Combating
Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking: The Call to Action

Good Morning Everyone,
today – 23rd June, 2017 is my younger brother’s 24th birthday. ‘Taiwo Olusanya’
is my best friend and I would like every one of us to call and congratulate him
as he adds another year, his mobile phone number is – +234 (0) 706 -935 -6264. I would have love to discuss in great
details, all the naughty things we did together when we were much younger but I
have something serious to discuss today. This week’s article is wholly
dedicated to address the menace of drug
abuse and illicit trafficking
and offer workable suggestions to decision
makers and those at vantage positions on how to combat the surge. In addition,
our individual and collective roles and responsibilities as members of the
society would also be itemized. You are much welcome.


Monday, 26th June,
2017 is the international Day against
Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
which is observed annually to raise
awareness about illicit drug abuse and trafficking. It was first observed by
the United Nations General Assembly in 1987 on a date chosen to commemorate Lin
Zexu’s dismantling of the opium trade in Humen, Guangdong, just before the
First Opium War in China. The United Nations statistics, 230 million people
worldwide are using drugs. The United Nations World Drug report 2007 also
stated that drugs worth around USD322 Billion had been traded around the world
every year. Drug abuse is one of the most serious health problems.  Besides damaging health, it has several side
effects such as economic loss, antisocial behavior such as stealing, violence
and crime besides social stigma and overall downfall of the society.
Drug racket operates
internationally, but some countries are transshipment points for drug
circulation. India possibly because of its strategic location is a victim of
drug activities including drug trafficking and local consumption. The
Government of India passed a law in 1988 to prevent Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic
Drugs and Psychotropic Substances as a measure to curb the drug haul.  But still then drug menace continues widely.
It is believed that in Punjab about 75% of youth are addicted from one or the
other form of drug. The use of drugs appears to be increasing in the metros
along with alcohol use amongst youth and even women population. The influence
of Westernization, changing family structure and peer pressure are some of the
reasons behind drug abuse. (Source: United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime
(UNODC)’s official website)
Similarly, a paper by
Gernot Klantschnig, titled; “The
politics of drug control in Nigeria: 
exclusion, repression and obstacles to policy change
, it is believed that; “International agencies have viewed
West Africa as a major player in the global trade in cocaine and heroin and in
efforts to control that trade, as there have been reports of escalating arrests
of drug smugglers, large scale drug seizures and ‘narco-states’ in the sub
region.  It is claimed that a substantial
share of the drugs available in Western markets transit through West Africa
today and are increasingly used there as well. Notwithstanding this growing
alarm, there is little serious scholarship addressing the issue of drugs and
drug policy in West Africa”.


