• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Tinubu wants Africa off drug barons’ hook

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has called on Africa to break free from the grip of drug barons and illicit drug syndicates.

He gave this advice at the opening ceremony of the 31st meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLAF) in Abuja.

Speaking through Vice President Kashim Shettima, he urged African drug enforcement agency heads to redouble their efforts in combating substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking within their nations.

“If we don’t dismantle the criminal enterprises that threaten our future and build a brighter tomorrow for all Africans, we will remain in chains in a diseased and amoral world, as will our children and their children,” he told the anti-narcotics agencies’ chiefs.

In his keynote speech titled “Rising Above the Drug Threat”, President Tinubu noted that Africa faced a threat that transcended racial, geographic, gender, and social boundaries.

He encouraged the leaders of drug law enforcement agencies to view the Abuja conference as a beacon of hope and a driving force for positive transformation throughout the continent.

The President, as conveyed by his spokesperson, Stanley Nkwocha, expressed gratitude for their dedication to working towards a world free from illicit drugs.

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He said, “This threat has crossed borders and destroyed societies and dreams. Without the moral commitment of the men and women in this room, this threat would have left cities, countries, and even civilizations erased. So, I must commend you for your sacrifices in the bid to keep our world drug-free, sane, and safe.

“This conference emphasises your investment across borders to protect us from the devastation of drugs, a threat that only submits to the enforcement of the law.

“Therefore, we are grateful to HONLAF and its partners, notably the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, for creating this avenue and for offering intelligence and drug law enforcement officials a grand opportunity to compare notes, collaborate, and build networks that would be several steps ahead of the criminal network of drug transnational organisations.”

Tinubu highlighted that over the past few decades, criminal organisations have aggressively attempted to undermine the security of African nations in their quest to influence the thoughts of their citizens. He acknowledged that anti-narcotics agencies have effectively hindered these criminal efforts.

As the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the President affirmed: “But while it’s a compliment that drug-law enforcement organisations are a threat to their criminal empires, their desperation must never be taken for granted.

“Without you as gatekeepers of healthy nations, humanity as we know it would have long been perverted. So, on behalf of the world, I say: thank you, thank you to all of you who have kept us from being polluted and destroyed.

“For us, the commitment to the fight against drug trafficking and substance abuse is not just a matter of policy; it is a moral imperative. We recognise that a population at war with drugs is not a dividend but a liability. We believe that the future of our youth, the strength of our institutions, and the well-being of our communities depend on our ability to eradicate this threat.”

President Tinubu emphasised the importance of anti-narcotics agencies in enhancing their established connections, reinforcing operational partnerships, and fostering cooperation at both sub-regional and regional levels.

He believed that such measures would create obstacles for illicit drug trafficking and the mobility of drug syndicates across the African continent.

He added: “So, I must appeal to you to see this gathering as an avenue for the exchange of novel ideas and the development of practical strategies. We must consolidate established contacts, operational partnerships, and cooperation to ensure that the outcomes of this four-day deliberation advance public safety and the emergence of drug-free African communities.

“Our strength has always been our proactive actions to prevent any individual or group from turning our countries into a minefield of drug trafficking. So, we must prioritise prevention, education, and rehabilitation to empower our youth with knowledge and opportunities. We must steer them away from the treacherous path of drug abuse and trafficking and protect our economy from the consequences of their actions.

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“This administration will continue to provide the necessary support, motivation, and tools for the NDLEA to fulfil its mandate. We understand the connection between the success of the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking and the attainment of a number of goals on our socioeconomic and security agenda.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I know you don’t need to be reminded of the sacred task before us. I know you are fully aware of the number of people and dreams that depend on your decisions and actions to reach their destination. But, more importantly, I know that you are up to the task.”

Regarding the choice of Nigeria as the conference venue, President Tinubu commended the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for its significant efforts in combating illicit drugs in the country.
Buba Marwa, Chairman of the NDLEA, welcomed the attendees and reaffirmed their collective commitment to addressing the global drug issue.

He stressed the importance of international partnerships in combatting drug trafficking and related crimes, recognizing that addressing the global drug problem requires collaborative efforts.