By Friday Idachaba
ActionAid Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to fix structural deficits and drivers of violent extremism in its effort to address the spate of violence and insecurity in the country.
Resilience Programme and Consortium Coordinator, ActionAid Nigeria, Mr Anicetus Atakpu, made the call during a four-day dialogue on Community of Practice (COP) on Tuesday in Lokoja.
Atakpu said that ActionAid as one of the principal recipients was hosting the quarterly COP which it themed: Advocacy and Policy Influencing in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) implementation in Nigeria.
Addressing the participants in his opening remarks, the Coordinator declared that conflict and corruption were fundamentally driven by Social Injustice, Bad Governance, Unequal Opportunities, Poverty, Uneven Development, Inequality and Ethno-Religious Secondary Causes.
He added that while violence was clearly perceptible, there had been inadequate attention to its drivers just as response plans had also been missing response.
He said that ActionAid Nigeria through its “System and Structure Strengthening Approach Against Radicalization to Violent Extremism (SARVE II) Project”, organised the dialogue in collaboration with IGSR, and Women Environmental Programme (WEP).
“We discovered that there are some structural deficits, structural challenges in the system that need to be looked into or need to be fixed for us to actually have the kind of peace that we want.
“One of the core drivers of violent extremism is unemployment and we have it very low currently in Nigeria. And again with the pandemic that just happened, more people dropped below the poverty line in Nigeria.
“When you look at the issues of injustice and Our Court systems. As a speak now, almost all the courts in Nigeria by virtue of the strike action by Judiciary Staff Union Of Nigeria (JUSUN) are grounded. Where is the hope of the common man?
“When you look at the academic system, as we speak the Polytechnics are on strike as a result of strike. There are different strikes going on as we speak in the Legislature and Judiciary arms of government.
The state legislatures cannot sit as we speak because the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) are on strike. These are policy issues and are beyond what the individual can do.
“These are issues, these are policy issues that need to be looked into. So we are saying on our part, that we want to go beyond community engagement and coming out as NGOs, to start addressing issues of policy, law, frameworks that need to happen.
“And regardless of what we do as NGOs or as individuals, it is difficult for us to close that gap and so, we still need the government to come in, in terms of bringing out policy documents, blueprints, maps on where we are going to in terms of job creation”, he said.
The COP was however, being hosted by ActionAid Nigeria with Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID), Global Peace Development (GPD) and Beacon Youth Initiative (BYI) with funding from the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, (GCERF).
Atakpu said the essence of the dialogue was to enable the participants broadly discuss “how CSOs can identify key messages to develop advocacy materials for policy influencing in PCVE implementation in Nigeria.”
Cannabis legislation: NDLEA boss talks tough, disagrees with Gov Akeredolu, lawmakers
**threatens to burn down any farm found with cannabis
The chairman and chief executive officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Brag. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd) has disagreed in strong terms with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and some house of Representatives members that have been pushing for legalisation of cannabis.
Recall that Akeredolu had urged the Nigerian Government to jettison traditional orientation and “archaic” sentiment that said that cannabis is a ‘devil’s plant’.
The Governor at Stakeholders’ Roundtable on the “Benefits and Opportunities of Cannabis Plant in Nigeria” recently urged the Nigerian government to give legal backing to cannabis to enable its use in Nigeria, saying “cannabis is a multi-billion naira industry that can help diversify the Nigerian Economy if judiciously utilised”
The National Assembly also has been making moves for the legalisation of the illicit substance under the guise of its economic value.
However, Marwa who spoke at a press briefing to unveil the week-long program ofactivities in commemoration of the UN Internatiknal Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking in Abuja on Monday said it is a matter of life and money, adding that it is like seeing fire and plunging in to the flame, he said the agency would rather choose life.
“I had the honour to address the Governors forum virtually sometime ago and most definitely the Governor of Ondo brought this matter.
“I can only speak facts. When you plant cannabis yes you sell it and get Billions of Naira but the issue is between life and Money. Life and money which one will you chose? We will choose life.
“Ondo State is the greatest grower of this illicit substance and the NDLEA will continue to burn any farm that we find and arrest the perpetrators.
“It is dangerous it is bad for our health and we will not agree as far as we are concerned.
“I am aware that in the House of Representatives a movement is on by a particular committee to legalise cannabis. That is absolutely within their rights but I doubt if it will be passed.
“Now there is no confrontation or would there ever be between the NDLEA and the Governors forum. To the best of my knowledge it is only one Governor that is pushing for this cannabis matter.
