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Now, No Where is Safe (3) by Hassan Gimba



This is the concluding part of this write up, having done parts one and two a few weeks earlier.

“When that is not the case, the victim’s faith in his country gets punctured. With the country’s might demystified in his eyes, he can fantasize about the power and invincibility of his captors. Is that Amuta’s case? In a country weighed down by increasing insecurity, where life has become short, nasty and brutish, such victims may feel they are ‘safer’ in the hands of the terrorists. We need to do a lot of things in Nigeria to help citizens regain their trust in the country.”

The earlier we realise and accept that we are at war with an enemy that draws its strength from Nigerians who believe the system has turned them into second-class citizens, and get their strategies and tactics from the veterans among the rank and file of ISIS, the safer for us.

As a matter of urgency, the government must brace up to fight this war and do all it must to cut off the terrorists’ recruitment base and stop allowing them to prove how strong they are.

Henceforth, citizens everywhere should be made to feel they have governments at all levels that are responsible and sincere and ready to serve them, and not the other way round. We should no longer hinge justice on accidents of birth, geography, and/or religious beliefs, just as they should not be barriers to the prospects of upward social and economic mobility.

We have re-echoed some of this in the write-up with the title, “Pray, who wants Zulum dead?” written on this page on 10 August 10, 2020. 

We had said: “A citizen sees his country in the image of a father. Children lose hope in a father who shirks his responsibilities. They see him as the anonymous lover who, heartbroken, wrote: “I am afraid to love you again. But whenever I see you, I just want to hold you in my arms forever. You had promised to protect me forever and never to hurt me for once, but you have broken that promise, just the way you have shattered my heart, too.’

“The yet-to-be-found Chibok girls and all their loved ones can say these words about their fatherland. All Nigerian children and their loved ones kidnapped or killed by Boko Haram in the North-East or its other arm, the bandits in the North West and North Central, can borrow these words too. Even those released after their people have paid their ransom can adopt these words. Nigerians who believe more could have been done will be at home with these words. Do you think those appalled at how Boko Haram terrorists who were “rehabilitated” and released into society disappear will not see these words as apt?”

Government must also be law-abiding for citizens to follow suit. In another article, “El-Zakzaky, Police/Shia Clashes: A word of Caution,” written on April 30, we captured that when we said: “The government, which should show Nigerians, through its actions, that court orders are obeyed, has rather committed the same offence it was accusing the Shias of – not obeying constituted authority and an arm of the same government…hard to swallow but the best in the circumstances is for government to accept the verdict of the Judiciary, an arm of government in a democracy…However, from whatever angle you look at it, the government’s disrespect of a court order does not portray it in good light. Such acts breed malcontent and also imply a festering breach of law and order by citizens, leading to anarchy.”

Without a doubt, justice is a critical component of having a safe and peaceful society. Crimes must not only be investigated, but punished. In “Of goose, justice and equality” written on this page on November 30, 2020, we wrote, “Our rulers know we are a people with selective amnesia. So they play with us, hiding the iniquities of their class against the nation whenever appropriate. Just recently, our judicial system regaled us with cases of Siemens and Haliburton and Dasukigate with some culprits coming to courtrooms in wheelchairs. Where are they and what is the status of the cases?

In the treatise, “Pray, who wants Zulum dead?” We pointed out that a state governor, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, had in May this year accused Major General Jamil Sarhem, GOC 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, of involvement in illegal oil bunkering in his state and the army said they would investigate. We then said, “but we are yet to hear the report of the army’s investigation”. Who has heard, please?

“We no longer talk of our Chibok girls or Sadiq Ogwuche, the man who masterminded the bombing of Nyanya in the FCT on April 14, 2014, in which at least 88 Nigerians perished and over 200 others were injured. Even recently, there were explosive revelations at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but, well, this case too might have gone with the wind. Failing to pursue cases of the infringement of the law only breeds more lawbreakers. At the end of it all, the government may lose control, and the nation will end up the loser. We are gradually seeing what Latin American countries went through in the 80s and 90s that made the world regard them as Banana Republics.

“While not pursuing justice is a recipe for disaster, inequality before the law breeds malcontents and the feeling of not being treated with fairness. A nation is to its citizens what a father is to his children. Just like we expect a father to hide his preferences and treat his children equally, a nation should treat its citizens with equality and fairness, irrespective of any natural or assumed differences. Death is death, and I see no reason why powers that be can stand still for a dead minister’s daughter and not for scores of citizens slain by terrorists.

