The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA), Brigadier – General Buba Marwa (rtd) lamented to the leadership of the National Assembly Thursday, that the agency is in serious financial mess which had lowered the morale of the entire staff.
Marwa who first made the lamentation to the leadership of the Senate before going to the House of Representatives to do same , said the agency currently owes its workforce about N4billion entitlements cutting across allowances , promotion arrears etc .
According to him, the non-payment of the entitlements to staff has in no small way, affected the morale of the staff in the fight against hard drug abuse in the country.
He explained that he met the agency in comatose about six weeks ago when he assumed office as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer but trying hard to raise the morale of the operatives which according to him, cannot be achieved without required motivation financially and adequate working tools.
He therefore called on the National Assembly to review the act establishing the agency to enable it intensify fight against the deblitating drug abuse in the country, saying, ” Nigeria is under seige of drug abuse.”
“I met NDLEA in a state of comatose when I resumed office about six or seven weeks ago due to paucity of fund to run it and in particular, about N4billion being owed the workforce in terms of emoluments, which has dampened their morale.
“But serious efforts are being made to raise their morale in the fight against drug abuse and addiction in the country,” he said.
Linking the war against hard drug usage and trafficking in Nigeria to crimes and criminalities, the NDLEA boss said, “Criminalities will not end so quickly until we face the underlining nexus between it and drugs.
“Unfortunately to this point, the drug situation is not properly factored into the security architecture, we look at the other segments but forget that this is the causative area that needs to be equally attended to.
“Nigeria is in a state of siege today. Yes, you have insurgency and banditry and kidnapping mostly in the Northern part of the country, but if you go to Ogoni land and you speak to somebody about insurgency, he may not be very concerned.
“If you go to some other parts of the country and speak of kidnappings in some area, it is not a major concern, If you go to some other areas and you speak of banditry, it may not be of a major concern.
“But when you enter the realm of drug abuse, every part of Nigeria, you can for sure say that every person in this room knows somebody or a neighbour or a family that has affliction with drug abuse.
“The drug abuse scourge is actually the number one problem we are facing, it is everywhere.”
He therefore called for an urgent need to amend the act establishing the NDLEA for effective fight against drug abuse, noting that the act was promogated in 1989 just as he called for improved funding through required approoriation by the National Assembly.
In his remarks, the President of Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said the Senate would give an expeditious passage to the amendment of the act of NDLEA which will entails stiffer penalties for offenders, particularly the Drug barons.
“This should be one of our priorities,this is a dire situation that requires an immediate attention of the National Assembly and we will treat it as such.
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“If we can pass it before we go on our second break in July that will be fantastic.”
“My personal opinion is that NDLEA should be in the league of EFCC, the ICPC and therefore the kind of support those agencies are receiving, you should receive something like that in addition to many other things that you should be supported with.
“I believe that we should go on advocacy to our schools, institutions and why not even include in our curricula the issue of drugs.
“So that right from primary schools and probably at secondary school level, our students should be able to understand the dangers of taking drugs,” he said.