By Enyichukwu Enemanna
President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday declared open the 31st conference of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLAF) in Abuja where he called for increased efforts to break the continent free from the shackles of the criminal enterprises of drug barons and syndicates of illicit substances.
Represented at the event by his Vice, Kashim Shettima, Tinubu said the continent will remain in bondage if the chain of drug is not broken, and urged heads of national drug law enforcement agencies in Africa to renew the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in their respective countries.
“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 heads of drug law enforcement agencies.
President Tinubu observed that Africa was “at the mercy of a threat that knows neither race nor geography, neither gender nor social class”.
He appealed to the anti-narcotic chiefs to consider the conference in Abuja as a ray of hope and a catalyst for positive change across the continent.
The president, in a statement by presidential spokeman, Stanley Nkwocha, thanked them for their sacrifices in ensuring a world that is free of illicit drugs.
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 bids to keep our world drug-free, sane and safe.
“This conference emphasizes your investment across borders to protect us from the devastations 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, 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 organizations.”
Tinubu noted that in the last couple of decades, criminal organisations had made frantic efforts to breach the security measures in African countries in a bid to pollute the minds of their citizens, adding that the anti-narcotics agencies had proven to be a thorn in their flesh.
The president who doubles as the chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stated: “But while it’s a compliment that drug-law enforcement organizations 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 recognize 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.”
Welcoming guests earlier, Chairman of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), restated the stakeholders’ commitment to addressing the world’s drug problem, noting that Nigeria will continue to uphold the objectives of multilateral organizations dedicated to combating drug trafficking and related crimes.