“We can only get it right as a nation when we treat everyone with equality. Our judicial system and law custodians must also treat people with equality concerning their crimes. An instance that need not leave the consciousness of good citizens has to do with a comparison between Shiites in Zaria and #EndSARS protesters. The army ended the lives of the Shiites in numbers for blocking a road. In contrast, the #EndSARS protesters who blocked streets in Abuja for days got treated with awe. Was it an oversight, travesty of justice or just selective application of the law, assuming there is a law that says blocking roads attracts summary execution? Some said it was because they touched the chest of a General. But a General, even though newly retired, was killed and cannibalised elsewhere with no retribution. So, where is equality before the law? Take note; I am not saying there should be retribution in the latter case. No breach of the law or extrajudicial killing is excusable.”

But we never tire of echoing what we believe will set our country on the path of righteousness. For writing under the topic, “Nigeria: How do I begin?” on June 22, 2020, we still asked: “Will the yet-to-be-investigated allegation of Nyesom Wike against a general engaged in ‘oil bunkering’ be a good beginning or the case of the murdered and cannibalised General Idris Alkali take the honour? Perhaps the forgotten case of the vehicles found in the Dura Du Lake of death or maybe the report of the post-2011 election violence or, better still, that of the PDP woman leader burnt alive in Kogi or perhaps Bola Ige’s, Funsho Williams’? Many others are competing for attention. For instance, who killed Deputy Commissioner of Police Usman Umar one year ago? What happened to the Chibok inquiry or Rotimi Amaechi’s allegation that Femi Fani Kayode collected N2 billion as aviation minister and bolted away with it?

“I do not think I should also begin with any of the plethora of cases we abandoned and swept under the carpet. It suffices to say such an attitude, either out of selective amnesia, sentiments based on any affiliation or personal interest based on any mundaneness, breeds nothing but the feeling of injustice and unfairness. That gives rise to discontent and malcontents which make people become prosecutors, judges and executioners in matters that otherwise they would willingly submit to the authorities. And our security and judicial systems get mired in confusion.

“Once a nation-state finds itself in such a situation, only a few options are left for it to continue. Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio’s ethos for a nation’s survival should become a national creed. Its leaders must urgently embrace justice and fairness and the laws of the land must equally apply to king and serf. Then the leaders must truly see leadership as service to the fatherland and not a means for them and their families to aim at owning the land. In his book, Bayan Wujub Al-Hijra, the revered scholar, revolutionary and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, said: ‘A kingdom can endure with unbelief, but it cannot endure with injustice.’”

The easiest way to serve the people is to empower them to easily access basic needs. The little money in their pockets should be valuable enough to guarantee that. Once the people can afford basic needs because of leaders’ efforts, the crime rate and discontent will take flight. What way is better to empower than to provide work for the majority?

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As Fidelity Bank Remains Investors’ Toast



In an increasingly uncertain macroeconomic environment, Fidelity Bank Plc has remained appealing in the banking sector.

This is evident in its full year 2022 financial results which showed a better-than-expected performance amid the headwinds in the economy.

Specifically, in the full year 2022 results, Fidelity Bank’s gross earnings increased to N337,050 billion as of December 31, 2022, significantly higher than the N250,776 billion recorded at the end of 2021.

Also, Fidelity Bank’s Net Interest Income climbed to N152 billion in the year under review, up from N94.879 billion the previous year.

Also, its profit before income tax stood at N53.677 billion in the year under review, higher than N25.215 billion the previous year.

Fidelity Bank’s profit after tax for the year under review stood at N46.724 billion, higher than the N23.104 billion it realised in 2021. Additionally, its total assets increased to N3.989 trillion in 2022, up from N3.278 trillion in 2021.

While its loans and advances to customers in the year under review stood at N2.116 trillion in the year under review, up from N1.658 trillion the previous year, customers’ deposits grew to N2.580 trillion, higher than N2.024 trillion the previous year.

Owing to this, the Board of Directors of the bank have proposed a final dividend of 40 kobo per share which in addition to the 10 kobo per share earlier declared as interim dividend amounts to N0.50 per Ordinary Share of 50 kobo (2021: Dividend of N0.35 per Ordinary Share of 50 kobo each amounting to N10,136,904,992.20) from the retained earnings account as of 31 December 2022.

On the back of an impressive first half 2022 results, Fidelity Bank had declared an interim dividend payment of 10 Kobo per 50 Kobo ordinary share, subject to appropriate withholding tax, to shareholders whose names appear in the Register of Members as at the close of business on September 12, 2022.

