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Reports on Naira Marley’s appointment as NDLEA ambassador outright falsehood

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, says its engagement with music star Afeez Adeshina Fashola popularly known as Naira Marley, is to encourage him to use his skills and platforms to put out content that will discourage millions of his followers and Nigerian youths from substance abuse.
On Thursday, August 17, 2023, the artiste led members of his team on a visit to the National Headquarters of the Agency in Abuja to express his readiness to join the fight against drug abuse in the country.

According to the anti-drug agency, in a statement signed by Femi Babafemi, its Director of Media and Advocacy, this clarification became necessary following continued misrepresentation of the purpose of the visit, especially on online platforms where some reports suggest that the British-Nigerian singer was appointed as an NDLEA Ambassador. This is misleading and an absolute falsehood, as the pictures of the visit and the short video containing Naira Marley’s advocacy message to his followers were properly captioned and shared by the Agency without any suggestion of such an appointment.

The decision by the Agency to encourage Naira Marley, with over seven million followers, half the population of those who abuse drugs in Nigeria, to use his platform to share anti-substance abuse messages as opposed to using the same to promote and glamourize drug abuse with the dire consequence of misleading millions of Nigerian youths into their peril, is to create a balance between our drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction efforts.

This is also in line with the Agency’s whole society approach to the fight against drug abuse, and in tune with global best practice as well as the theme for this year’s World Drug Day; People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.

When an artiste, who professes marijuana is good for seven million followers turns a new leaf after some serious counseling, do we reject him, turn our backs on him, and allow him to continue in his old habit, or do we accept him, give him a chance so he can reach out to his followers to quit substance abuse. In other words, why should we take our anti-drug abuse advocacy messages to schools, churches, mosques, market places, motor parks, Nollywood, Kannywood, traditional rulers, labour and the entertainment industry, but when one of their members accepts to turn a new leaf, we turn our backs on him? These are questions those opposed to Naira Marley’s needed change may have to ponder.

Indeed, no one is better suited to take the message against drug abuse to the Marlians than the head of the same movement. This is no time for mischief or cynicism, but at the right moment, we all need to encourage the singer and hold him accountable for his public commitment against substance abuse in his video message to his followers, in the overall interest of our youth.

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