Some Nigerian politicians could be weird and wild in thinking. And the legion is growing by the minute. To this species, mischief is everything and everything is mischief.
They certainly don’t see beyond their bent noses. With that warped and crude mind-set, they politicise anything under the sun. They operate with reckless abandon. They malign carelessly with all the strength they can muster.
They twist issues, no matter how serious, to align with their selfish and parochial interests and expectations. In the process, they make a mess of good intents and purposes.
Theirs is a deliberate manipulation, misinterpretation and complete misrepresentation. They do it for their inordinate ambition.
They are always on the move for the very wrong reason. They strive hard with great efforts just to occupy any space for their maximum advantage. That’s their stock in trade.
Forever in the news, that’s what they cherish with relish. They are the “rave of the moment.” With that, they sink deeper and deeper into confusion. Controversy is their second name.
It would be a Herculean task to convince them otherwise. The reason is, they are easily given to frivolities and trivialities.
So be it with Bassey Eko Ewa! He is Special Adviser to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. Before now, he was Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly, between 2003 and 2007. From there, he made it to the House of Representatives in 2007.
He was up in arms the other day. He called out for war. His target: General Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd), chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
He wanted to take Marwa to the cleaners. He was really hard on him. Again, for the wrong reason. He erroneously thought he was on course. But we knew he was far from it. He couldn’t have been, anyway. He was ferocious both in his action and inaction.
He actually displayed the feigned hard stuff he thought he was made of. And he channelled it obviously to inapposite quarters.
The other time, Marwa paid Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu a visit. And he made a pronouncement there. Ewa picked imaginary holes in the statement. Obviously, he read it the other way round. So? He insisted Marwa must resign “honourably” or be disgraced out of office.
His version of Marwa’s statement is awkward and strange: “One in every seven Nigerians is a drug addict.” That’s what he said Marwa told Sanwo-Olu.
Did Marwa really say this? Great doubt! His exact words: “The drug scourge is now an epidemic in Nigeria. The prevalence is 15 per cent, three times the global average.
“One, in seven Nigerians, takes drugs. We have found out that there is a nexus between drug use and crime.”
It got Ewa infuriated the more. His heartbeat increased. He became unnecessarily restless and agitated. He refused to be convinced. He flared up. He fired: “Where did he get his statistics? There is no justification to what Marwa has said. I have interacted with many Nigerians, both home and abroad, including the rich, middle class and the lower class. Nigerians are decent people. We are not a drug country.”
Definitely, there is more to it than meets the eye, especially with his flawed reaction coming over three weeks after Marwa told us the obvious. Only Ewa could explain it, nobody else. Did he have something to hide? We wondered aloud. All the same, he roared the more to high heavens: “Buba Marwa must resign. If his mission is to come to office and malign Nigerians by calling them drug addicts, the honourable thing for him to do is to resign immediately.”
He even took it to a ridiculous level: “It is this kind of statement from the likes of Marwa that scares investors away. These are the kind of statements that create negative impressions about Nigeria and Nigerians home and abroad.”
Ewa then diversified. He appealed to sentiments. He courted Nigerians: “Even if there are drug addicts, it does not translate to one out of seven Nigerians. Marwa has indicted whole lots of innocent Nigerians. He generalised without statistics. I call on the National Assembly to do the needful. He must resign immediately.”
Ewa missed it big time. He goofed! He carelessly allowed the message to be lost on him completely. Great pity. He did not get it right at all. And that is the greatest tragedy we have at hand.
Marwa wasn’t saying anything new neither was he exposing anything. What he said and even more have been in the public domain since 2018! It formed the bulk of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA).
Support for the survey came from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It was funded by the European Union (EU) under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). It was part of the UNODC implemented project, “Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria.”
The project was to support Nigeria in fighting drug production, trafficking and use and improved access to quality drug prevention, treatment and care services.
The report is genuine, there for Ewa’s asking. It was authenticated by former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and Dr. Yemi Kale, Statistician-General of the Federation.
That is where Marwa drew his inspiration. He dwelled strictly on statistics and figures. He was not just talking for its sake, as Ewa would want us to believe. Marwa had in his palms raw, hard and concrete facts; equally hard to fault. And he spoke from that strong position.
Ewa did not. He spoke because he felt he must speak. That was why he blindly jumped to his jaundiced and confused conclusion.
If he must know, there are 14.3 million drug users in Nigeria. Out of the number, 20 per cent are drug-dependent. That is another word for drug addiction. It is in the same survey Marwa quoted.
What Ewa did was to interchange drug use and drug addiction. That is pure ignorance. Let’s take the trouble to educate him. He should be humble enough to come down from his throne of arrogance. He needs to learn some useful lessons even now.
There is a world of glaring difference between drug use and drug addiction. Not all drug users are drug addicts. Conversely, all drug addicts are drug users.
Yes! It’s as simple as that. Virtually everyone takes drugs. But not everyone is addicted to drugs. If it’s that simple, Ewa is just playing the ostrich. He sees the problem but hides from it. He ought to know that this is unpatriotic.
Ewa failed to ask and he was not given. He opted not to seek and he did not find. Then whose fault? The reason he will forever keep on ranting. Anyway, he has been shown the way. The earlier he follows it, the better for him. That is our fervent prayer.
Help! This man is stranded, confused. Ignorance is very expensive. It’s taking heavy tolls on him. Come, let’s rescue Ewa fast. And he would be eternally grateful we did.