The interim dividend payment was the first in the bank’s 34 years history. Fidelity Bank had reported a remarkable 21.6 per cent growth in its half-year 2022 profit to N25.1 billion.

Since she assumed the position of the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc in 2021, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe has made it clear that her target is to deliver a financial institution that meets all stakeholders’ expectations, even as she continues to push the bank to rise to be among the tier-one banks in the country.

In August 2022, Fidelity Bank intimated the public of its proposed acquisition of Union Bank United Kingdom as part of its expansion plans and in line with regulatory stipulations.

The bank’s plans to acquire a 100 per cent stake in Union Bank UK marked its first foray into the international market.

Commenting on the transaction, Onyeali-Ikpe stated, “This transaction aligns with our strategic plan of expanding our service touchpoints beyond the Nigerian market and providing straight-through services that meet and exceed the needs of our growing clients.”

Indeed, the Nigerian banking sector is evolving, with the changes being driven by competition, accelerated adoption of technology and the move by banks to meet the banking lifestyle of an evolving demography.

This has seen a lot of banks, including Fidelity, embrace innovative means to satisfy their customers.

It also organised the Fidelity International Trade and Creative Connect (FITCC), which is the largest trade exhibition by Nigerian-based businesses in the United Kingdom in recent times.

It was a major move in increasing Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

At the end of the maiden edition which held in London, it recorded pipeline deals of over $200 million, more than 100 exhibitors from Nigeria with product offerings ranging from processed food to fashion, fintech and the arts and over 2,000 attendees over two days.

“In collaboration with our strategic partners, we have created this platform to connect Nigerian exporters with UK buyers.

This inaugural edition of the FITCC hosts more than 100 exhibitors from Nigeria with product offerings ranging from processed food to fashion, fintech and the arts.

“Fidelity Bank is a leading financial institution in Nigeria and a market leader in supporting small and medium scale enterprises and export-oriented businesses.

This event is therefore an extension of the support that we provide to the business ecosystem in Nigeria as work to help them compete favourably on the global stage,” Onyeali-Ikpe said in her welcome remarks at the event.

It is expected that the impressive financial would continue to attract investors to the bank even as it continues to meet the expectations of its customers.

Source: Thisdaylive.Com

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It’s indeed a sad observation that what passes as development as we know it happened despite Nigeria’s brimming human capital endowment that has always been coveted by developed countries around the world. It’s also a sad commentary that the country’s political leaders have failed woefully to galvanize the talents and resourcefulness of the Nigerian people for sustainable development.

Of all the inability, if not failure of our political leaders to circle the country’s development wagon around the people, perhaps one of the most disappointingly depressing of these failures has been the exclusion of Nigerians in the diaspora (in real and practical terms) in the nation’s developmental matrix despite several data that has proven that this highly credentialed and resource-endowed critical mass is the bedrock of development in any given society.

Thus, our leaders’ inability to properly situate the diaspora piece on the country’s development puzzle will continue to stunt the nation’s growth, especially in an increasingly globalized world where competition for human and material resources has never been more intense which the fungibility of knowledge happens to be the driving force of this intensity.

To be sure, there has never been a time in the history of the country’s electioneering campaigns that a presidential candidate gave prominence to Nigerians in the diaspora and the opportunity to be actively involved in the electoral process than the creation of a Diaspora Directorate by the Presidential Campaign Council of now president-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

There also has never been a time that a critical mass of Nigerians in the Diaspora was so enthusiastic in supporting a candidate’s presidential aspiration as they did with then-candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the extent that they donated themselves, time, energies, and materials to the campaign.

The political capital that has accrued to the president-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu from Nigerians in the diaspora and their readiness to holistically participate in the nation’s development as never before should, as a matter of urgency, if not priority, be translated and converted to a veritable mechanism for national rebirth and economic growth.

While there’s every indication that the president-elect will actively court the expertise and harness the resources of the Nigerian diaspora community with deliberate intensity, a good starting point in this quest is the creation of a full-fledged Federal Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

In lieu of when diaspora voting would become manifest in the nation’s body politic—-which is the political component of their overarching desire to participate in the country’s development—-the shortest route by the incoming Tinubu government to addressing the multifarious socio-economic challenges it will inherit in a few months—-some of which are quite unprecedented but not insurmountable—-the establishment of a diaspora ministry is the next best thing. The ministry, as part of its core mandates, would interface the diaspora community with the three arms of government on the one hand, government MDAs for capacity building and enhancement, and resource allocation for overall national development on the other.

The argument for a full-fledged federal ministry for the country’s diaspora community can be predicated on three key empirical factors; and these are population, literacy, and financial endowment by way of remittances.

