In April 2019, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state disclosed that all his political appointees must undergo drug test before being given any public trust. The governor was addressing the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) and officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Kano state command, led by Colonel Buba Marwa (rtd).
President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the committee with a view to containing the twin menace of drug and substance abuse as well as the Almajiri phenomenon, since the duo are rampaging the country. The committee was meant to tour the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to the chairman of PACEDA, Colonel Buba Marwa, Kano and Lagos states were zoned last for their strategic nature in the structure of the country and the size of their population.
From all indications, the Ganduje administration has resolved to take the bold step because drug and substance abuse has become a national, regional and international issue that even the so-called developed nations, these days, are struggling to suppress drug distribution and the influence of drug barons.
The governor’s move is to conspicuously apply ‘reverse osmosis’ approach to get rid of contaminants in his cabinet and, by and large, invigorate the high echelon of public service in the state.
The second set of his appointees has successfully undergone and passed drug test. Initially, his permanent secretaries were tested. This was followed by the newly appointed managing directors of government agencies. Only posterity will judge the efficacy of this all-important policy.
As usual, the policy was greeted with avalanche of criticisms of the sincerity or otherwise of the governor, with some feigning blind to the need. But I think any person conversant with happenings in Nigeria will willingly cast his vote for the policy.
Not only this, we are in dire need of sanity in our classrooms, places of worship, residences, markets, streets, the media, the police and the army – we need sanity everywhere. Where do we not need sanity, for God’s sake?
Drug and substance abuse may not be the only major cause of the degeneration of this country. Corruption always tops the list. But even humongous corruption cases are, in effect, related to mental disorder, which in most cases, nowadays, is caused by drug abuse. Nevertheless, drug and substance abuse has caused an irreparable damage to the polity and the country in general. One hears stabbings and strangling here, and later awoken by the news of wanton losses of lives and property there.
For instance, public office holders are meant to be role models and their offices are high moral grounds where norms and values are taught, learnt and emulated. But unfortunately this is not the case in Nigeria today. The corridors of power have, more or less, debased into a graveyard of some sort where good characters are buried for good.
Recently, a senator, representing one of the constituencies in one of the North-east states in the country and whose status, on moral grading scale, can be likened to that of an ambassador, representative or envoy, nearly knocked down a nursing mother whom he should have protected.
At the very moment some hypercritical elements were busy rubbishing the governor’s move comes the vagary.
On Monday, July 8, 2019, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Nura Dahiru, showed up at the headquarters of the Nigerian Customs Service adorned with the rank of Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs and walked straight into the office of the Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Alli, to take over the affairs of the agency, claiming he was acting on the directive of President Buhari.
We cannot outrightly repudiate Mr. Dahiru’s claim. Sometimes even people suffering from borderline personality disorder may experience dream-reality disorder. One of the symptoms of the ailment is proneness (liability to experience something though susceptibility). So argued Dagna Skrzyoinska.
When the officer was subjected to an intensive interrogation, according to some reports, it was gathered that he was not in the right frame of mind
According to some sources, a week before the development, the service had approved the promotion of 1,924 of its personnel. Mr Dahiru, as well as others, was promoted to ASC.
Ultimately, Mr Dahiru is already at the Customs Medical Centre to determine his frame of mind. The service has found it imperative to subject the officer to a series of medical examinations, maybe drug test since, according to medical psychologists, drugs play a role in altering areas of the brain causing the neurons to release abnormally large amount of natural neurotransmitters or prevent normal recycling.
However, the irony is that Dahiru has overnight jerked up his rank from ASC to which he was recently promoted to ACG. And, indeed, there are eight ranks, as reported, between the ASC and DCG, which is next in rank to the Comptroller-General of Customs.
The question is what exactly instigated Mr Dahiru to this horrendous self-promotion? Reactions have it that it is either a perfect example of get-rich-quick syndrome or the action must have been motivated by drugs.
Each of the two, one must pity Mr Dahiru, for he must have been junketing in a poorly structured space dominated by today’s youth.
Similarly, on Monday, as reported by the media, the Nigerian Army set up an committee to investigate a case involving two soldiers who allegedly made away with a consignment of cash amounting to millions of naira when on escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna state.
According to the spokesman, 8 Division Nigerian Army, Lieutenant Audu Arigu, as reported by some newspapers, the wanted soldiers were detailed for legitimate escort duty for a VIP. However, they chose to rob the VIP in question. Investigation has commenced to unravel the circumstances and whereabouts of the soldiers.
This drama was trailed by an unending search for the VIP’s identity and who the soldiers are. Any attempt at arriving at a conclusion raises more questions than answers. I do not mind either the identity of the VIP or that of the soldiers.
One thing that troubles me the most is the misdeed by the members of, supposedly, the last bastion of Nigerian unity. The army is not meant only to kill in order to protect this nation but also to be the epitome of discipline.
These are people who have been technically, emotionally and mentally trained until they acquired adequate mental toughness. Their minds were treated as though they were muscles. All clear examples of resilience, strength and focus end up with soldiers.
The battle-hardened soldiers you and I see in combat boots, camouflage and wielding rifles have not only successful passed their ‘emotional resilience’ tests or acquired psychological hardness, they are an ultimate symbol of a sovereign nation.
If the drama turns out to be true, the action will not only dent the image of the erring soldiers, but by implication, that of the army also.
In sum, when one adds the story of three teenagers who kidnapped, over-drugged and consequently killed a five-year-old boy at Karkasara Quarters, Kano state, the future is not only bleak but also horrific.
The teenager, as young as they are, were demanding for N50 million. What a huge amount!
Until we do something to shore up this falling roof called Nigeria, it will bury us all. Perhaps, we all need a drug test of some kind.
Abdulhamid writes via [email protected]