Drug integrity test for public office holders

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has written to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), urging the party to include drug tests as part of its screening of aspirants on their platforms.

The request was made Wednesday by its chairman Buba Marwa during the 2022 First Quarter Best Performing Commands Awards ceremony at the agency’s national headquarters in Abuja.

A similar letter according to the narcotic agency will be sent to the main opposition party, PDP, and others even as all the18 registered political parties justle to meet the INEC deadline of June 3 for submission of the names of aspirants for various elective positions in the 2023 general elections.

Marwa said: ‘for politicians, we have long advocated and I take the opportunity again to repeat the advocacy that when they run for public office it demands a lot of responsibility from the person and we need to be certain if he’s a person that is already a drug addict/user who will spend all the money he’s given for public service to consume cocaine and his head will not be in a stable condition to handle the affairs he has been entrusted with. For this reason, we have advocated and will continue to advocate that drug tests be conducted for politicians; some state governments like Kano state is already doing this”.

Public offices like that of the president entail a lot of demand and responsibility. This is a moral issue that should be accorded appropriate attention considering the inherent difficulty in changing attitudes.

The call though is intimately linked with the manna our political office holders behave and a handful of Nigerian politicians not only use but are involved in drug rings.

LENS aligns with this proposition to ascertain the physiological and neurological condition of politicians seeking public offices in the country given the erratic behaviours of some of them in public spaces. The incidence of a federal lawmaker in the upper chamber of the national assembly assaulting a mart attendant in Abuja is still fresh in the memory of Nigerians.

LENS’s position is that the process should not just end with testing them but apprehending culprits and linking them as well to drug cartels and barons with a view to disrupting merchandising in the substance.

One missing puzzle in the disqualification of public office holders in Nigeria is the provision for persons under the influence of drugs.

Some sections in the 1999 constitution spell out why some persons may be disqualified from holding public offices. Section 107(b) for instance says ‘ No person shall be qualified for election to an HOA if- … he is adjudged to be a lunatic or otherwise declared to be of unsound mind.

The question is are the existing laws in the relevant sections of the 1999 constitution and the electoral act 2010 as amended strong enough to enforce it.

There is a lacuna technically and feasibly already to the enforcement of this laudable proposition. How does one for instance prove this condition in a court of law as politicians are bound to exploit our weak judiciary system to get tilted judgment? Again, will politicians who are makers and enforcers of the law agree to give it passage and not scuttle it.

LENS’s position is that the advocacy is not only timely but critical to achieving zero drug use among political office holders in Nigeria.

 

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