Although a very close approximation of the Nigerian population in the diaspora may be difficult to ascertain due to a lack of up-to-date data and illegal migration, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Nigeria had a Diaspora population of 1.7 million people as far back as 2017. While this figure can be used as a base measurement to advance an argument, it’s chronically on the low ebb of the population scale because of the spike in the emigration of Nigerians from their country of birth since the year in which the data was issued.

What’s more, it can also be said without any fear of contradiction that Nigerians who migrated illegally to different countries of the world probably surpass those whose migration was done within the confines of the laws of their host countries.

Aside from this outdated UN population data on diasporic Nigerians, data from other sources estimate that the diaspora population is between 15 and 17 million people. This is a staggering population.

Even if one is compelled to use the 1.7 million UN data baseline, the fact remains that the Nigerian diaspora population is still far more than the population of about 30 countries of the world including Brunei, Suriname, Luxembourg, and Montenegro just to mention a few.

However, the 15 million population data from other sources also means that the Nigerian diaspora population outshines more than the population of 100 countries of the world including—-in no particular order—-the Republic of Guinea, Rwanda, Tunisia, Belgium, Jordan, the Dominican Republic, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Hungary, the State of Israel, Switzerland, Austria, Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, and Lebanon and a host of other countries.

From the foregoing, therefore, the Nigerian population in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, not to say the African continent, conveniently passes for a nation that would automatically be accorded its rightful place in the comity of nations and global institutions.

Nigerians in the diaspora are hardly liabilities to their host or adopted countries even with their illegal status as they are mostly hardworking. They are a successful population that contributes in no small measure to the GDP of their host countries because they have the highest literacy rate among immigrants from other developing and underdeveloped countries.

According to the Financial Times, in the United States where there is a higher concentration of Nigerians in the diaspora among the developed countries, Nigerians are the most highly educated of all groups, with 61 percent holding at least a bachelors degree compared with 31 percent of the total foreign-born population and 32 percent of the US-born population.

The publication went further in its analysis that, “more than half of Nigerian immigrants (54 percent) were most likely to occupy management positions, compared with 32 percent of the total foreign-born population and 39 percent of the US-born population. Similar Nigerian literacy successes are reflected in the UK, “where many highly-educated diaspora works in financial services, IT, and the legal and medical professions among other high-end professions.

A reasonable deduction can then be made that if the population of Nigerians in the diaspora is so significant that it can constitute a country with its high literacy rate, it goes without saying that they would be imbued with higher incomes which would translate into increased financial receipts for their country. And this is where their remittances come in.

According to World Bank data, as of 2018, the Nigerian Diaspora remittance was $24.31bn; it dropped to $23.81bn in 2019 and in 2020 it fell to $17.21bn. This means that the Nigerian Diaspora population remitted $65.34bn in three years to boost economic activities in their country of birth.

At the US-Africa Leaders Summit on December 13-15, 2022 in Washington, D.C President Muhammadu Buhari said while addressing a town hall meeting of his country’s citizens that, “Nigerians in the diaspora remitted more than 20 billion dollars in 2021.” The president added that in this same year, “our diaspora home remittances through official channels stood at 20 billion dollars which is four times more than the value of our Foreign Direct Investment.”

Please pay attention to the “through the official channel” phrase by the Nigerian President. This phrase implies that the amount remitted to Nigeria in 2021 was certainly far more than 20 billion dollars. But because there’s no mechanism with which to record the remittances from the unofficial channels hence the $20 billion figure. And these unofficial channels are multifaceted.

Aside from the fact that diaspora remittances have in most cases been recorded as significantly more than the country’s oil receipts, it should also be recalled that the remittances of Nigerians in the diaspora were the most significant foreign receipts that kept the Nigerian economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic that lasted for more than a year.

From all development indicators, Nigeria is still classified as an underdeveloped country. There is therefore no excuse for an underdeveloped economy such as Nigeria not to have had a Ministry that’s solely dedicated to its diaspora given the aforesaid when ‘first world’ economies such as the State of Israel and South Korea have cabinet-level diaspora ministries.

Other countries with stand-alone ministries for their diaspora citizens, although with different nomenclatures include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, India, Jamaica, Morocco, and Senegal to name just a few.

One hopes that the creation of the United States Diaspora Advisory Council by the Biden administration—-the first of its kind in US history—-is not another strategic, long-term national interest to put the African continent in a sleep mode now that there’s an increasing number of the African diaspora in the cabinet position as well as the policy environment of the US government. Barring this conjecture, this is an opportune time for Nigeria to actively engage its diaspora citizens to positively influence the policies of developed economies toward Africa.

