The Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd), has ascribed the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta region to drug abuse.
Dikio, while speaking during a courtesy visit to the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Buba Marwa (rtd), urged the agency to take urgent steps to curb the emerging threat in the region.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Nneotaobase Egbe, on Monday, Dikio said the partnership between NDLEA and PAP would drastically reduce cases of drug abuse and reposition minds of the youths for more productive ventures to sustain the peace and development in the region.
He said: “We have a unique challenge in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) that of managing ex-militants; we call them ex-agitators. We want to take active measures to not only manage the present ex-agitators, but to pre-empt and stop the pipeline vandalism that leads to deviant behaviour and militancy.
“It goes without saying that some of these people get their motivation by using or abusing substances, so we want to key into what you are doing on the arrest side and learn what we can do on the prevention side.”
Responding, Marwa promised that the NDLEA would partner with PAP to curb the intake of hard drugs and other banned substances by youths in the Niger Delta.
He decried the wave of drug-induced crime in the country, especially among youths noting that the collaboration between PAP and his agency would focus on sensitisation and counselling programmes as a major preventive measure to curb the menace.
While identifying poverty as the main cause of drug abuse in Nigeria, the NDLEA boss explained that criminals used drugs to embolden themselves before embarking on any criminal activity.
He said:” We have also found that the students, bandits, kidnappers, rapists, down the line youths, militants, use drugs and we will be very happy to collaborate with the Amnesty Programme.
“We don’t need to wait for people to become drug addicts first; the majority have not used drugs, others have tasted but are not addicted to it. The ex-agitators are also normal human beings that will like to marry and raise families.
“The advice we give that will deal with the drug problem is to find some source of income for them through skills acquisition and if it is affordable, some kind of wage structure,” he said.