The ban on the use of illicit drugs by the federal government in order to curb its menace seems to have encouraged more users to fashion out other creative ways of engaging in the use of the substances undetected. The Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Muhammadu Gana Abdullahi, in this exclusive interview with Kuni Tyessi, expressed fears for the nation’s future generation, amongst other sundry issues. Excerpts:
There has been rumours that your organisation has been recruiting secretly and promotions have been lopsided. How true is this?
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has been on integrated payment for personnel civil structure since June last year. So for that, we cannot employ even one person. We cannot add even a single name to the payroll without consulting the Federal Ministry of Finance. So how can we recruit? Those spreading the rumours and cresting speculations are just fraudsters going about duping innocent Nigerians because they know that the youths are desperately looking for jobs. It’s unfortunate. I have said it loud and clear that we are not recruiting and we cannot recruit now. If we are going to recruit, we will make use of the media so that Nigerians will be aware. Civil defence is not recruiting and we have not recruited since 2015.
What has your organisation been able to do to secure the country in terms of natural and man-made resources?
We have saved Nigeria from a lot of damages with arrests that we have made. We have destroyed over 600 illegal refineries in the South-south from 2015 till date. Look at what happened in Abia State. We warned them. My commandant called me and I said, go and warn them. Go to their traditional rulers and chiefs. Go to their LGA chairmen. Advise them and that area should be cordoned. Some of our brothers were there with them and within a twinkle of an eye, they all lost their lives and this is unfortunate.
What do you have to say about the prevailing use of Illict drugs among youths today?
We have a challenge in the North. It is not about washing dirty linen in public, but the need to call a spade a spade. There’s a saying which states that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. We have a cancer that is eating deep into our system in the North today. If care is not taken, there will be no future generation at all. What is this cancer? It is the issue of drugs- codeine, tramadol, etc. It is so serious today in the North. When you go to the upper North, you will discover that housewives, the mothers, the first point of socialisation that our children have, the custodians of our homes are into the consumption of these drugs, because when you are a mother, you are a mother to the husband and children too. Unfortunately, a high number of them are into the consumption of these illegal drugs. Housewives in the North today welcome their friends with the drugs. Almost every household in the north, even in a nuclear family has the case of drug abuse.
How can this be addressed and where is the future?
If you have children, you have inheritors and descendants that are expected to make you proud. As a journalist, you have the opportunity of saying just a word and this can go all out to affect millions. If this is not done, I don’t want to say anything but I am sorry. It’s like we don’t have a future.
Are there areas you have been able to detect as illicit drug points within the FCT?
Today, if you go to Wuse 2, there is popular shopping plaza. Just park your car and watch and you will see the kind of young ladies that come to buy drugs and they are mostly from the North. They are mostly dressed in hijabs. The issue of drug abuse has caused a lot of damage, resulting to deaths and even the highly placed have not been spared. Unfortunately, some of these people are educated and even have foreign certificates
Its prevalence seems to be more in the North, why is this so?
It is a national problem but it is more in the North. Let me go back to my study in Sociology. I was in Holland and I asked the chief of civil defence the secret behind what I saw after going to their prisons and discovered that they are so big and well furnished and yet there are hardly inmates. They were beautifully equipped and I said to myself that if this were to be in Nigeria, it would have been filled to capacity because of the luxury available. I asked how they were able to achieve such a feat and he explained that when Indian hemp was banned, the intake and use went up to as high as 70 per cent. But when they liberalised it, its use and consumption dropped by five per cent. By human nature, if you tell someone, don’t do this, you have to look for a way of explaining to him the pros and con’s in an explicit manner, such that he will understand. But if you simply say: don’t do this, they will be curious to know why. The human mind is naturally inquisitive. Apart from that, in the North, especially the Muslim part, when one takes alcohol, the pungent smell is usually perceived and detected and people will conclude that such a person is a drunkard. The stigma is there. But if they take substances that can go undetected, then they feel they are good to go and at liberty to take as much as they want. If not, tell me; what time will an Igbo man who will go the shop for his business have to take drugs in the mornings? But the worse is that housewives in the North are not helping matters. The abuse of drugs by women is more painful because once they are into it, it simply means that our children are also into it and this is most unfortunate.