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The Executive Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon Simon Bako Lalong and the Chairman/Chief Executive, of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (retd) have called for the strengthening of the legal framework to effectively clamp down on drug barons and their accomplices in the country. This call was made at the Regional Academy for Drug Control (RADC) in Jos, the capital of Plateau State at the occasion of the 2016 Command Officers' Summit.
Governor Lalong who was accompanied by the Secretary to the Government of the State, Hon. Rufus Bature and other Executive Council members said that "the global community has signed up for this war against transnational organized crimes and the drug trafficking. Nigeria being a signatory to this conventions and protocols must ensure it continues to strengthen the national framework for sustaining the war. Every government that is determined to have a sane environment will therefore not pay lip service to exterminating illicit drug trafficking".
Lalong while commending the NDLEA for the success recorded in the drug war so far also called for community participation in drug control. He challenged the Agency to ensure that as part of its preventive measures to cultivate collaboration with vital ministries, departments and agencies of government that will help the war to succeed. "Government will continue to do all on her part to mobilize community participation in ridding our society of the menace of illicit drugs. NDLEA cannot succeed without the communities ensuring that they are actively involved in the anti-drug crusade in markets, schools, religious centers and all public places. The State has sustained the war against 'Goskolo', an illicit alcoholic substance across all the Local Government Areas" the governor stated.
The Agency's Chairman in his remarks said that the campaign theme Change Begins with Me: Repositioning NDLEA for Effective and Efficient Performance towards a Drug-Free Nigeria is a deliberate strategy to reengineer the campaign against illicit drugs and psychotropic substances for enhanced performance. "I am optimistic that everyone will leave this summit as change agents, adequately informed to drive the transformation agenda of the present administration. It is expected that Commanders will be better informed with latest success strategies in drug control. They will also be motivated through enhanced service delivery as they compare notes and learn from one another. At the end of the day, practical solutions shall be provided for the seemingly difficult challenges of having a society with zero tolerance for illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse. The theme for this conference is very relevant because it is easier to change others when the leader is changed" he added.
Abdallah promised to eliminate the problems of poor funding, irregular promotions and poor welfare among others. "I am not unmindful of the numerous challenges facing the Agency ranging from poor funding, poor infrastructure and inadequate logistics and poor officers welfare. Let me assure you that I am determined to eliminate these cankerworms and steer the Agency on the path of efficiency and effectiveness. Efforts are currently at advanced stage in sourcing for funds to pay officers their accumulated allowances, regularize promotion exercise and relocate the national headquarters of the Agency to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja" the Chairman promised.Speaking on the NDLEA of his dream, Abdallah said that " My vision is to create a platform for officers of the Agency to be adequately trained, well kitted and highly motivated for excellent performance. I envision an Agency that will be highly proactive and intelligence driven. An Agency that is committed to the dismantling ofdrug syndicates and the provision of best treatment and rehabilitation services to problem drug users. I look forward to transforming NDLEA into one of the best anti-narcotic establishments both in the continent and the entire world. This can easily be achieved through strict law enforcement and respect for merit in all its ramifications. You are all my co-pilots in this flight and I urge you to keep your seatbelt securely fastened and brace up to the challenges". Latest statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the 2016 World Drug Report states that 207,400 drug related deaths occurred in 2014 while about 29 million people are problem drug users. This breath taking revelation according to the Agency is coming few years after the world marked a millennium of drug control; thus necessitating drastic policy review in advancing the campaign against narcotics. "We all know that the world is still grappling with the problem of availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Our country Nigeria used to produce only cannabis sativa but today methamphetamine is also locally produced here. The questions we must answer at this summit among others include; why the proliferation of new drugs and new substances of abuse? Why do people still experiment with drugs when drug users are having difficulty quitting? Therefore, this summit has been convened to enable commanders brainstorm and strategize on best ways to combat the drug menace in the country. It is therefore time for us to change our approach in order to get the desired results" Abdallah stated.
He acknowledged the priceless contributions of Governor Lalong for hosting the Summit this year. The Agency equally expressed appreciation for the support and cooperation of local and international partners both in training and material donations translating to outstanding operational successes. Some of the collaborators include the governments of America, United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland for their efforts and contributions in advancing drug control programmes in Nigeria. The efforts of the European Union (EU) and United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) is appreciated. Officers of the Agency who have toiled day and night in fighting the drug war were also commended.