, arms and ammunitions etc needed to fight the war against drugs in the society.
These factors mentioned led to the prevalence in the use/sale of narcotic substances. It is alarming because Nigeria which was a transit country for narcotic substances is now a user and producer of hard drugs thereby leading to the decertification of Nigeria by USA because the country (Nigeria) failed in its drug control policies as stated by member states and no efforts were made on time to curb it before getting out of hands.
Furthermore, factors such as poor economic status, peer group pressure, family disintegration and poor academic performance are commonly associated with drug abuse in Nigeria. Cannabis sativa popularly known as Indian hemp is the most widely used substance in Nigeria including tramadol, codeine, skunk, and crystal meth. According to UNODC report of 2018, 14.4% of the population in Nigeria, that is 14.3 million people between 15-64 years of age had used drugs which is alarming.
The inception of the new NDLEA boss brought about a seizure of over 3.4million kilograms of drugs across the country, forfeiture of assets and funds of arrested drug barons and more than 12,000 drug offenders arrested with 1,500 jailed by courts. The laudable achievements by the agency earned it the “Agency of the year 2021” by two major media organizations and other countless awards and recognition all to the leadership style of General Marwa.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari had applauded the activities of the NDLEA at a security meeting he presided over. This was disclosed by Major-General Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser(NSA) at a media briefing in May, 2021. Nigerians in general are of the view that if the agency is properly funded, a better salary and improved welfare package of the gallant officers of NDLEA, it will motivate them to work harder to flush and crush the drug cartels and also remove the country (Nigeria) from the global bad light of illicit drug market in the sight of the international community.
The fight against drugs is a collective responsibility of everyone in the society, not just the NDLEA, therefore, all hands must be on deck to eradicate the use, sale, and production of narcotic substances and psychoactive drugs by all stakeholders, especially the Nigerian public.
Adekunbi Lawal, a feminist and youth advocate, writes from Area 8 Garki, Abuja.