Naira Marley Is Not Our Ambassador – NDLEA

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has clarified its association with the music sensation, Afeez Adeshina Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley. The agency states that its engagement with Naira Marley aims to harness his influential skills and platforms to disseminate content that discourages substance abuse among his numerous followers and Nigerian youths at large.

Naira Marley recently made headlines when he and his team paid a visit to the NDLEA’s National Headquarters in Abuja on August 17th, 2023. During this visit, he expressed his readiness to contribute to the fight against drug abuse in the country.

The agency finds it crucial to address ongoing misinterpretations surrounding the purpose of Naira Marley’s visit, particularly in online forums. Some reports have incorrectly suggested that the British-Nigerian singer was appointed as an NDLEA Ambassador. This misinformation has been refuted by the agency, emphasizing that the images and video content from the visit were accurately captioned and shared without any implications of such an appointment.

The NDLEA’s decision to involve Naira Marley is a strategic effort to capitalize on his extensive influence, boasting over seven million followers—a substantial portion of the demographic vulnerable to substance abuse in Nigeria. By urging Naira Marley to employ his platform for anti-substance abuse messaging, rather than perpetuating drug glorification, the agency aims to strike a balance between curbing drug supply and reducing demand.

This approach aligns with the NDLEA’s comprehensive strategy in tackling drug abuse, adhering to international best practices and echoing this year’s World Drug Day theme: “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.”

The agency poses a pertinent question: When an artist who has previously advocated for marijuana reformulates his stance after undergoing significant counseling, should he be rejected and marginalized, or embraced and given an opportunity to rectify his influence by steering his followers away from substance abuse? The agency argues that its proactive engagement with figures like Naira Marley embodies consistency with its approach to drug abuse prevention across various sectors, including schools, religious institutions, marketplaces, transport hubs, the entertainment industry, and more.

The NDLEA contends that the individual best suited to convey the anti-drug abuse message to Marlians—Naira Marley’s fanbase—is Naira Marley himself, as he leads this movement. The agency emphasizes that this is a time to foster encouragement and accountability rather than foster skepticism or suspicion. They advocate for supporting Naira Marley’s public commitment against substance abuse, echoing his video message to his followers, all for the overarching betterment of the youth.

Femi Babafemi,
Director, Media and Advocacy,
NDLEA Headquarters Abuja,
Saturday, August 19th, 2023.