From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. Muhammad Babandede on Saturday in Kano said compulsory drug test awaits over 28, 000 officers and men of the Services, including those who are aspiring to join the service.
Babandede said the drug-test initiative become vital following the directive from the presidential Committee on Drug Abuse headed by Buba Marwa.
According to him, the new drug-test initiative spells out that drug addicts no longer have a place in the NIS, adding that officers who test positive to High Blood pressure will not be allowed to carry arms.
Babandede who spoke during the passing-out parade of the 3rd Conversion Course of 509 graduands at the Immigration Training School, Kano, declared that all officers and men of the service are mandated to under-go drug test to ascertain their mental cum psychological alertness during official duties.
He said the drug-test will be for both senior and junior officers, including himself, pointing out that, “you know, President Muhammadu Buhari just inaugurated a Committee on drug abuse. We are Nigerians. Every immigration officer is a Nigerian. We are around 28, 000 immigration officers who are all Nigerians.
“It is not only that we are Nigerians, we have been empoweredwith weapons to protect our country and territorial borders. If we don’t have a strategy to remove the syndrome of drug abuse from our officers, it will be very dangerous for us.
“I hope all other law enforcement will do the same. You cannot give arms to people who take drugs. So, the best thing you can do is to start checking the situation.
“The first stage will not be infinitum, it will be findings; and I will start with me. That is why I said that the drug test starts with me. I will be the first person to do the test, others will follow.
“When we found you to have drug in your blood, we will rehabilitate you, we will guide you on how to stop it. We will conduct another test, and I assure you by the time when we do three tests, if the person is not changing, it means, that person cannot work with us—that is one.
“In the first test we carry out and we find out that you have High Blood in you, we cannot give you weapons. You cannot have contact with weapons at all—this is very important in terms of national security because the government buys arms for us and we cannot use the same arms against our people—that is fundamental.”
Speaking further, he added that the presidential Committee on Drug Abuse has already conducted a research on drug abuse nation-wide, pointing out that, “the research has already taken place. President Buhari has set up a Committee under Buba Marwa, with the Office of the First Lady, the wife of Mr. President and findings were very clear.Drug issue is a big issue in our country, especially in the North.
“So, we must do something very urgently to stop it as the Immigration Service because we are part of Nigeria, and we are Nigerians. All law enforcement agencies are part of Nigerians, so we are also part of the problem, we must try to stop it.”
Babandede who identified drug addiction as a serious problem, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari is aware of the drug test initiative, and warned officers and men that, “if you are taking drugs, dry and desist from it because it might endanger your career at the end of the day.”
The Immigration boss cautioned the graduands, warning that, “as you depart here, it is important to inform you that you are coming into an IT-driven service that puts high premium on digitization, systems automation and professionalism. I know most of you are familiar with the Technology Building we are constructing at the service headquarters.
“It is a paperless office complex and it will be a hub of Information Communication Technology in the country. Therefore, you need to reinvent yourself and upgrade your skills sets to be relevant in the NIS of today as the era of god fatherism and lobbying has gone for good.”
He, however, emphasized the need for training and re-training of officers, adding that, “we have continued to embark on training and retraining exercises for enhanced productivity. All our training institutions have been busy with various forms of training exercises throughout the year.
“While the very senior officers attended leadership training programmes, others attended management and administrative courses for improved efficiency. We appreciate the various development interventions we have received from the government in our efforts.”
He noted that, “the prime position of training and re-training of officers and men in our strategic plan afforded us the commitment to pioneer the Conversion Course in order to bridge the pedagogic gap between the Inspectorate/Assistant cadre and the Superintendent Cadre. I am glad to state here that within the last 12 months, the Service has successfully conducted three different Conversion Course Trainings.
“You are, indeed, a very privileged set of officers becauseit is not very common in the public service for personnel to cross over from lower cadre to a higher one. But as you are graduating today, you must justify that you all worth the elevation. You must demonstrate competence, discipline, commitment to duties and above all, you must comport yourselves in an officers-like manner.”
In his welcome address, the Commandant of the Nigeria Immigration Training School, Kano, Mr. Ismail Hamis, urged the graduands to shun sharp practices and upheld professionalism.
According to him, the graduands were exposed to intensive para-military training and academic work, adding that, “having been equipped with the pre-requisite knowledge and skills, they are ready to go into the field.”
He expressed appreciation to Kano state Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi 11 and the good people of Kano state for their support and cooperation.
Hamis also expressed gratitude to the Comptroller-General of Immigration and the Minister of Interior for the immense support and contribution to the welfare of officers and staff of the Immigration Training School, Kano.