The Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig- Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd.), on Monday, compared drug abuse in the country to a hydra-headed monster that must be crushed for Nigeria to move forward as a nation. He added that drug abuse was an enabler of all forms of criminality in the country.
Marwa said this at a media briefing in Abuja to flag off activities to mark the International World Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The World Drug Day is marked on every June 26 to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse.
He also said fighting war against drug abuse and trafficking in a country like Nigeria was a big problem, which the agency could not do alone.
“The simplest contribution that we ask of every patriotic citizen is what is captured by the theme of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking: ‘Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives.’
“We must avail ourselves of every opportunity to drive the message home to Nigerians about the importance of having a drug-free country.
“At the same time, it is equally important to make our message unmistakably clear to those involved in the trafficking of illicit substances, and also the cartels, barons and traffickers, that it is time for them to quit or face a tough consequence.”
Marwa, however, said since he took over the leadership of the agency, he had set machinery in motion to reposition it.
“I am glad to report to you today that after five months, we are making a definite headway in repositioning the agency for efficiency and effectiveness.
“We have succeeded in boosting the morale and confidence of officers and men of the agency through practical steps taken to address welfare and career stagnation issues.
“To this end, we instituted, among other measures, a bi-monthly assessment and cash-backed award for best performing commands to motivate officers and men on the field,” said Marwa.
He explained that the agency recently promoted 3, 506 officers who had been stagnated in the past years, some for upward of 10, 15 and even 20 years on one rank.
“Major administrative steps were taken to restore the visibility of the agency for local and international partnerships. And in five months, we have made appreciable progress.
“So far, the image of the agency has tremendously improved, so much so that today, people are now aware of the existence of the agency unlike before,” he said.
The Country Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Oliver Stolpe, called on individuals, communities and various organisations all over the world to join the global observance.
Stolpe said it was important to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represented for society, urging the public to share facts on drugs to help save lives.
“Do your part and combat misinformation by sharing the real facts on drugs – from health risks and solutions to tackle the world drug problem, to evidence-based prevention, treatment and care.
“Every year, UNODC issues the World Drug Report, full of key statistics and factual data obtained through official sources, a science-based approach and research.
“UNODC will continue to provide facts and practical solutions to address the current world drug problem, and remains committed to attaining a vision of health for all based on science.
“By working together, we can tackle the world drug problem,” he said.