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Marwa’s unassailable two-year record at NDLEA and the raging drug war

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Some Nigerians, who perhaps doubted the deep-rooted scourge of drug abuse and illicit substances in the country prior to the coming of retired Brig.-Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, must have been reeling in shock during the recent public presentation of his score card in office in two years following the high number of arrests and huge seizures recorded during the period.


Indeed, the astonishing outcome of the renewed war on drugs these two years, out of the 33-year-old history of the agency, which can be directly traced to the strong determination, commitment, professionalism and hard work of the officers, men and women under the watch of a focused leadership include, the arrest of 26,458 drug traffickers, among them, 34 barons as well as the successful prosecution of 3,733 offenders, who were convicted with various jail terms in court. But 2,346 of those convictions were recorded in 2022 alone, representing the highest ever in one year.


We wholeheartedly commend the agency’s current management team and employees for the historic feats attained in just 24 months, which also include the seizures of about 5,700 tons of illicit substances nationwide which together with recovered cash were worth over N500 billion; discovery and destruction of 784.908 hectares of cannabis farms across 12 states; tremendous gains in drug demand reduction efforts resulting in counselling and rehabilitating 19, 401 persons, majority of whom went through brief interventions.


However impressive these attainments may seem so far, one of the major revelations of the escalating battle against drug abuse and illegal substances is that Marwa’s overhaul of NDLEA involving irreversible new journey of rebirth, reformation, restructuring and resurgence of the system, strategy and staff had paid off handsomely even in the face of daunting challenges and existential threats experienced across most sectors of the economy such that the organization is rated by experts as one of the most productive and efficient public institutions under President Muhammadu Buhari administration.


Similarly, we are of the strong view that the underestimation of the drug menace and the seeming unimpressive performance of successive CEOs in battling the scourge decisively, which resulted in the free flow of the banned substances before the coming of the incumbent Chairman, had culminated in several negative scenarios including an unacceptably high crime rates and worsening insecurity such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism still confronting the country with devastating consequences for the economy.


For instance, the findings of the 2018 National Drug Use and Health Survey, which put Nigeria’s drug use prevalence at 14.4 per cent one of the highest in the world, clearly portrayed the magnitude of the scourge and the urgent need to contain the menace in the national interest immediately Marwa came on board in January 2021. It is also note worthy that his tenure as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) paved the way for a radical overhaul of the NDLEA and ensured that he arrived there

with a blueprint and strategic action plan.


Significantly too, his strength of character, discipline, honesty, integrity and wealth of experience garnered as former administrator of Borno and Lagos States, top diplomat came to bear on the assignment which saw him hitting the ground running upon assumption of duty and in forging a purposeful synergy with sister organisations, such as the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Immigration, Customs, the Department of State Services, DSS, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, the FRSC, among others in prosecuting the war against drugs.


It is, therefore, not surprising that the incumbent leadership, which believes strongly that ‘’discipline is the soul of an Army, makes small number formidable; procures success to the weak”, according to one of the famous quotes of George Washington, the first President of the United States, has sufficiently proved to all that it is totally committed to achieving the NDLEA’s Mission statement: “To deploy all resources for the total eradication of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, by cutting off the supply of illicit drugs and bringing suppliers to book; reducing the demand for illicit drugs and other substances of abuse and tracing and recovering drug-related proceeds through effective drug law enforcement”.


Similarly, Marwa’s amazing feats so far, in our view, has further corroborated the determination and doggedness of the current management team and employees not to leave any stone unturned in its bid to make the organization “become the most proactive and leading Drug Law Enforcement Agency in Africa”, one of the best in the world as well as contribute to the creation and maintenance of a positive image for Nigeria in line with its Vision.


It is against this backdrop that we challenge all patriots and public- spirited Nigerians to view the current battle against drug abuse and illicit drugs as a personal assignment that must be won as well as whole-heartedly collaborate with the agency as it began the journey of the third year of the renewed war on drugs in order to raise the momentum, surpass its achievements over the past two years and possibly enthrone a drug-free society in the immediate future.


Above all, Marwa’s public declaration of the agency’s firm resolve to build on the existing professionalism of officers and personnel, ensure their welfare, maintain best practices, intensify training, acquiring additional fire power, mobility and more intelligence-driven operations should be totally supported by all, considering the necessary solid groundwork already laid by the leadership for better performance in  2023 and beyond.


The planned recruitment of no fewer than 5,000 new intakes as narcotics officers and retraining of officers without doubt, should be regarded as a step in the right direction and capable of further strengthening the institution while the CEO’s stern warning to drug cartels and barons to jettison their illegal trade or be prepared for tougher time this year should be taken seriously by these merchants of death given the agency’s renewed war on drugs.


We further canvass prompt release of capital allocation in this year’s federal budget by the Ministry of Finance to enable the agency meets its monetary obligations to suppliers as well as execute its ongoing development projects including the construction of barracks while the National Assembly should fast track the necessary legislative process for the smooth passage of the anticipated amendment of the NDLEA Act expected to strengthen the arm of the agency in charge of drug law enforcement.


It is also on record that the tireless and unflinching support of President Muhammadu Buhari, described as the driving force for change in the country’s drug use narrative, the favourable disposition of the National Assembly, through the two committees in the Senate and House of Representatives, which oversight the Agency, Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, foreign partners and sister agencies among others, have gone a long way in achieving a complete turnaround of the NDLEA and at the heart of its string of successes.


Established by Decree No. 48 of 29th December 1989, the promulgation of the law  was a direct response to the rising ugly trend in the demand for and trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which regrettably, adversely affected the international image of Nigerians and Nigeria in the 1980s even as the trafficking of illicit substances had become an organised criminal activity that undermines the security, social, economic and technological development of the country.


Given its current sustained Offensive Action and the assurances by the Chairman to cut off the supply chain of hard drugs from other countries into Nigeria, we believe in the capability of the NDLEA to making the country truly safe from drug abuse and illicit substances.

Even though a drug-free society may seem like a tall order, citizens should fulfill their civic obligations to the organization by volunteering relevant information regarding the activities of drug barons and traffickers to further tackle the menace posed by trafficking and abuse of substances in the country.


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