By Our Correspondent
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Narcotic Drugs, Dr Francis Ottah Agbo, has reiterated the commitment of the committee towards ensuring the fight against substance abuse and narcotic drug addiction in Nigeria is won.
Dr Ottah Agbo restated the commitment at a meeting of the Narcotic Drugs Committee of the House of Representatives with the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig-Gen Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) and top management staff of the agency at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja on Thursday.
The lawmaker, who represents Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu Federal Constituency in Benue State, said having identified drug scourge as a major cause of the social dislocations in the country, the House of Representatives, being a people’s parliament, has decided to champion the fight against substance abuse and narcotic drug addiction in the country, stating, “if we fail to destroy narcotic drug addiction, it will destroy Nigeria.”
He said that he and his committee are fighting the war in collaboration with the NDLEA, which he noted, is the agency statutorily empowered to fight the menace.
Dr Ottah Agbo, who is the spokesman of the minority caucus of the House of Representatives, said he is pleased with the appointment of Brig-Gen Marwa, who, he described as a turn-around expert, as chairman of the NDLEA.
While describing him as the new sheriff in town, he said that Marwa has the capacity to clear the doubts of illicit drug traffickers and drive the officers and men of the NDLEA towards achieving the mandate of the agency.
The honourable member, who is popularly known as the Ozigizaga and the Feedback Lawmaker, said he has confidence that just as the late Prof Dora Akunyili positively impacted on the image of NAFDAC through hard work and dedication to duty, Marwa will do more for the NDLEA, given the level of technology available now.
While running through the problems facing the NDLEA, which he said include, lack of adequate personnel and equipment as well as inadequate funds, the committee chairman said that with support from the parliament and the extent to which his committee has gone, he is confident that the NDLEA will soon begin to bark and bite.
“It is because we are aware of the enormity of the challenges faced by the NDLEA that we wasted no time in approving money for the agency in the 2020 and 2021 budgets so that the bulk of the problems of the agency would be addressed. Today, NDLEA has a Transit House in Abuja and a national headquarters for the NDLEA is in the offing!
“We also worked out the Police Trust Fund Amendment Bill. Since, NDLEA is a policing agency established to investigate and prosecute narcotic drug addicts, we want to amend the existing Police Trust Fund Act to read Policing Trust Fund Act, in order to make the NDLEA a beneficiary of the Police Trust Fund and I am happy to report to you that the bill has reached second reading…”
The journalist turned politician said his committee would, in the next budget, make sufficient provision for the agency to procure sophisticated weapons and other working aides to effectively take the battle to the door steps of drug barons and traffickers, stressing that it is unacceptable for the NDLEA to use Nigeria Civil War Weapons in their daily operations while those who use and deal in drugs use modern weapons.
“Part of the reasons why narcotic drug addiction progresses at a geometric progression and the war against it progresses at arithmetic progression is that, while the traffickers flaunt sophisticated weapons, NDLEA operatives chase them with archaic weapons, such as the ones used during the Nigeria -Biafra Civil War! This must change and we are set to make sufficient provisions for the agency in the 2022 budget for you to procure modern weapons.”
Dr Ottah Agbo called on the NDLEA chairman and other top management staff to use their influence to itensify efforts towards getting more people to buy into the idea of amending the Police Trust Fund Act so that it would see the light of day. He also urged them to explore their goodwill to attract donor agencies to make more donations to the agency!