The United States of America has finally deleted Nigeria from the list of major drug countries for the first time since 1991. President Barack Obama announced that the reason for removing the country’s name from the list was because she no longer met the criteria for the list according to the US law.
Nigeria was hitherto considered a major transit (though not a producer of opium or other related drugs) point for narcotic drugs coming from The Latin America into the United States of America. Placing the country on the major drug list actually dented her image for a very long time. The government of this country did all that was humanly possible to reverse the ugly trend and improve the image of the country that was already battered by corruption.
However, countries like Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Burma, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela are on the list this year.
The Nigerian government tackled this problem with all seriousness it deserved, using a pragmatic approach; to ensure that the country did not only get deleted from the black book of the American government, but also regained her respect in the committee of nations.
How did Nigeria get deleted?
1. Massive anti-drug campaign: The government embarked on a massive anti-drug campaign using both the print and electronic media to ensure that her citizenry knew the consequences of drug peddling and drug use. This helped to reduce the number of people seeing the illicit trade in drugs as a quick way to prosperity.
2. Punitive measures: The government also enacted laws that made the use of or selling of narcotics a punishable offense. Culprits were prosecuted through the due process of law and when found guilty, were sentenced to several years jail term to make the trade unattractive. Besides, properties proved to have been acquired through this illicit business were also confiscated by the government.
3. Security measures: The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had several security measures in place to detect those smuggling out the drugs through our borders. The use of sniff dogs and body scanners were part of the measures put in place to ensure that those carrying narcotics in their luggage or hidden in their bodies were easily fished out at the airports.
4. Internal measures: The NDLEA was also able to reduce the cultivation of hard drugs like the Cannabis Sativa within the country by going from state to state, destroying the drug farms and burning them up. This helped to minimize the number of youth going into farming on hard drugs. The essence of destroying the Cannabis farms was to send a strong message to the farmers that any kind of psychotropic drugs would not be tolerated in the country.
Now that the name of the country has been deleted from the bad list there is need to consolidate on our achievements and not to rest on our oars as this could be dangerous should we fail to realize that there is the possibility of the drug barons regrouping to continue the trade if the security measures are relaxed.
To avert any kind of relapse, there should be proper monitoring of our national borders to be sure that no hard drug finds its way into our shores anymore. Imported goods (especially the ones coming from Latin America) should be thoroughly searched at our borders before they are allowed into the country.
There should be alternative businesses for those who have been prosecuted and rehabilitated so they won’t think of going back into peddling in narcotics anymore. They should also be given a new reorientation to make them realize there is pride in getting wealth through the legitimate way.
This development should be seen as a major step in the right direction for the Barack Obama’s government to regain her popularity especially in Nigeria and Africa in general. The war against trading in narcotics or psychotropic drugs should be seen as a collective one. Therefore, everyone should join in the fight to rid the world of ill-gotten wealth, drug-induced psychoses and violent crimes. The world would be a better place to live in if the war is won in the long run.