On Tuesday, 25th May 2021, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) took another stride towards combating illicit drug trafficking and use in Nigeria. The Chairman/Chief Executive of the agency, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd), revealed this plan while delivering a lecture on “Drug Abuse and National Security Challenge: Way Forward,” at the 5th-anniversary lecture of Presidential Diary magazine.
According to Marwa, politicians vying for political offices and students seeking admissions into higher institutions will be compelled to undergo drug tests. Marwa said that political positions should not be entrusted to users of hard drugs because they will not have the capacity to handle the responsibilities associated with the offices, especially considering that they will, most times, be under the influence of drugs. He further implied that students may be unable to partake in academic activities when they are under the influence of drugs. This means that their education will be affected. By these, the NDLEA boss describes how hard drugs promote bad leadership and poor education.
But these are not the only reasons NDLEA wants to go after politicians and students that take hard drugs. According to Brig. Gen. Marwa, hard drug trafficking, and use are among the major causes of the high rate of crimes and insecurities in the country. Of course, research has shown that hard drugs alter people’s perception of shapes, sizes, and sounds, which could lead to misconduct. Drugs also affect user’s emotions by inducing anxiety, sadness, anger, depression, and so on. You will agree with me that drug-related crimes exist and have constituted in societies. So, if the NDLEA decides to discourage users as a way of fighting illicit drugs in the country, the agency should be given maximum support from all of us. But then, are they ready to do as they said?
If you could remember, sometime last year, NDLEA proposed that couples preparing to get married will first go for drug tests before their marriages will be conducted. This proposal was a welcomed one because of the high rate of domestic violence the country witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown. But the agency has not revisited it after dropping the hint so that, today, it is uncertain whether the plan will still be implemented. It should be known that controlling the rate at which drug abusers and addicts go into marriages will help to reduce the rate of domestic violence, especially the ones that lead to spousal deaths. I hope Brig. Gen. Mohammed Marwa will put this into perspective once again.
Nevertheless, aspiring for political offices, seeking admission into higher institutions, and planning marriages should not be the only reasons people get tested for drugs. How about those that gained employment in corporate and non-corporate organizations? How about professionals in different fields? What about civil servants? What of the military, paramilitary, and personnel of other forces? What about every individual that gives security operatives a reason to be suspicious? Let drug tests be for everyone.
The aspirations of the NDLEA chairman to eradicate hard drugs from the country by cutting down on its demand may sound far-fetched but it should not be bluffed. Over the past few weeks, reports on the NDLEA’s arrests and apprehension of drug traffickers made waves all over the country, showing that the agency is doing its best so far. Hard drugs worth billions of Nigeria have been intercepted and seized by this agency but many more will find their way into the country if nothing is done and done very soon. But, if you truly look at it, drugs will not come into the country if there is no demand for them. Hence, the NDLEA’s proposal to subject aspiring political office holders and students to drug tests is a welcomed idea and should be supported by all of us. Nevertheless, the test should be extended to other people from different walks of life.