It should be stressed that the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) which is currently spearheaded by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa would most likely have been moribund by now if not for her personal exertion and exemplary leadership quality because the commission was erroneously subsumed—-perhaps deliberately so to make it ineffectual—-in the domain of a pathetically uninspiring and lethargic foreign affairs minister who could not craft any futuristic and development-driven foreign policy objectives in his eight years in office. If Nigeria must play in the big league of the global diaspora network that’s currently unfolding before our own eyes in the race for resource mobilization from all angles, then the country needs not only a Diaspora ministry but an indefatigable personality of cabinet rank to push its diaspora envelope.

In conclusion, considering the enormous socio-economic challenges that the incoming Tinubu government will inherit and the fact that some fundamental changes must be made not only to the country’s structure but also its governance system for superlative performance as well as meeting the people’s expectations, the establishment of a Federal Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is sine qua non to the realization of the Tinubu administration’s economic objectives and development aspirations.

Nigerians in the diaspora have demonstrated the wherewithal to positively affect the development of an underdeveloped economy like Nigeria as they have done—-and continue to do—-in their host countries around the world. The time to deliberately and strategically include them in the nation’s development paradigm is now. Anything short of this move would not only be counter-intuitive but would be patently uncivilized.

Femi Odere was the former Senior Special Assistant to former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State on Diaspora Affairs. He was the Chairman of States’ Diaspora Focal Point Officers and former Head of Media and Publicity at the Diaspora Directorate, APC PCC. Femi Odere lives in Iropora-Ekiti and he can be reached at

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To Protect Life, Stop Hard drugs



To Protect Life, Stop Hard drugs

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

Certain occurrences compel the rational thinker to locate the reason for them within the context of altered state of mind or under some influences such as alcohol or hard drugs.

Two of those happened yesterday in Lagos and Enugu, simultaneously.

In Enugu, former capital of Igbo region of Nigeria, No fewer than 10 persons reportedly died in a ghastly motor accident along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Enugu State. The immediate and remote causes are interwoven and located within the faultline of the driver who had momentary loss of visionary judgment probably impaired by some external influences not unconnected with drugs.

It was gathered that the accident happened around 9am near the CBN Bus Stop, in Enugu.

The 18-seater bus with Enugu registration number, XL884 ENU had collided with a trailer truck carrying cement.

An eyewitness told the media that the two vehicles were driving on a single lane due to potholes that have dotted the other lane of the road.

According to the eyewitness identified as Ifeanyi Ejike, the bus was filled with commuters from Abakpa, in Enugu East Local Government Area and was heading to New Market community when the accident occurred.

“The driver whose name we have learnt is Simeon was coming from Abakpa and made attempt to overtake another vehicle in his front that was emitting too much smoke from it’s exhausts. This circumstance could have led to limited vision of the driver.

“As he made an attempt to overtake the vehicle, the trailer was very close and the next thing we heard was a loud sound and the bus was completely damaged. I don’t know how many survived but I counted eight dead bodies on the floor,” he said.

Meanwhile, victims and deceased bodies have been rushed to Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUT-Parklane.

The second scenario happened in Nigeria’s former political capital of Lagos State. The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency and the Nigerian Railway Corporation have blamed the driver of a Lagos State Government staff bus for a fatal train accident which killed six people and injured 96 in the PWD area of the state on Thursday.

Tragedy struck in Lagos a few minutes before 8am on Thursday when a passenger train collided with a fully-loaded staff bus belonging to the Lagos State Government at the PWD rail crossing, off the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

Giving reasons for the deadly crash, the Permanent Secretary of LASEMA, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, told journalists that the bus driver ignored signals from the NRC officials as he was in a hurry to cross the rail.

Also, the NRC, in a statement by its Deputy Director Public Relations, Yakub Mahmood, said the bus failed to obey the instruction of the corporation officials as he overtook other vehicles waiting for the train to pass.

The ill-fated bus with registration no 04A- 48LA was navigating its way to connect the Government Residential Area, Ikeja en route to the state secretariat, Alausa, when it collided with the train at the PWD rail crossing.

The bus was said to be coming from Isolo while the train was heading to Ido from Ijoko, Ogun State.

According to eyewitnesses, the train dragged the bus on its rail for about 100 metres from PWD to Sogunle before getting stuck.

Some panic-stricken passengers of the bus, especially those close to the exit doors, reportedly made frantic efforts to jump off the bus being dragged by the train.

