• Shehu of Borno, opinion leaders agree grassroots advocacy, drug test to curb drug menace
Borno state governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum has assured the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, of his commitment to bolster the current partnership between his government and the anti-narcotics agency to achieve the goal of a drug-free society across all 27 local council areas of the state.
According to Director, Media and Advocacy NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja, Femi Babafemi, Prof. Zulum gave the assurance when he hosted the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), who was in Borno for a three-day war against drug abuse, WADA, advocacy visit to mobilise relevant stakeholders to take ownership of the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking.
While commending the governor for his remarkable achievements in office, Marwa briefed him on the purpose of his visit as part of his ongoing social advocacy sensitization efforts across the country to engage with stakeholders with a view to cascading WADA efforts at the national level down to the grassroots and communities.
He said everything must be done to drastically reduce demand for illicit drugs and cut down access and availability of psychoactive substances because of the nexus between illicit drugs and the security challenges facing the state and the country as a whole.
Governor Zulum in his response acknowledged Marwa’s inspiring leadership qualities everywhere he had served including Borno as the state’s former military governor and his commitment to the drug fight.
He assured the NDLEA boss of the readiness of his government to strengthen and enlarge the existing collaboration in the interest of law and order as well as humanity.
While on his advocacy visit to the palace of Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Ibn Umar Garba Elkanemi, the NDLEA chairman urged the respected monarch to continue his support for the fight against illicit drugs while calling for drug test for intending couples as part of conditions for the conduct of weddings.
He said this would discourage a lot of young people from going into substance abuse.
In his response, the Shehu assured Marwa that all the 59 district heads under his emirate and the Chief Imam of Borno, Alhaji Zanna Laisu Ibrahim Ahmad present at the meeting would go back to their domains to implement the idea including setting up of drug control committees in their communities.
The same understanding was equally reached in another engagement with the Council of Ulamas led by the Chief Imam, Zanna Laisu Ibrahim Ahmad.
The idea was equally endorsed by the Christian community in another meeting held with leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Borno.
Chairman of CAN in the state, Most Rev Dr. John Bogna Bakeni while commending Marwa’s integrity, hardwork and selfless service to humanity said “the Christian community in Borno is ever ready to partner with you and your agency on this course because government alone can’t fight the drug scourge.”
Marwa and his delegation also made a stop over at the Headquarters Joint Task Force (North East) Operation Hadin Kai, where he encouraged the Theatre Commander, Major General Gold Chibuisi and his commanding officers to continue their support, patriotism and sacrifice for the nation.
He called for more collaboration with NDLEA to cut off access to illicit drugs by insurgents as well as drug test and sensitization lectures for troops on the dangers of illicit substances to their wellbeing.
Major Gen. Chibuisi in his response promised to make the drug fight part of the counter-insurgency efforts while increasing partnership with the anti-narcotics agency.
In his meeting with chairmen of local government areas in the state, Marwa charged them on collaboration as the agency prepares to establish presence in all the local councils across the country in the coming year.
The state Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Hon. Sugun Mai Mele and the LGA bosses assured of their preparedness while offering suggestions on how the synergy will work.
Also speaking during an advocacy visit to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof. Aliyu Shugaba and his management team, the NDLEA boss called for drug test for fresh and returning students to discourage those with disposition to abuse illicit substances.
While asking that the school’s counselling unit be strengthened to be able to respond to early signs of drug abuse, Marwa also assured that “we’ll like to work with the university to fish out members of the university community selling illicit drugs.”
In his response, Prof. Shugaba said “drug test is a great idea. We share and buy the idea and believe it will reduce drug abuse.
The drug problem is of a serious concern in the university because most of those arrested for theft and other vices are found to be on drugs. As such, we will take your suggestions and implement them immediately.”
He called for the setting up of an NDLEA Post on the campus and a Memorandum of Understanding between the university and the agency.
A stakeholders meeting was later held at the Indimi Hall of the university where Marwa and his team had interactions with members of other security agencies, students, transport unions, women groups, Youth Corp members, civil society organisations and many others.