A member of the House of Representatives and the Chairman of the House Committee on Narcotic Drugs, Dr Francis Ottah Agbo, has proposed an amendment to the Police Trust Fund Act to include the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, as one of the beneficiaries of the fund.
A statement signed by Dr. Ottah Agbo’s media adviser, Mr. Andrew Agbese, said the Honourable Member made the call at a workshop on ‘Drug Abuse and Rape: The Road Not Taken,” organised by the committee in collaboration with a non governmental organisation, Christabel Initiatives which held at the National Assembly complex today.
Dr. Ottah Agbo in his remarks, said the NDLEA performs similar functions with the police in terms of arrest, investigation and prosecution of drug and drug related criminals but regretted that the agency is grossly underfunded, underequipped and understaffed to carry out its statutory functions.
He said the Police Trust Fund Act should be amended to “Policing Trust Fund” so as to include the NDLEA due to its importance as a policing agency.
While stressing that Narcotic drug addiction is a catalyst for terrorism, banditry , rape, suicide and Savage violence in Nigeria , the Lawmaker said if the problem is quickly addressed, it has the capacity to destroy the most productive section of the populace and by implication, the future of the country.
Dr. Ottah Agbo, who represents Ado/Ogbadigbo/Okpokwu Federal Constituency, said he is working round the clock to ensure that the problem of underfunding of the NDLEA is addressed so that it can bark and bite.
He stressed that it is by preventing Narcotic drug addiction and waging war against the menace that the future of the country would be guaranteed.
“I’m very hopeful we can achieve that in this 9th Assembly and solve to a large extent, the underfunding of NDLEA.
“As far as the problems remain, we would continue to hammer on the problem of drug addiction which progresses at geometric progression while the strategies and effort to combat it progresses at arithmetic progression.
It is high time we nip narcotic drug addiction in the bud, for if we fail to destroy narcotic drug addiction, it will destroy Nigeria,” he stated.
The lawmaker identified the problems militating against effective fight against drug addiction as underfunding, lack of adequate personnel, lack of equipment and weapons among others and lamented that the situation where the NDLEA has an average of one vehicle to six local governments and use weapons used during the Civil War’ do not augur well for the country.
He said in terms of personnel, the NDLEA has an average of one staff to a local government with only eight sniffer dogs, a number he noted is not enough to monitor Lagos State alone .
“If we feel the youths are leaders of tomorrow and we allow them to destroy themselves with hard and narcotic drugs, then where lies the future of this country?” he enthused.
Nkem Abonta who is a member of the committee Saif the NDLEA is so grossly underfunded that its annual budget is less than what the Presidency uses for “tea party….”
While attributing executive rascality, judicial rascality and accidental discharge to drug addition, Abonta said the menace has eaten deep into the society so much so that Nigeria’s drug addiction profile is 300 percent above the accepted rate!
Chairman of NDLEA, Col Mohamed Abdullahi (Rtd) in his remark, said there’s a need for all Stakeholders to put hands together and fight the menace of drug addiction as the problem is a global one.
He observed however that the awareness is expanding as people no longer doubt that the problem exists.
He said Nigeria deserves a better society than the one threatened by drug problems.
Chairperson of Christabel Initiatives, Christabel Okoye in her welcome address said the problems of drug abuse and rape have become a pandemic.
“It has become a general war which has brought all of us together, seeking the best way to bring it to zero tolerance,” she stated.
Good will messages were delivered by the representative of UNODC , Dr. Femi Ajayi and the representative of NAPTIP, Tolu Odugbesan and others. While Ajayi called on the National Assembly to increase the budgetary allocation to NDLEA to enable it function optimally, Odugbesan said narcotic drug addiction is at the centre of human trafficking, and called on all stakeholders to work together to combat it!