By the time the train and the bus finally stopped on the rail, the bus passengers fell upon one another in their attempts to find their way out of the trapped vehicle. Six passengers died.

What these tragic stories of fatal accidents tell us is the need for sanity on the part of drivers of commercial and publicly owned vehicles. Train drivers also need to be drug free.

The behavioural pattern of the Lagos bus driver as graphically depicted by Lagos government officials and that of the bus driver in Enugu as narrated by eye witnesses, perfectly reminds us about the need for drug free professional and private operations of vehicles on our roads.

This conclusion can easily be deduced when probing question of how a fully functional mind driving a fully loaded bus with over one hundred passengers made up of men, women, children and aged, could have decided to go ahead of a rail crossing fully aware that a speedy train was approaching.

Add it to the fact that the driver of that ill fated Lagos State Government’s staff bus, failed to obey a signal by Railway staff urging him to wait just like many other vehicles before him, but he navigated and proceeded on this tragic accident which is wholly as a result of poor mental judgment that most probably is altered by certain substances, if critically examined (I stand to be contradicted).

This can only be possible if the functionality of the mind is altered and the fastest way to reach altered state of mind is probably through inhalation of hard drugs.

This is why supporting the works of the Brigadier-General Mohammed Buba Marwa –led National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), is pivotal to achieving safer roads and rails, and fundamentally reduced crime rates.

There is no doubt that the efficient protection of life in accordance with the Universal principles of Human Rights encapsulated in both the Universal Declarations of Human Rights and chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution, can be actualised if we combat drug addictions vigorously.

The NDLEA by introducing two things out of the many, has signalled her readiness to help protect life.

The establishment of rehabilitation centres and the 24 hours free telephone centres for drug addicts, are measures that must be sustained and adequately funded by both government and private businesses that have distinguished themselves as patriotic and transparent brands.

Besides, the issue of the expansion of sophisticated crimes that are aided by hard drugs is a global phenomenon. Some recent events points this fact succinctly.

Just a few examples from other recent events around the World will suffice to establish the nexus between hard drug addiction and sophisticated crimes or avoidable errors in Human judgement.

In Greece, a train station manager permitted two trains to travel from the opposite sides of each other at the same time. The result of course was catastrophic to a level that the President of Greece had to publicly apologise to families of the victims, ordered the arrest and prosecution of the train station manager and then the transportation Minister who also apologised profusely for the accident, resigned from his public post.

Thirty six passengers of the train in Greece, died just as report says the Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned Wednesday, saying he felt it was his “duty” to step down “as a basic indication of respect for the memory of the people who died so unfairly.”

The cause of the crash near the Vale of Tempe, about 380 kilometers (235 miles) north of Athens, was not immediately clear, but the stationmaster in the nearby city of Larissa was arrested Wednesday. The police did not release his name.

Media accounts from Greece, say, another two people have been detained for questioning.

Greece media reports that It’s unclear at what speed the two trains were travelling when they ran into each other just before midnight Tuesday, but state broadcaster ERT said it was more than 140 kilometers per hour (87 miles per hour).

However, survivors inyerviewed by the Press in Greece said the impact threw several passengers through the windows of train cars. ERT quoted rescuers saying they found some victims’ bodies 30-40 meters (100-130 feet) from the impact site.

One of the eye witnesses Stefanos Gogakos said it felt like an explosion, while from his rear carriage flames could be seen at the front of the train.

“The glass in the windows shattered and fell on top of us,” he told ERT. “My head hit the roof of the carriage with the jolt. Some people started to climb out through the windows because there was smoke in the carriage. The doors were closed but in a few minutes train staff opened them and we got out.”

Sadly, multiple cars derailed and at least three burst into flames. On Wednesday, one carriage lay atop the crumpled remains of another two.

Earlier today’s morning, a mass shooter killed about 7 Jehovah’s witness worshippers in a hall in Hamburg, Germany. They said the gunman acted alone in Thursday’s attack, and is also thought to be dead. His motives are unknown.

Within this week too in the border area between the USA and Mexico, some drug gangs seized four US citizens who were in Mexico as medical tourists and report said two of those kidnapped were killed.

Sky News reported that the group of four US citizens had travelled from South Carolina so one of them could get a tummy tuck from a Matamoros doctor.

Two others were rescued alive by the Mexican police and taken back to the United States of America.

Specifically, the train accident in Greece, the kidnapping of the Americans in Mexico, and the mass shooting in Germany, can all be located within the context of violent crimes occasioned by most probably by hard drugs.

This is because, it can only take a demented but altered mind, for someone to violently kidnap, open fire in a crowded church or for a train station manager to authorise simultaneously two trains to travel into and out of same station on the rail track at the same time.

Readers can now note that we began this reflection with two tragic accidents in the Nigerian cities of Lagos and Enugu. We then zeroed in on certain similar events that happened within this same period. We then hazarded a guess that the genesis of all these can be traced to drug abuses. We also argued strongly for continuous public support of the incredible works that the NDLEA is doing.

Those facts aforementioned will inevitably lead us to another major documentary on hard drugs in a part of Africa as done by the British Broadcasting Corporation on March 7th 2023. The lesson for us is the need to be vigilant and never allow any government st every level in Nigeria tolerate the control of the public space by drug cartels and barons. The Guardian of Nigeria reported thus: “Known for its coral reefs and beautiful beaches, Seychelles, a tropical paradise located off the coast of east Africa, is visited by thousands of tourists. Yet, beyond the country’s multi-million dollar tourist industry, BBC Africa Eye shines a light on its heroin epidemic.”

In a new investigation by BBC Africa Eye, ‘Seychelles, Heroin and Me’ pieces together a complex picture of how political and socio-economic factors, including poverty and a lack of rehabilitation centres, are contributing to what is now a drug epidemic.

According to Seychelles’ government, based on population, Seychelles – which is made up of 115 islands – has the biggest heroin problem in the world, with around 10 per cent of Seychellois dependent on the drug.

Presented by Joseph Fady Banane, the Seychellois support worker was one of the 10 per cent. Now free of heroin, he uses his experience and role as a support worker to show viewers the true extent of the drug epidemic, while confronting his own painful past and reconnecting with the people he loves.

Meeting drug users, dealers, government officials and the communities caught in the middle, the film captures Fady’s journey as he gains first-hand access to their stories.

He told BBC Africa Eye how he was introduced to drugs: “I was 27 when I first took heroin. Business was not picking up. Sitting outside, I decided to try my first couple of smokes, and that was it for five years. I still don’t know why I started smoking heroin, but part of it was just because I could – drugs were everywhere.” He added: “I became a stranger to my own mum, and my son was taken away.”

Throughout the film, individuals share details on the grueling ripple effect of drugs in their communities and families.

Ravinia Jean, a mother, shares the impact of her son’s death, Tony, who was heroin-dependent and a friend of Fady’s.

“It is hard…it’s very painful.” She revealed her second son, Jude, is also using heroin and has been in and out of prison, where he is still able to buy the drug on credit. She said: “Parents have to pay for it because they will send people to collect the money…Of course, you’re scared. They threaten you. They said they will kill him.”

However, there is still hope for drug-users like Jude. The documentary follows Jude’s journey towards recovery as he finally visits a councillor with hopes to recover from heroin-dependency.

The documentary also captures the common reality of drug-dependency passed from parents to children. Two brothers, Stefan and Roy (not their real names) are heroin-dependent – so was their mother. Stefan’s drug usage started from around the age of 12.

These aforementioned realities of the consequences of drugs that permeate the families over time is not strange to us in Nigeria.

During a recent anti drugs sensitisation programme my organisation-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) did with support from the NDLEA, we heard first hand from pupils of primary schools in Aba abd Owerri who narrated how their poor parents engage in drugs and do drugs in their presence.

This is the reason for urging Nigerians in their millions to back the NDLEA’s two way methodologies of combating this addiction to hard drugs By way of setting up Counselling centres through free phone services for drug addicts and the setting up of drug rehabilitation centres across Nigeria.

Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) had said that drug users and addicts no longer have excuses not to seek treatment with the commissioning of a modern 24/7 call centre set up to attend to Nigerians having drug challenges from all parts of the country.

Marwa spoke at the commissioning of the NDLEA call centre with a toll-free helpline manned by professionals and experts in counselling, psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry among others in Abuja on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

According to him, “the provision of this toll-free helpline is a milestone in our resolve to broaden access to quality health care for drug users in the country. This has become a necessity and a strategic intervention in our determined effort to bring under control the increasing cases of drug use disorder and related health concerns.”

He said though the country has treatment centres, while NDLEA has 26 treatment facilities across its commands, they are nevertheless grossly inadequate in the face of statistics of drug users and those suffering from drug use disorder

“NDLEA recognised the importance of providing a safety bubble for users who ordinarily cannot access the conventional treatment services at established rehabilitation centres due to poverty, social stigma and the resultant discrimination attached to being an identified drug user in society, among other factors. Therefore, the inevitability and the utility of a toll-free helpline that guarantees anonymity, confidentiality and safety, as a motivation for those in need of health help to freely seek such.

