The appointment of an energetic General cum consummate Politician, Mohammed Buba Marwa, to an Organization that remains a caricature of itself for several years, is a step in the right direction.
As the popular saying, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step’. Maiden meeting with States Commanders and Units Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA on Monday 25 January 2021 at Headquarters in Abuja recorded General Buba Marwa’s first step into a journey of recovery and rescue mission for the emergence of a new face of NDLEA.
The meeting convened by General Marwa himself in his capacity as a brand new Chairman of the Agency was a clear demonstration of high-level experience and professionalism.
Apart from surprises that sprung up about the Agency and issues generates from the meeting, it has been the first of its kind towards building synergy between the Office of the Chairman and States Commanders and Units Heads.
It also creates a platform for formal interactions and channels of receiving first-generation information about an Organization which is legitimately vested with a lot of powers to enforce laws on drug trafficking and addiction.
Dealing with drug barons and carrying out rehabilitation scheme but become a toothless bulldog over the years.
Position of things at NDLEA particularly the inability of Officers to function as expected and their failure to carry out the Agency’s mandate as prescribed by law are unbecoming and getting worse by the day.
The current status of the Organization is pathetic and unfortunate indeed. So many pressing issues were ignored for too long.
What really happened can be described as ‘post-viral fatigue syndrome to human metabolism.’ Meaning the Agency has been extremely weak and absolutely ineffective.
Morales of Staff and their enthusiasm are at the lowest ebbs and faced with obsolete equipment and weapons. They are grossly unfunded, accrued liabilities and poor remuneration package.
Sad, quite sadly to note that NDLEA is in a big quagmire for a long time. This is an Agency that impacted positively for many years and had captured enough grounds for consolidation in Nigeria.
Its services were acknowledged and known to be with prompt response to issues on drugs trafficking and addiction even from overseas.
You may recall the authoritative disposition of late General Musa Bamaiyi who put the Agency on the map. His frequent clampdown on drug barons and Addicts were heavy and came with positive results.
Recall also the boldness and courage of NDLEA Officers at that time and their determination by winning battles against criminals.
The huge success recorded in dismantling drug cartel networks and massive arrest carried out in field operations were numerous.
We should remember the power they wielded, the respect they have commanded and the support they enjoyed from Nigerian citizens over the years on the grounds of their boldness and enthusiasm.
Faced with a lot of constraints, the story of NDLEA is a different one today. Things are no longer the same as the Agency in terms of resources and personnel.
No State Commander can carry out a result-oriented operation due largely to lack of equipment and resources. The Headquarters itself didn’t have the financial capabilities to support State operations and training.
The above scenarios exposed the widespread activities of drug pushing and its consumption nationwide as well as the ineffectiveness of NDLEA.
Production of marijuana and other narcotics are ongoing in many towns and villages by farmers in the country unhindered.
The production which is on large scale can be arguably compared with the production of local rice, if not more in monetary value in Nigeria.
Demand and supply are being sustained and encouraged by the high rate of consumption and lack of law enforcement.
In fact, Nigeria is rated 3rd among the Countries with a high record of consumption in the World and number one in Africa. In terms of production, Nigeria has insignificantly considered an epicentre and counted as big manufacturing giants that attract foreigners in a large number.
Incentives for the production were supported by large markets provided by the Northern States of Nigeria and some African Countries particularly Cameron, Chad, Niger and Libya coupled with the cheap labour offered by Nigeria. The inability of NDLEA to provide control mechanism and enforcement, as well as access to free trade, are major factors responsible for this menace.
Nigerian porous borders have allowed possible and uncontrolled exportation of marijuana and other illicit drugs worth hundreds of millions of dollar.
In a month, Exporters make about one trillion naira in the illegal trade.
Jos, Plateau State remains the gateway with a previous record of 50 Million Naira worth of drugs and marijuana conveyed to places mentioned above from major cultivating States of Edo, Delta, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and other Southern parts of the Country every day.
Fortunately, this large supply had been drastically reduced and the business frustrated with the deployment in 2017 of a new active Commander to Plateau State.
The Commander’s consistent operation is not only result-oriented but had compelled some drug barons migrated to other businesses.
Last year, the current Commander had made seizures and destroyed illicit drugs to the tune of 17 tons estimate at 900 Million Naira in Jos at a big ceremony that attracted top brass from the Headquarters. Other dignitaries at the occasion include Executive Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Simon Bako Lalong, Officials of the State government and Heads of sister Organizations.
There was a similar exercise in Borno and Bauchi States Command where drugs worth millions of naira were also destroyed.
These destructions done to their nefarious activities, discouraged the drugs Traffickers to scale up the illegal business.
The consequences of neglecting NDLEA from carrying out its primary responsibilities and the consumption of illicit drugs in Nigeria are many.
1. The proliferation of illegal Assembly of Youths called ‘Yan daba’ in Kano, Jigawa and Katsina States and their counterparts ‘Sara suka’, ‘Ecomog’ and ‘Area Boys’ in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Sokoto and Kebbi States are results of awful consumption of illicit drugs in the North. Government is fully aware of the activities of these miscreants and what they are capable of doing because of their notorious disposition.
2. It’s terrifying to note that 9 million youths are out of school and 7.3 million of the total are into drugs trafficking and or its consumption. 85 per cent of youths in the North are not gainfully employed. Some are being motivated by selfish Politicians.
3. Illicit drugs are in high supply in Schools including Tertiary Institutions and Universities, except few private Universities. Its abuses in those Institutions appear to be normal and continue to grow unchecked.
4. The current trend and its tolerance are ongoing in many Hinterlands and Urban areas across the Country.
5. Married Women and Young ladies in large number are also into drugs. Perhaps, this ugly trend had hampered girl child education with over 30 million out of School in the North.
In fact, drugs trafficking and addiction have increased the insecurity situation in the North and Nigeria in general. Time and space may not permit an elaborate explanation of the consequences.
These and many more are challenges confronting the new Chairman, General Mohammad Buba Marwa.
In my next article about other constraints of NDLEA; some seizures in billions and arrest of big barons that were made recently as well as suggestions on the way forward will be reflected.
Also, looking at the personality profile of General Buba Marwa for clarity of exposition vice-a-vice the national assignment handed down to him.
GOD save Nigeria!