Winning the war against the uncontrollable spread of narcotic and other harmful banned substances will only be possible in Liberia when people in authority and the adjacent community of affluent people and businesses see it as an explicit danger to mankind.
There has been much ado about stemming this virus plaguing the nation’s youthful population with little or no clear practical approach but theories and blame game.
In July this year, lawmakers and President George Weah tightened the drug law, closing loopholes that could push drug cartels and manufacturers looking to other countries than Liberia as transit point in their multibillion dollar trade .
Under the new legal regime, drug dealers, cultivators, and manufacturers are not eligible for bail until their trial is completed and if found guilty sentenced to life imprison.
Law, as tough as it would be on the books may appear appealing yet insufficient. What is needed now besides the law is the cultivation and application of self-moral-willingness.
In this context, people clothed with the power and authority should position their conscience in a way that consider their collective role in policing the nation-state from narcotic spread and unauthorized usage as: a moral responsibility to humanity and an extra nationalist and patriotic duty to country.
Liberia can easily win the drug war when leaders, agents and staff members of the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency and other law enforcement organizations see their role as a pure national service to avert calamity and destruction of the nation rather than an income and illicit wealthier acquisition opportunity.
When drug lords, manufacturers and traders hear that Liberian authorities from the top to the least serviceman in the security force have zero tolerance for kickbacks and cannot be sold at any given price, drugs tycoons and operatives will find new destination.
At this point, the youth of this country and the entire population will be safe.
While these scenarios and suggestions are best suited for the long term eradication of the virus, there is a need for decisive actions to address existing damages and social problems.
It is estimated that 2 in 10 youth in Liberia are users of narcotic substances. To sustain the desire and use of narcotic drugs, these young people who live in ghettos, street corners, and cemeteries often resort to crime, including armed robberies.
According to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, factors influencing the growing population of “At-Risk Youth,” in Liberia include “peer pressure, poverty, sexual and physical abuse, weak family support system, and intergenerational drug use” as many of the country’s current drug addicts’ parents are former child soldiers. These child soldiers were themselves introduced to drugs at an early age.
This is why we are adopting Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah’s approach to cleaning the mess at hands as one of main prescriptions in the short run in relation to the war against drugs and impact mitigation.
The government minister wants “army of people” who will be trained to fight the proliferation of drugs and stem its impact on the country’s population. This army includes but not limited to parents, faith based organizations and all who care about making Liberia drug free.
“Drugs users are not criminals,” she told reporters recently.
This is a medical issue. Let us look at it at a medical view because these people are sick and need help.
“Instead of arresting them and putting them in jail, we need to tackle them because they have a health problem.
“We feel that we need to build an army. You already have a lot of people that have been exposed to these drugs. To fight it, you can’t have three or four persons. You need a hold army of people.”
“For every one person taking drug, we’ll have two persons to look after them and make sure they are well. Those who need to be at home or just going to the center, our army will make sure two to one on every drug person”
Our attitude and approach to the fight against drugs will certainly determine our success on the battlefront.