AKWA IBOM, BAYELSA STATES PLEDGE DRUG CONTROL SUPPORT
The Director General of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Mr. Femi Ajayi says the Agency needs urgent financial intervention if the war against illicit drugs must be won by the country. The DG while lamenting the level of infrastructural decay in the NDLEA’s formations across the country noted that the Agency is the least funded of all the security organisations in spite of its crucial mandate. During an advocacy visits to win more support for drug control programmes, the Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa State Governors pledged to collaborate with the NDLEA in the effective discharge of its functions.
Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio who immediately donated a vehicle and a land for office accommodation for the Akwa Ibom command of the Agency called for increased funding and support for drug control programmes in the country. According to Akpabio, “the consequences of illicit drugs are gradually creeping into our society and the NDLEA must be empowered to rise up to the challenge. The State command will be given an operational vehicle while a suitable portion of land will be allocated for an office complex. It is unacceptable for your officers to live in vulnerable locations”.
Similarly, Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alabo Gideon Ekenwei donated operational vehicle and office accommodation to the Agency. He expressed deep concern over the current state of NDLEA Command office in Yenagua which was originally built for the community electricity generating plant. “Drug problem is a national threat that affects both the rich and the poor. We must take concrete and deliberate measures to check the growing problem of hard drugs. The State command automatically is admitted into the Security Council and will be allocated a befitting accommodation. Where you occupy now is not suitable and does not command respect of a law enforcement Agency”.
The total capital vote for the NDLEA in 2010 is 84.5 million naira, an amount he described as grossly inadequate. In his words, “the entire capital vote for the NDLEA in 2010 is 84.5 million naira. If you appropriate it to the 49 formations of the Agency excluding the national headquarters, each command will get less than 2 million naira. We are already approaching October and less than 20 million naira has so far been released. It is grossly inadequate for an Agency saddled with the responsibility of drug control. What we have as commands in actual sense are dilapidated defunct party houses built in the third republic. I am disturbed with my assessment of NDLEA formations”.
According to Femi “we cannot afford to be complacent over the level of deprivation in the Agency. The consequences of drug trafficking and abuse on individual and society health, economy as well as crime are too dismal to contemplate. It is difficult to divorce drug use from acts like murder, rape, kidnapping, terrorism, cultism and violence. If the United States can vote substantially for drug control programmes, it is a pointer to its damaging effects. Nigeria must learn from the sordid and devastated situation many countries due to illicit drugs activities”.
“Nearly all the commands have challenges of operational vehicles, lack of bullet proof vests, lack of logistic support and even office and residential accommodation are not there. I can tell you that we are efficient for judiciously utilising the meagre resources at our disposal but with regards to effectiveness, I doubt because less than six thousand people cannot effectively police 150 million people” the DG stated.
Mr. Femi also lamented the safety and welfare conditions of NDLEA officers. “The NDLEA officers needs improved welfare and must be protected from the criminals that they are fighting against. There must be more commitment to the drug war. Officers have no bullet proof vests and we must avoid a situation where drug barons will have superior fire arms. We need the support of the Federal Government, the National Assembly, the State and Local Governments. Individuals, corporate organisations and non-governmental organisations must be fully involved in preventing drug barons from over-running our country”.