Nigeria is winning its fight to end illicit drug trafficking, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, has said.
Runsewe told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that efforts being made by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has reduced consumption and trafficking of illicit drugs in the country.
He said there is the need for Nigeria to maintain its presence globally in socio-economic development, saying its image and integrity would encourage investors.
The D-G said retired Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Marwa, Chairman of the NDLEA, has led major arrests, raiding hideouts and bringing those guilty to justice, saying this was impressive.
”For one to know the cultural and investment value of any country, a visit to the correctional institutions would reflect the kinds of crime committed by citizens.
“Today, I want to publicly commend Gen. Marwa for his efforts. Do you know that two years ago, at every airport, a minimum of nine to 10 Nigerians are arrested for involvement in drug-related issues.
“In the last eight months, drug traffickers have been arrested in different airports in Nigeria, that tells us that the rate of Nigerians arrested in terms of drugs have dropped drastically, those arrested were at the rate of three to five per cent.
“Over 44 hotels have been raided in Abuja alone and over 200 hotels and hideouts where these drug traffickers reside in the country have been raided.
“So as at today, I am proud and happy, Nigerians need to know that the country lost its respect of its green passport due to this reason.
“If we don’t address that structure of sniffing them out at our airports, they would become nuisance internationally and give us bad names.”
Runsewe said Nigeria may not succeed in its fight to end illicit trafficking of drugs, if the country fails to celebrate its best, saying that the present administration had seen a minimum of 10 arrests weekly.
He expressed optimism that within a short time, the issue of illicit drug trafficking would become a thing of the past and Nigeria would be respected globally among comity of nations.
He said this was very important so that investors would see the country as an investment and tourist destination.
On the contribution of the culture sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, Runsewe said this had seen a 1.5 per cent growth rate, saying this was impressive and should be celebrated.
He said tourism satellite account showed the huge number of people visiting, thereby creating value chain, employment opportunities and cultural value for the country.
He added that there was need for relevant stakeholders to regulate these activities so as to promote local content development.
On the closure of the Arts and Culture village in Abuja, the D-G said this was due to activities of unscrupulous people who took advantage of the space for selfish activities, making Government lose its investments.
“We had to close the arts and crafts village down because criminals were using that place as their hideouts, over 26 stolen cars were found there, drug sellers also stayed there.
“They were renting weapons and doing all sorts, in any country of the world, when you want to correct a bad situation, you must be ready for it and we are determined to change the situation.
“I am going to give to Nigerians, a bride cultural market, so that even when I leave office, I would be celebrated”.
He noted that plans were on to turn the redesigned arts and crafts village into a world-class investment center, hinting that it would profit government and there would be value for money at the end of the day.
He added that Nigerians interested in doing business there would all be profiled, saying that was what was obtainable in developed world.
NAN reports that the Abuja Arts and Craft Village, was shut down on Feb. 10, 2017.
However, peaceful protests over the continued closure of the village, had been sustained by artists, craftsmen, as well as traders, citing end of their businesses. (NAN)