By Adekunbi Lawal
For most Nigerians who once lived in denial of Nigeria’s drug problem, the activities of NDLEA, since Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd) took over the reins of leadership of the agency, has blown away whatever illusion there was.
Week after week, we are fed a diet of arrested drug traffickers and seized drugs. In one year and a half, the agency has arrested almost 19, 000 offenders with some 3, 000 jailed in court, while over 3.6 million kilos of various drugs had been mopped. Recently, the Agency destroyed the largest ever seized drugs, over 560,000 kilograms, in Badagry, Lagos.
Such news is heartwarming. However, there is a worrisome trend in the details: women, once perceived as the weaker sex, are actively involved in drug trafficking. From the statistics of arrests by NDLEA, about four out of 10 drug traffickers arrested are women. Similarly, a study conducted by UNODC (2018) shows that one of four drug users is a woman. A heavily pregnant woman was seen in a viral video on social media smoking, an act that is not just harmful to her but also injurious to the unborn child. Just as well, one of the women arrested by NDLEA in the past two months was also pregnant. There have been no less than eight women, both old and young, arrested in the past three months. Some of these women were no small fry in the drug world; they were equivalent to their male counterparts who were barons and kingpins.
If anything, this development is an indication that the drug problems have eaten deep into our society than we previously acknowledged. And it, therefore, meant that we need to redouble our effort to rid our society of this menace. This is not an assignment for NDLEA alone. It is a collective responsibility of all Nigerians.
In this regard, the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign initiated by NDLEA is a good advocacy programme. I hope that NDLEA will intensify this campaign in the months ahead, and if possible, tweak the programme to bring more awareness to, and engagement with women.
On our part―we, the society―in the light of the facts from NDLEA arrests, we owe a duty to posterity to pay attention to our daughters and let them know why they should stay away from illicit drugs. It is a grave mistake to continue to believe that it is only the male child that experiments with illicit drugs or that only male adults trade and traffick in illicit substances.
- Adekunbi Lawal writes from Festac town, Lagos.