The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is about to make a move that will ensure that Nigerian homes are safe again. The Chairman of the agency, Mohammed Mustapha Abdalla, revealed this on Friday 21st August, 2020, during the destruction of seized illicit drugs and substances in Maiduguri. According to him, drug testing will soon be made a compulsory prerequisite for the institutionalisation of marriages. He said that the major reason for putting up this requirement is to curb the use of drugs and other harmful substances among young ladies.
According to the NDLEA chairman, the number of young girls and married women that traffic and abuse drugs are on the increase. He said that this social ill was initially common among young men, but unfortunately, women are taking over the “business” from men. To discourage the further growth of this impending disaster, NDLEA chairman said, “As an extension of the proposed Drug Integrity Test Policy for the public servants, the agency is considering partnering with religious leaders to make testing a prerequisite for marriages in churches and mosques just as the case of HIV/AIDS and genotype tests.”
The good tidings this development will bring may not really be the total eradication of or a drastic reduction in substance trafficking and abuse. Why I said this is because most people don’t marry in churches and mosques. Besides, it is not compulsory that everyone should get married. So it is possible that a greater percentage of these abusers and traffickers may not be reached and discouraged if it becomes a marriage prerequisite. But I know we stand to gain a lot of benefits from it.
The good news I am seeing from this deliberation of NDLEA is that if it is brought into effect, our marriages will be safe again. With this policy in place, domestic violence and murder of spouses and children will reduce drastically. In fact, marriages will be left for the saner people alone.
But like I mentioned earlier, it is possible that people will still bypass this law even when they are getting married. A good instance is in the case of the double wedding system that exists in Nigeria, where you have to do the traditional marriage before going for the church wedding. A lot of couples usually stop at one level of the wedding, especially the traditional ones. Some do traditional weddings and then head to the court for the next one. How then does NDLEA plan to capture instances like this considering that there is no organisation that presides over traditional weddings?
Another problem here is that there is this possibility that people will start abusing substances after they get married. As the NDLEA chairman stated, drug testing will be given the same priority as HIV/AIDS screening before marriage is conducted. If I remember truly, marriage has not been able to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. I have read stories of and met people, whose spouses were infected with HIV when they were married. So, if people can contract HIV after getting married, it is possible that those that did not abuse substances before getting married can do so after their weddings.
As I stated earlier, it is not everybody that gets married. Since it’s only the people getting married that will be compelled to run drug tests, what about those that are unmarried? How will they be captured by this policy? What about the people that married before the policy was enforced? What plan does NDLEA have for them? Another thing is that the agency did not say anything about those going for court weddings. Or does it mean that they are exempted?
Of course, it might be impossible to stop drug and substance abuse and trafficking, but efforts should be made to discourage and bring them down. As a result, NDLEA should consider including more avenues for compulsory drug testing. But making it a compulsory prerequisite for marriages is a welcomed idea.
But then, NDLEA needs to come clear on certain aspects of the policy before enforcing it. For instance, if a person tests positive to the drug screening, what will be his fate?