From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Brig. Gen. Mohamed Marwa (retd) on Monday revealed that he inherited a disenchanted workforce and an agency that has been neglected over the years.
Marwa in his address to mark his one year in office in Abuja lamented that the situation allowed rot to set in leading to loss of efficiency “which in turn eroded public confidence in the Agency as well as caused allies and strategic partners to lose faith in the Agency.”
According to him, “the Agency survived with a lean workforce of officers and men, who worked with grossly inadequate and obsolete tools and earned considerably less in salary than their counterparts in other government security institutions”
“The situation was so bad payment of allowances of any sort (including burial entitlements to the families of the deceased officers) stopped long ago. There was no promotion, a situation that left officers stalled on a rank, some for as long as 20 years”
“The NDLEA was an Agency afflicted with institutional defect, gradual but steady deterioration from within due to demoralising work conditions and appalling staff welfare”.
He however said with his determination to succeed and the willpower of the Federal Government, he has turned NDLEA around.
Meanwhile, Marwa further disclosed said that a special task force is currently working across the country to track and dismantle drug cartels behind the production and distribution of methamphetamine, popularly called Mkpuru Mmiri, being abused by youths in parts of the country. He challenged communities across Nigeria to take ownership of the war against drug abuse as those in South East states are doing by standing up to those engaging in abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs.
In his words, If you look at the preponderance of the dealers in drugs, Im not saying anything new but the South East has the predominance and thats a fact. Who are the Boko Haram people? I know they are not Yoruba and I know they are not people from Edo, but if you go to the North West and ask who are the bandits, I know they are not from Cross River or from Lagos. If you ask the people doing the human trafficking, the women, you know from where. So definitely, we have the preponderance of the drug dealers from the South East, but what more do you have; the greatest efforts by communities to rid the country and their communities of drug use is from the South East. Clearly, in the same South East, they are doing two things; first, they are telling their fellow travelers who are not decent, that look you are the very few who are spoiling our names here. Stop it!
And more importantly, they are riding their communities of drug abuse, they have taken the ownership of the war themselves against drug abuse especially the Mkpuru-Mmiri. By the way, we have set up a special task force to face that challenge and very soon you would hear and see the results of our efforts.
In essence, what I am saying is that, I am now taking the South East as an example, for all the other communities in Nigeria. This war has to start from the bottom, from the communities; set up your War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, Committees. In every community, you are the ones who know those patent medicine stores that sell drugs, the mai shayi, those at the corner ends of the streets who sell and hawk drugs, you know the traffickers and you know those who use them. Take this war to your communities because you know these people, cleanse your communities, and take the ownership of this war and the NDLEA will always be there to back you up. However, the NDLEA does not and will not support the flogging of the culprits and some of the other human rights abuses. We will be there to support with counseling and treatments.
And I urge the entire country to take an example of the ownership of the war against drug abuse from the South East.
He attributed the successes recorded in the drug war in the past year to God, support of President Muhammadu Buhari, National Assembly, Minister of Justice and other stakeholders including international partners such as UNODC, EU, and foreign governments as well as local CSOs and NGOs. He listed the arrest of 12, 306 suspects, including 7 drug barons; conviction of 1, 400 offenders; seizure of over 3.4 million kilograms of assorted drugs; drugs and cash worth over N130 billion and the counselling and rehabilitation of 7, 761 drug users as some of the achievements recorded in 2021 in the area of operation.
While promising to build on the foundation laid in 2021, Gen. Marwa said the Agency under his leadership now has a clear roadmap to the future. According to him, The Agency has come a long way. And there is still a long way to go. We have a clear vision of where we are headed, and there is a roadmap to that destination. Today, the improvement in our fortune as an organisation is driving the NDLEA workforce to continue to push for the attainment of organisational goals and fulfillment of our core mandate of securing our country against the drug scourge. We all believe in the vision of the new NDLEA and we are committed to its mission. Our mandate is to ensure a drug-free Nigeria. We shall continue to play our role towards the achievement of that goal.”