ABUJA, Nigeria – Mohammad Buba Marwa resumed on Monday as the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The retired Brigadier General succeeded Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, a retired colonel.
The tenure of Abdallah, who was appointed on January 12, 2016, expired on January 11, 2021.
But President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to deny him a second tenure is being debated.
Since May 2015, the President has granted many heads of departments and agencies a second term, likewise a number of Federal Executive Council (FEC) members, as well as military and paramilitary chiefs.
A source revealed that the NDLEA recruitment exercise might have cost Abdallah another tenure.
The citizen close to the authorities said the presidency and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, were displeased with how the former chairman handled it.
Malami, the Minister of Justice, stopped the screening on the grounds of COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can count several appointees whose tenure were extended or renewed. I knew something was up the moment I read the AGF’s statement. That directive for suspension of the selection could have been communicated via an internal memo.
“The presidency and the AGF issue orders everyday and we don’t see most of them in the media. The fact that this was publicized when they could have asked the agency to announce cancellation of the screening confirmed all was not well”, the source added.
In his address to the workforce at the NDLEA headquarters, Marwa was silent on screening of the 5,000 applicants seeking employment.
Though it is unclear if Marwa had been long penciled in for the position, it was not a hard choice.
Marwa was Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) from December 2018 to December 2020. The president was satisfied with his performance, it was gathered.
Also, the former diplomat was Chairman of APC Women and Youths Presidential Campaign Team ahead of the 2019 election. His followers wanted to see their concerted effort rewarded.
Marwa was one of those considered for the position of Secretary to the Government of the Federation had Buhari dropped the incumbent, Boss Mustapha.
Like the SGF, the President’s wife, Aisha Buhari and Marwa are all Adamawa indigenes. However, the latter was promoted by the First Lady and some party chieftains for the job after the APC was re-elected. Aisha and Marwa both served on PACEDA and the APC presidential team.
Buhari, who retained Mustapha, as well as another Adamawa appointee, FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, has now compensated Marwa.
On Monday, he decried the growing population of illegal substance users in Nigeria. The new chief put the figure around 15 million Nigerians, between the ages of 15-64.
Marwa assured that the agency would work towards reduction of drug demand as contained in the NDLEA Act and develop strategies to meet National Drug Control Master Plan objectives.
The chairman promised to safeguard Nigeria from drug menace, and vowed to go after defaulters.
“I would like to warn those who engage in the dastardly trade of importation, export, cultivation, processing, manufacture, trafficking, sale and consumption of illicit substances to stop forthwith or be prepared to contend with the NDLEA,” he said.
On staff welfare, he assured that outstanding issues of stagnation in rank, training, postings and due emoluments will be addressed as priority.
Born on September 9, 1953 in Kaduna, Marwa hails from Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa. He attended the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, and the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna.
Marwa studied at the University of Pittsburgh, where he obtained a master’s degree in International Relations. He also bagged a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.
He was commissioned as Second lieutenant in the Nigerian Army Reconnaissance Corps before deployment to the Armoured Corps.
Marwa served as Brigade Major (23 Armoured Brigade), Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Theophilus Danjuma, academic registrar of the NDA and deputy defense adviser in the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
He was appointed Governor of Borno State in 1990 and became the defense adviser to the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in 1992.
Marwa served as Military Governor of Lagos State from 1996 to 1999. His persona, programmes, projects and carriage endeared him to many residents.
He is remembered for fuel rationing for widespread supply, introduction of tricycles (Keke Marwa), ‘Operation 250 Roads’, investment in healthcare and electricity, house rent regulation, zero tolerance for forceful eviction, and ‘Operation Sweep’, a joint military and police taskforce.
After retirement, he founded Albarka Air and exited as Chairman in 2003. Marwa sought the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket in 2006. He lost but supported the winner, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Marwa at different times was Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, and Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
He ran for the governorship of Adamawa on the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) platform in 2011. Buhari, the then CPC leader, led his loyalists to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) with other parties in February 2013.
In March 2014, Marwa pulled out of the mega party and returned to the PDP. In June, 2015, he rejoined the APC.
“The decision was jointly reached at a well attended meeting between General Marwa and his supporters under the aegis of The Marwa Organisation (TMO). After listening to the views of members, the TMO resolved to return to the APC which they joined to form while in the defunct CPC”, a spokesman said.