Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), has warned that there will be no room for internal sabotage in the renewed war against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the country.
Marwa gave the warning in his remarks at the passing out ceremony of additional 2,500 cadets of Senior Officers Basic Course 16 Thursday at the NDLEA Academy, Jos.
The anti-narcotics czar, while reminding the gathering that the ceremony completes the addition of 5,000 personnel to the NDLEA workforce, charged the graduates to make their impact felt.
He said within the last 30 years, the world of illicit drugs had become complex and more devastating to society, and the dynamics of the Nigerian drug situation had become more dire, noting that that was why the 2018 Drug Use Survey jolted Nigeria and sounded the alarm bell on the inevitability of arresting the situation.
“Hence, some 35 months ago, in January 2021, NDLEA was handed a lifeline to rejig its structure and improve its systems to counter contemporary drug problems,” he said.
According to him, “Today’s passing out ceremony, coming after months of rigorous training, is one of the manifestations of the ongoing restructuring in the agency. Having another batch of 5,000 officers to strengthen our workforce will assuredly give the needed impetus to the fight against the abuse and trafficking of illicit substances.
“In the tradition of our noble organisation and according to global best practices, this batch of officers has been trained to be efficient drug law enforcement agents. They have spent the past four months in training, where they have learnt the intricacies of drug law enforcement and know that their job demands sacrifice, loyalty and discipline. I have no doubt that they are aware of their position as an important cog in the law and order system of society.”
Marwa, while welcoming the new Assistant Superintendents of Narcotics to the Agency, said: “I assure you that you are coming into this organisation at an interesting time when reforms are being implemented and plans have been laid for the next phase of action to curb drug abuse and trafficking in Nigeria.
“I must prepare your minds for the task ahead of you. The duties are such that there is no room for compromising the ethics of your profession or subverting the goals of the organisation. In our renewed campaign against illicit drugs, we are at a stage of ramped-up interdiction against cannabis, opioids and other psychoactive substances. We cannot afford to decelerate our effort and we will not tolerate sabotage from within.
“What that means is that the injection of an additional 5,000 officers must have an immediate and far-reaching impact on the campaign. In other words, everyone must make their effort count.”
Justifying his charge to all officers, men and women of the agency, Marwa who was represented at the ceremony by the Director Planning, Research and Statistics, Victoria Egbase, said: “We have seen the truth come back full circle in the past few weeks, whereby some of the world’s known abusers of cannabis have come out to tell the public they are either quitting or have been diagnosed with some ailment, notably emphysema, which puts them at risk of early death and mental harm. That should further add impetus to our collective effort to rid our society of the menace of cannabis and other such dangerous substances.
“For us in NDLEA, we hold our duty sacrosanct, and our duty is to do everything within the ambit of the law to cleanse our society of the menace of illicit substances,” adding that “we have shifted gears to become proactive by creating a number of goal-oriented programmes and efficient mechanisms, such as Offensive Action and War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy.”
He warned the new officers that they must not be found wanting in the discharge of their responsibilities.
“We are currently on the verge of expanding our presence to all 774 local government areas in the country. What that should tell our new officers is that there is work to do, and you cannot afford to be complacent or compromise the high standards we have set. On that note, let me also inform you that you must not fraternise with offenders of drug trafficking laws. Doing so is dangerous to your safety; it is catastrophic to your career; it sabotages organisational goals; and it is inimical to society’s wellbeing. Remembering this nugget of advice and abiding by it will ensure you a colourful and gratifying career,” Marwa said.
He commended the leadership of the NDLEA Academy and its team of instructors for the success of the training, adding that: “I am proud to say that in less than two years, they have shown their mettle and successfully trained 10,000 cadets. This is historic for NDLEA.”
The NDLEA boss also expressed appreciation to the people and government of Plateau State; the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da. Jacob Gyang Buba; the management of FRSC Training School, Jos; the Nigerian Army and other sister agencies in Plateau State for their unwavering support for NDLEA.