Political Parties Reject Drug Test For Aspirants

The umbrella body of all political parties in Nigeria, the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), has described the call by the chairman/chief executive officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig Gen Buba Marwa (retd.), for political aspirants to undergo drug tests as an affront to politicians.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP last night, IPAC chairman, Alhaji Yabagi Sani, said the pronouncement was outlandish and uncalled for.

“We believe it is absurd. We believe it is an affront to the political class,” Sani said, describing it as rascality of the highest order.

“I’ve never heard of a country where people who want to rule the country are asked to undergo drug tests.

“Marwa should not tell Nigeria that kind of thing. Contesting an election is serious business. That pronouncement is outlandish,” Sani added.

Test Not To Stigmatise Aspirants, Says NDLEA

Meanwhile, NDLEA has said the proposed drug integrity checks for all aspirants in 2023 across political parties is not targeted at stigmatising anyone.

Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP podcast, spokesperson of the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, said the intention of the proposed drug test was to ensure that people of sound mind are elected into public offices.

He also revealed that staff of the NDLEA are subjected to routine drug tests and nobody had been exposed or stigmatised.

NDLEA boss, Marwa, had revealed on Wednesday that he had written a letter to the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen Abdullahi Adamu, requesting that officials of the agency be allowed to conduct drug tests for aspirants in the forthcoming elections.

Marwa also said that he would write to all the other political parties on the same matter.

Speaking during the first quarter award ceremony of the agency in Abuja, the NDLEA boss explained that the drugs test was necessary to ensure that politicians vested with important national offices do not spend budgetary allocations on cocaine and other hard drugs instead of providing needed services for the masses.

LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that in June 2020, the Kano State government declared a compulsory drug test for political office holders, civil servants and students. Also, in October 2021, the state government mandated all aspirants in the APC state congress to undergo drug tests.

Those who failed the tests were reportedly told to stand down from running for office.




CSOs Divided Over Planned Drug Test

Meanwhile, civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country have expressed divergent views on Marwa’s proposal for political aspirants to undergo drug tests.

Speaking yesterday, some of the CSOs welcomed the idea while another said it was not part of the requirements for standing for elections in Nigeria.

The CSOs which spoke to LEADERSHIP are Yiaga Africa, Transparency International (TI), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, TI, TMG and CISLAC said Nigerians must ensure that they ascertain the mental condition of people that want to govern them.

“I think it is a very good development if they can get the cooperation of all the politicians because we need to ascertain the mental capability of our public office holders.

“Second, I think given the rampant use of drugs by some public officials, it is good if we are able to test them and know how mentally, physically fit they are. It is important that politicians cooperate, to allow competent and qualified persons to take over the positions of leadership,” he said.

According to him, if the aspirants fail the drug test, they should not be allowed to contest any election, not only presidential but every elective office.

“Sometimes when you see public officials doing something, you wonder what their problem is. Obviously, it is as a result of abuse of drugs,” he said.

But opposing the move, the board of trustees’ member of Yiaga Africa, Barr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said there was no need for a drug test since it is not part of the requirements for aspirants to contest for political offices.

“It is not a constitutional requirement. That is number one, because there is nothing in the constitution that says drug test before one can stand for an election.

“What the constitution says is they have to be Nigerians; they have to be of age. The parties can decide to adopt it or reject it because such is not in the electoral act or the constitution.”

Nwagu pointed out that NDLEA’s letter was only a request and not binding on the parties.

“I think that it is overdue, but there is no need for it; otherwise, other agencies of government will also come up with their policies that are strange to the electoral act or the constitution,” he said


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here