“The NDLEA Call Centre is manned by a team of licensed and credible clinical psychologists, counsellors, support workers and mental health professionals who would provide the needed support in aiding recovery, managing social and emotional problems, improving quality of life and enhancing performance and productivity of the users of the service. With its state-of-the-art equipment and its team of highly trained professionals in substance abuse disorder, this centre offers a teletherapy service according to global best practices.

“The benefit of the Call Centre is manifolds. Aside from helping us in providing telephone-based psychosocial support and addiction services in the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), it will at the same time provide us with information that will deepen our understanding of the country’s dynamics of drug use and potentially put us ahead of the game.

“To those in need of help, we open a new chapter today, whereby help is just a phone call away. We have simplified the helpline service by making it language-sensitive whereby callers have the choice of language including English, Pidgin, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. And very importantly, the helpline is open 24/7. A call to the helpline, 0800 1020 3040, elicits a prompt response from professionals, regardless of the time or geographic location.

The calls open the door to engagements with counsellors, followed by service orientation that leads to case management, at which point the engagement moves from telephone assessment to follow-up therapy sessions and referral. This seamless process ends in Resolution and Aftercare Follow-Up. Given the simplicity of the process, there is no valid excuse for not accessing treatment by drug users and their concerned families. We expect those concerned to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Also, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it will establish six standard rehabilitation centres in each geo-political zone of Nigeria starting from 2022.

The Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) disclosed this at the 5th Biennial National Symposium on Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria.

Marwa, who was the Guest of Honour at the symposium, said that the decision was part of efforts to treat the high number of persons suffering from drug addiction in the country.

He said that when established, the centres would complement various efforts by the Federal, State and Local Governments.

Marwa said that three of the centres would start next year (this year 2023) as already proposed in the 2022 budget.

“Substance use and abuse around the world including Nigeria is on the increase in terms of the proportion of the world population.

“Findings from the National Drug Use Survey (2018) conducted by the UNODC revealed that 14.4 per cent or 14.3 million Nigerians aged 15 to 64 years had used a psychoactive substance in the past year for non-medical purposes.

“This means that One in Seven persons has used some substances other than alcohol and tobacco.

“More worrisome is the finding that among every four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman.

“Above findings of the survey by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) give a troubling portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria and we can no longer live in denial that Nigeria has a thriving illicit drug culture.”

General Marwa said that the agency had also appealed to state governments to build more habitation centers, as existing ones were inadequate.

The NDLEA chairman added that there was no doubt that substance use was impacting negatively on the individual, family and the society in general.

“Substance abuse affects the physical, social and psychological levels of the user and family members.

“Evidence has shown that COVID-19 infections are higher or more common with people diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders (SUD).

“Hence, addiction care must be reinforced in order to avoid complications of SUD and COVID-19.

“Reducing the demand for illicit drugs in the society depends to a large extent on the successful treatment of existing drug users.

“This fact accounts for the shift in global drug policy viz the treatment of drug problems as a public health issue.

“Consequently, we have operationalised our Standard Practice and Policy Guidelines, a treatment and rehabilitation document developed in conjunction with UNODC.

“The document, like a field manual, provides synergy among our counsellors and further boosts our capability at treatment and rehabilitation,”Marwa said.

He enjoined all stakeholders and individuals to join NDLEA war against the growing threat of substance in the nation, saying that NDLEA could not do it alone.

There is the need for government agencies such as the Road Safety Commission, the Nigerian Railways, the Nigerian Police, Correctional centres and the Youths ministry including the NYSC, to find a way to partner actively with the NDLEA so road users caught in conflict with the law are examined for drugs, police operatives examined for drugs before each operation that involves handling of weapons and Railway drivers also need to undego compulsory drug tests. Nigerian prison institutions are saturated with hard drugs. This phenomenon is a disturbing scenario but not so much is done by government and ironically, both the staff of Correctional homes and inmates are in deep unholy communion to commercialise hard drugs amongst inmates. The NDLEA needs to also work on sanitising the prisons of drugs.

Conclusively therefore, supporting the NDLEA to execute their mandates is a patriotic duty and indeed a civil duty for all law abiding Citizens of Nigeria. I suggest that amongst the priority areas for determining who wins national honours in Nigeria is the underlying need to make it mandatory that nominees show causes they have executed regarding the campaign against hard drugs.


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