The
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency
(NDLEA) is the
Federal agency in Nigeria charged with eliminating the growing, processing,
manufacturing, selling, exporting and trafficking of hard drugs. The agency was
established by Decree 48 of January 1990. The NDLEA is present in international
airports, seaports and border crossing. It tries to eradicate cannabis by
destroying plantings. The NDLEA also targets the leaders of narcotics and money
laundering organizations. Its head office is in Ikoyi, Lagos. Former Chairman
of NDLEA, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade, described illicit drugs as “alien” to
Nigeria. Cannabis, now locally grown in most states of the federation, was
introduced to the country by foreigners. Ms. Dagmar Thomas, the Country
Representative of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), says
Nigeria was one of the largest cannabis growers in Africa, with over 8% of the
population abusing cannabis. Annual cannabis seizures increased from 126 metric
tonnes in 2005 to 210 metric tonnes in 2007. (Source: Wikipedia.com).
If the true is to be
told, NDLEA have made significant progress in the fight against drug abuse and
illicit trafficking and its should be commended. Gernot Klantschnig’s research,
titled; “The politics of drug
control in Nigeria:  exclusion, repression
and obstacles to policy change
” also confirmed the above assertion.
Excerpts; “According   to  
most   Nigerian   drug  
officials, NDLEA   campaigns   started  
to   be successful in the second
half of the 1990s, when the military government made the drug war a top
political priority.  This drug war could
stop the ever-increasing tide of cocaine and heroin shipped through
Nigeria.  To support this claim of
success, officials highlight increasing drug seizures as measures of
performance –seizure statistics are referred to as ‘performance scorecards’ in
the NDLEA – and the tonnes of drugs that are burnt at officially choreographed
events every few months (NDLEA, 2005). They also point to a range of approval
messages from the national media and foreign drug agencies since the second
half of the 1990s. This positive reporting on the Nigerian drug agency has
continued and intensified since the end of military rule in 1999.  The national media has published repeated
stories praising the efforts of the NDLEA – with titles such as ‘We Are Winning
the Drug War’, ‘International Community Woos NDLEA’ or ‘UN Applauds Anti-Drug
Crusader’ (Daily Sketch, 2001; Daily Sun, 2004; Vanguard, 2004).  News stories more critical of the NDLEA have
been exceptional (NDLEA, 2004). From the late 1990s onwards, foreign agencies,
such as the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the UNODC also started
to praise the efforts of the NDLEA in their annual reports and described the
agency as Nigeria’s ‘most professional body’ combating drug trafficking. This
praise came after several years of international critique for an agency that
had been rife with corruption. From the late 1990s onwards, foreign agencies
claimed that the NDLEA had ‘assumed a leadership role in drug law enforcement
in the region’ (US State Department 1997, 1999, 2000, 2004; Daily Sun,
2004).  In more recent years, even the US
State Department, which had been the driving force behind Nigeria’s drug policy
– related ‘decertification’ throughout most of 1990s (Obot, 2004), joined the
ranks of admirers: Despite the significant challenges facing West Africa, there
is reason for hope. Oil wealthy Nigeria is entirely unique:  numerous and very experienced Nigerian
traffickers have been deployed worldwide over decades. But despite its many
problems the Government of Nigeria has demonstrated increased political will in
fighting narcotics.  …  Nigeria’s National Drug and Law Enforcement
Agency (NDLEA) flexed its muscles in arresting a drug kingpin, processing an
extradition, and convicting 1,231 of 1,239 traffickers (Carson, 2009)”.
In consequently, I do
believe that more still needs to be done to improve on the performance of
NDLEA. The government needs to improve on the funding and resources allocation
for NDLEA. A report by Vanguard published on 6th June, 2016 titled; War Against Drug Abuse: NDLEA will be well
funded in 2017 – FG
by Ikechukwu Nnochiri validates my point. Excerpts,
Senate Committee Chairman on Drugs
and Narcotics, Senator Lidani noted that NDLEA was in dire need of greater
funding to enable it function optimally to be able to deliver its
constitutional mandate of combating the drug menace. He described as worrisome,
the high level of drug trafficking in the country and the inadequacies of the
agency to confront the scourge adequately because of shortfall in manpower and
transportation especially operational vehicles, boats and aircrafts. According
to him, when the joint Committee approached the Head of Service to request for
staff increase for the agency, they were told there is no cash backing to
employ additional staff, saying that while the Nigerian Security and Civil
Defence Corp (NSCDC) got approval to recruit 7,000 staff recently, just like
some other para-military outfits, the NDLEA was left out. On his part, the
House Committee Chairman, Hon. Eucharia, lamented that the Agency currently
have 4,900 officials to cover the 36 states of the federation and the Federal
Capital Territory. She said it was disheartening that NDLEA officials go to
effect arrest of drug peddlers with motorcycles popularly called Okada. “If you
share this figure among the 36 states and the 774 Local Government Areas in the
country, it is nothing to write home about’’, Hon. Eucharia added, even as she
decried as appalling, the rate at which married women consume hard drugs. She
revealed that only N114 million was appropriated to NDLEA as capital
expenditure in the 2016 budget with a paltry allocation of N100,000 to each
State Command monthly to defray operational cost which she described as grossly
inadequate. Meantime, the NDLEA boss, Col. Abdallah (retd), stressed that the
agency he inherited from his predecessor needed to be transformed in terms of
human and material resources to enable him and his men to meet up to expectations
“.
(Culled from Vanguard News –
http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/06/war-against-drug-abuse-ndlea-will-be-well-funded-in-2017-fg/)


Conclusively, I also
believe that we need to provide the authorities with any useful information
that would help them in the discharge of their responsibilities, we should also
note that inter-governmental organizations like NDLEA and others function more
optimally with the co-operation and collaboration of members of the public and
we should not forget to wish my younger brother ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’
God bless Us All
Olusanya Oluwole
Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.