It was raging debate at a time in the country, when the land was beleaguered and almost totally asphyxiated by insurgency. Should we procure the services of foreign mercenaries or not? There were strident arguments for and against.
At the security council meeting, the issue came up, and there were points for and against. President Muhammadu Buhari, as Chairman of the meeting, finally waded in. What was his position?
Nigerian Army had distinguished itself in Burma, Congo, Lebanon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and many other theatres of conflict round the world. Why should we then be hiring mercenaries before we can defeat insurgents in our own land?
But the President was not done yet. He added: “See what Buba Marwa is doing at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Who would have thought that was possible? We have capacities, we can do it, as shown by people like Marwa. We don’t have to hire mercenaries.”
That put paid to the arguments, and the controversy. And today, the result is clear. Nigerian military is dealing mortal blows to every form of criminality round the country. Insurgents, bandits, oil thieves, would-be secessionists, are all being spoken to in the language they understand. See how calm the last Sallah, Christmas and New Year holidays were. It didn’t used to be so. Festive seasons were often attended with orgies of bloodletting round the country. But Nigeria is now winning. Without hiring mercenaries.
Yes, we can do it. On all fronts, in all spheres of life and endeavor, like Buba Marwa is showing. There are many hundreds, nay thousands of him round the country. They only need to be found, and given opportunities, as Buhari and those before him did to Marwa.
Again, we were in New York last September, attending the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. News came from home that the NDLEA had seized 1,855 kilograms of cocaine in Lagos. Holy Moses! That was enough to overthrow not just Nigeria, but the entire West Africa.
After the President was informed of the landmark seizure, the first thing he said was; get me Buba Marwa on the phone. He commended the NDLEA Chairman for the great work he was doing, saving Nigerian youths, families and society from the ravages of drug addiction.
At a meeting with members of his delegation later, the President was still upbeat about the development. He said: “Almost two tonnes of cocaine? That’s a haul. Buba Marwa is doing very well.”
President Buhari loves Gen. Marwa, just as he does anyone that loves and serves the country, working passionately for God and humanity. It was, therefore, no surprise when National Honors were given last October, and Marwa was on the list. In 2003, he had earlier been given OFR, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic. It was topped with CON. Commander of the Order of the Niger. Well deserved.
I am not surprised that every credible award in the land, and even beyond, has been given to Gen. Marwa in recent times. He’s one of our best, and an inspiration to adults and youths alike. He’s my personal Man of the Year for 2022, and I want to be like him when I grow up. (Lol).
Military Governor in Borno State. Military Administrator in Lagos State, where he established an iconic reputation for himself. Chairman Defence Industries Corporation (DICON). Deputy Defence Attaché, Nigerian Embassy in Washington. Member of the Nigerian Mission at the United Nations. And many others. Marwa is All Stars, just as we have people of same potential round the country. Find them, use them, play them in the proper position as President Buhari has done.
You know one thing that has reinforced my conviction about putting round pegs in round holes? It dates back to the early 1980s. We had a professional footballer abroad called Richard Owubokiri. He was doing great things outside our shores, and the media wouldn’t stop talking about his exploits. Eventually, the then NFA (Nigerian Football Authority) invited him to strengthen the Green Eagles (as they were then known) in the bid to qualify for the World Cup.
Owubokiri came, played, and his performance was less than outstanding. What happened? He granted an interview, and said he was played in a wrong position by the coach. So he was not in his elements. And truly, the player sparkled for many years later, having been properly positioned.
It’s a lesson for leadership. Find our surfeit of stars, and play them well , as Buhari has done with Marwa. He first appointed him to head PACEDA (Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse), and when he proved himself once again there, he was moved to NDLEA. And we all can now see the result, for the good of our country. Over 23, 907 arrests of drug couriers and barons, almost 4,000 convictions, seizure of over 5.5 million kilograms of hard drugs and psychotropic substances. Imagine if all those had filtered into society. Hell and high waters! We are so blessed to have a man like Marwa.
As I wrote in a piece I did in October 2021, “Everything boils down to leadership. If the NDLEA is suddenly energized and is now making conquests, it is all about leadership. And Buba Marwa acknowledges the support of leadership at a higher level. Hear him: ‘It is prudent for me to state upfront that a progress report of the NDLEA should not be taken as an isolated appraisal; rather, it should be taken as an integral part of the anti-drug trafficking thrust of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Not only did Mr President set the tone for the fight against illicit drugs by handing the Agency the mandate, the direction and the set objectives, he also provided the catalysts-willpower, financial intervention and moral support that boosted NDLEA’s capability to deliver.’
“Give it to President Buhari. He has identified some round pegs for round holes in the country, given them the necessary support, and they are doing exploits. Buba Marwa is one of them.
“Who says this country is irredeemable? Not with men of sterling character like Buhari and Marwa.”
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity