Towards eradicating drug addiction in Nigeria

Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa, Chairman of NDLEA

It is an incontrovertible fact that Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Rtd) was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 16th of January, 2021, as the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to reposition the drug enforcement law and bring it to world standard which he has been doing to the admiration of most Nigerians.

There is no gainsaying that before Marwa mounted the saddle as the Chief Drug Law Enforcement Officer of the Federation, the agency suffered turbulent times and deterioration that hampered the war against the menace of drug abuse in the nation. His coming on board brought a positive scope and direction of work and duty towards giving offenders a bloody nose. While delivering his inaugural address at the NDLEA Headquarters upon assumption of duty in Abuja, Marwa said, “that the agency would put equal efforts in drug reduction as contained in the NDLEA ACT and will develop a strategy of work to meet the objectives in the National Drug Control Master plan of 2021 to 2025, as a roadmap”.

To reawaken the consciousness of people and show seriousness in his new national assignment,  he sent stern warning to all those who have taken into the occupation of drug abuse as being normal, such as trade of importation, exportation, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, trafficking, sales and consumption of illicit substances to desist or face the wrath of the law.

Gen. Marwa who brought sanity to Lagos State as Military Administrator is a man who has continuously succeeded where others have failed. He was born in September 9, 1953 in Kaduna, the then capital of old Northern region of Nigeria.  He hails from Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State and attended Nigerian Military School, Zaria. In his zeal to serve his fatherland, he then proceeded to the Nigerian Defense Academy, Kaduna.

It will interest you to know that this great Nigerian was determined to succeed through hard work and commitment to a good course of action.  This best explains why he painstakingly engaged in academic pursuit that led him to bag Masters Degree in International Relations and Public Administration from the prestigious Pittsburgh varsity and Harvard varsity respectively.

In his fruitful surgeon in Nigerian Army, he had a successful career which saw him he hold these positions of great magnitude. They include, Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma. He was appointed as the Military Administrator of Borno State in 1990 to 1992 by Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and later appointed as Military Adviser to Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations by Babangida administration.

Given his outstanding performance, he was appointed Military Administrator of Lagos State from 1996 to 1999 by Late Gen. Sani Abacha. Marwa did not only distinguish himself in Lagos with his developmental policies, but his achievements in Lagos State, made him a National and Global acclaimed leader Par Excellence and cerebral administrator of note. Immediately his appointment as Lagos Administrator, he quickly went to work by retooling the State’s infrastructure. For a start, he inaugurated the operation 250 roads which enhanced motoring condition tremendously in Lagos.

He also introduced Free Malaria Treatment for all to curb the effects of the fever and the revamp of the health sector while holding sway in Lagos. I will dwell less on his achievement in Lagos State as it is not the thrust of this essay.

However, there is no doubt that Gen. Marwa’s coming on board brought a lot of transformation to prosecution of drug war which has hitherto fought with kind glove.  Marwa as NDLEA Chairman has proven his competence and capacity to revamp the objectives of the agency and core values of our nation by taking the drug fight down to the grassroots to make Nigerians know the importance of nipping drug addiction on the bud.

It is a truism that he has recorded tremendous achievements so far, which includes the following: The agency has taking the war against drug abuse and trafficking to traditional and religious leaders to help curb the menace of drug abuse in March, 2021. This singular step has endeared him to many Nigerians and stakeholders who have now realized that he is more than qualified to bring sanity to the system.

More interestingly, he ordered his officers and men to go after the illicit drugs production laboratories and farms in Nigeria, precisely in April, 2021, which he emphasized during his presentation at the Commissions Conference in Vienna, Austria on National Drug Control Master Plan on Narcotic Drug Conference.

His words, “The agency took the step because of the threats drugs posed to Nigeria national security” among other things.

To boost his commitment to total eradication of illicit drugs, He appointed Sadat Lara Braimah, Lagos Area Manager of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) as NDLEA Ambassador in May, 2021 which is in line with President Buhari’s inaugural address, commemorating the 2021 United Nation International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, a war which must be fought by all well meaning citizens among other things.

In his quest to permanently discourage illicit drug intake, he recently stated that “One in every Nigerians is addicted to drug”, thereby calling for the Integrity Drug Test for students and politicians especially those vying for public offices. This he said during the annual United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking on June 26, 2021, amidst other things.  The Chairman gave other strict directives to his officers and men to crack down all Drug Cartels in Nigeria in July, 2021 which they have been doing with overwhelming results.

The Chairman of NDLEA said, the Agency recovered over 90 billion naira worth of drugs and cash from suspected drug traffickers from January to May, 2021. In addition to these positive moves, he also disclosed the arrests of over five thousand persons for drug related offences. Marwa has also prioritize training and retraining as strategy of widening the fight against drug addiction with the recent one held in Abuja from 4th – 6th June 2022.

The event was a sensitization programme on Drug Prevention, Treatment and Care (DPTC) for Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Yours sincerely, Primate Belonwu Ezeanyaeche, was there for   Anti-Kidnapping, Human Trafficking, Child Abuse & Drugs Abuse Initiative (AKH-TRACADA) as its Founder/President. The training was insightful and resource persons were cerebral which made the representatives of the NGOs to conclude without equivocation that Chairman of NDLEA is a great administrator that has introduced a positive dimension to the fight against illicit drugs.

It is on record that the Agency had secured the convictions of more than five hundred persons within the period under review. Since his appointment and inauguration as NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, his achievements are still counting. He has become nightmare to drug traffickers as they have no hiding place. It was based on this and many more that Anti Kidnapping, Human Trafficking, Child Abuse and Drug Abuse Initiative (AKH-TRACADA) commend the efforts of the Chairman in the campaign on drug reduction in Nigeria.

In the same vein and as partners in progress, we urge all citizens who meant well for this country to support this great Nigerian that is desirous in sanitizing our society by making it safer from drug addiction. We also pray that Almighty God will guide and protect Gen. Mohammed Marwa as he labour for our great nation.

Finally, I will like to urge all office holders to emulate Gen. Marwa’s leadership style that is all about putting the nation first in all policy formulations, his love for humanity which is evidenced in his show of integrity, selflessness and total dedication to Nigeria project.

Primate Belonwu Ezeanyaeche, Founder/National President of AKH-TRACADA writes in from Abuja.