“If you do your arithmetic one divided by 36. He has his absolute right as a Governor to fend for his State. But the law in Nigeria has cannabis as one of the illicit substances and as I mentioned earlier it is between money and life. I think we will chose life.”
He said a global drug survey which is one of the evidence based document that the Agency uses, has it that 10.6m Nigerians use cannabis.
“And if you look at the world’s Cannabis report 2019 it is not 10.6m it is actually 20 million Nigerians. Nigeria is the country with the highest population of people using this drug.
“Always know that it has mind altering substances. Even the Schedule one 1961 convention, schedule 4 of the United Nations said Natikns must continue to exercise strict control over cannabis because of the negative consequences.
“The WHO itself made the Statement that Cannabis still has health issues and we all know that, why will you see fire and go into it. Yes the issue of the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is approved in some countries not in all.
“Now we have to look at our own circumstances here.
It is possible a time will come for us to have a rethink but this is not the time. “This is definitely not the time for Nigerians with the highest prevalence of the use. Go to Lagos State the drug use prevalence is 33% from that survey. Most of that is from cannabis and the Southwest itself.”
On the insinuations that the Staff of the Agency engage in selling of exhibit to the users, he said, “NDLEA Staff don’t sell our exhibits, when we seize they are properly documented in each State command under the direct control of the State commander.
“We have exhibited keepers who are trusted, carefully selected officials and the exhibit rooms are well secured. “The exhibits are documented because of evidence in courts where we take them to, so be rest assured if you got such information it is false.”
On another allegation that some traditional rulers harbor traffickers of drugs, he said, traditional rulers are not exempted from the law.
“It is on record, at least once or twice drugs were seized from the palace and we have also arrested some of them.
“In the business of the drug war nobody is above the law here. Whoever you are in this country.
However, he said the agency is partnering with many traditional rulers in various Nigerian Kingdoms, communities, emirates.
“There are just a few bad eggs and those few ones when we discover, we go after them. We welcome information from the public anywhere you feel some of the traditional rulers are involved infirm us
The week-long activity he said started with the press conference after which he will launch the Standard Policy and Practice Guidelines (SPPG) for NDLEA counsellors.
He said on Tuesday will be a live program on NTA ‘Tuesday Live at 10PM, Wednesday will be NGO day, Thursday is a program on Radio Nigeria by 8am followed by a youth awareness program.
“On Friday, June 25th will be a special Jumaat service in commemoration of the UN day at the National Mosque Abuja.
“Saturday will feature the grand Finale, with the former launch of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) by President Muhammadu Buhari .
“The day will also feature a guest lecture and the unveilingnof the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP) 2021-2025. On Sunday, 27th, of June the week’s activity would be rounded off with a church thanksgiving service.
100 widows, next of kins of fallen NDLEA officers, get Succor as Buhari approves benefits
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the payment of benefits due for about 100 widows and the next of kins of the deceased staff of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) who have been waiting for sometime without any hope.
Chairman and CEO of the Agency Brig. Gen(rtd) Mohammed Buba Marwa made the disclosure on Monday at a press briefing to unveil the week-long program of activities in commemoration of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
He said the widows have been waiting in the wings for sometime for the benefits for which the agency made the recommendation and the presidency graciously approved the payments.
“We have about 100 widows and next of kins, over the years whose benefit have not been paid and I am happy to disclose that the President and commander in chief has approved these payments now.”
He said the Presidency also approved resources for the agency to grapple with the liabilities and the equipment of the Agency.
“So very soon you are going to see heightened activities from well motivated personal that are well poised to face the illicit drug traffickers and all those involved in this nefarious activity”
This he said is part of the agency’s effort at boosting the morale and confidence of officers and men of the NDLEA through practical steps taken to address welfare and career stagnation issues.
To this end, he said he has instituted, among other measures, a bi-monthly assessment and cash-backed award for Best Performing Commands to motivate officers and men on the field.
“Recently, the agency promoted 3, 506 officers who have stagnated in the past years, some for upward of 10, 15 and even 20 years on one rank. One person actually stayed 21 years on one rank.
“Major administrative steps were taken to restore the visibility of the Agency for local and international partnerships. And in five months, we have made appreciable progress.
He disclosed that the agency has been able to apprehend not less than 2, 180 drug traffickers in the country in the last five months, while it has also seized over 2 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs during the period under review.
The CEO of NDLEA said that since he took over the leadership of the agency, “Our painstaking and strategic operational efforts have translated into encouraging results.
