In a compelling address at the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, NDLEA Chairman and CEO Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) unveiled plans to implement alternative development strategies to eradicate illicit drug cultivation. Marwa emphasized the environmental consequences of drug cartels engaging in deforestation and outlined Nigeria’s commitment to mitigating this damage.
During the third committee session, Marwa highlighted the agency’s efforts to address substance abuse and illicit drug production, emphasizing the need for comprehensive solutions. He expressed concern over the increased online activities of drug traffickers, especially on the dark web, post-COVID-19 pandemic, calling for international collaboration and capacity-building to tackle this growing threat.
Marwa revealed Nigeria’s ongoing amendments to relevant drug laws, strengthening its legal framework. The NDLEA is actively expanding bilateral and multilateral cooperation through memoranda of understanding with countries and agencies. These agreements focus on intelligence sharing, exchange programs, joint operations, and capacity building.
The NDLEA’s alternative development plan aims to provide cannabis farmers with better options, including agricultural loans and improved seedlings. Marwa highlighted the agency’s commitment to identifying gaps, dismantling drug trafficking cartels, and providing access to treatment and counseling services.
In line with the 2030 SDG agenda, Marwa emphasized Nigeria’s whole-of-society approach to countering drug trafficking challenges. The NDLEA is actively promoting evidence-based drug prevention, treatment, and care programs, addressing the issue of stigmatization and discrimination against individuals with drug use disorders.
To bolster drug demand reduction strategies, the NDLEA has introduced initiatives such as a 24/7 toll-free call center for counseling and care. Marwa also pointed to progress in early prevention programs in schools and communities, including the Unplugged Drug Programme in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the MTN Foundation.
Marwa concluded by highlighting the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP) 2021–2025, Nigeria’s strategic document addressing the global drug problem. The plan involves stakeholders at all levels of government and employs a multi-agency intelligence-led model to disrupt drug trafficking cartels.
The War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy campaign, complementing the NDCMP, involves non-governmental organizations and civil society groups, creating awareness among various segments of society about the dangers of drug abuse and the need for collective action.