“he Agency’s offensive action against drug cartels across the country launched some five months ago, has yielded over 2,180 arrests of drug traffickers and the seizure of over 2 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs. We have filed at least 2,100 drug cases in court, recording over 500 convictions with 1,549 cases pending in court.”
According to him, fighting war against drug abuse and trafficking in a country like Nigeria is a big problem which the NDLEA cannot do alone.
“These results have given us big insights into the magnitude of the drug problem, the work ahead is enormous. NDLEA cannot win the drug war without the help of citizens. We need the cooperation of all and sundry.
“We all owe Nigeria the duty of ensuring that drug abuse and trafficking do not thrive in this country. For us all, it is an urgent assignment, because if we must end youth radicalization, violent extremism, cultism, banditry, wanton kidnapping, insurgency and the like, drug abuse and trafficking must be dealt a decisive blow.
“To win the drug war, NDLEA must synergize with other law enforcement and sister agencies and stakeholders for maximum impact. The simplest contribution that we ask of every patriotic citizen is what is captured by the theme of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking: “Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives.
“We must avail ourselves of every opportunity to drive the message home to Nigerians about the importance of having a drug-free country. At the same time, it is equally important to make our message unmistakably clear to those involved in the trafficking of illicit substances; the cartels, barons and traffickers, that it is time for them quit or face a tough consequence.”
Ooni of Ife urges Bello to pioneer a legacy that will stand him out
The Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, has urged Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to think deeply on what he would pioneer, and what he would stand up and known for.
The traditional ruler spoke at the GYB @ 46 Birthday Symposium, with the theme: ”Insecurity In Nigeria And Role Of The Youth”, organised to mark the 46th birthday celebration of the governor on Friday at Government House, Lokoja.
”The truth must be told as we all know the situation of insecurity currently facing our country. What are you going to pioneer?
”Let us continue to talk to our people by engaging them. We must continue to deliberate on our peaceful coexistence,” he said.
He commended the governor for his achievements in security and for his commitment, focused and energetic efforts to the course of uniting the country.
The Oba promised to always be there for the governor anytime, anyday.
Ogunwusi stressed the need to bring governance to the youths, saying they constituted over 70 per cent of the country’s population, and should be carried along in the scheme of things.
”I feel your spirit, I see your passion, I see your love for the unity of this great nation.
Also speaking, a Resource Person and one of the Panelists, Chief George Moghalu, lauded the governor for his achievements in the state, and urged him to be a role model that the youths of this country would like to emulate.
Moghalu commended the governor for involving a great percentage of women in his government.
He stressed the important roles that families play in ensuring the peace and security of any nation.
”We are in a country where criminals are being celebrated; family moral ethics eroded. There is the need to go back to the basis which is the family and our fundamental problems as a country.
”We have also continued to emphasis on Certificates instead of celebrating quality skills; there is need to diverse the economy of this country.
”Government must create and provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive, because the government cannot do it alone or give jobs to everyone,” he said.
In her comment, Dr Bilkisu Magoro, a panelist, stressed the need for women inclusiveness in governance, saying women knew what the problems were and know how to handle them.
According to her, among all the States in Nigeria, it is only Kogi that has the highest number of women affirmative even more than the required 35 per cent.
”That is why Kogi State is enjoying peace more than any other State. Women should be more involved in governance; more inclusiveness of women in governance is the way to go,” Magoro said.
Also speaking, Prof Chris Nwaokobia, noted that the country had lost that which should hold us effectively together, saying, ”every ethnicity has offended each other at one point or the other.”
According to him, what we should do is to look at things that unite us, and strengthened them and build on them.
”The time has come for us to bury those things that divide us. The time to stop the killing and unite Nigeria is now.
”I believe that the youth of Nigeria can take our country out of the present situation.
”I believe in the capacity of GYB to take our country to greater heights,” he said.
In his response, the Governor noted that his administration is sincere, transparent and decisive, inclusive and opened to all irrespective of tribe, ethnic or religious differences.
”Our government is inclusive. We sort for the best hands for those who are ready to serve; my cabinet includes all the major tribes in Nigeria.
”We are raising young leaders that will take over from us because there is time for everything.
”I will implore our leaders and fathers to pay attention to what we have done in Kogi State. Whether anybody believes it or not, Kogi is the most peaceful State in Nigeria,” Bello said.
The highlight of the occasion was the unveiling and launching of a book, titled: ”GYB Through The Cases: A Compendium Of Historic Electoral Challenges And Victory”, authored by Shadrach Emmanuel.
Other dignitaries at the event were the Deputy Senate President, Ovi Omo-Agege; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; and the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrasak; among others.
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