THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has refuted the alleged appointment of afrobeats star Afeez Adeshina Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, as an ambassador.
The Agency, in a statement by its spokesperson Femi Babafemi, on Saturday, August 19, described the alleged appointment as ‘misleading’ and ‘absolute falsehood,’ adding that the picture of his visit to the agency was properly captioned.
Marley, it would be recalled, had visited the agency’s Abuja headquarters on Thursday, August 17, where he delivered a message against drug abuse, encouraging Nigerians to steer clear of drugs.
Sharing images of his visit on Thursday via its Twitter account, NDLEA wrote: “Photo caption 1: Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd.) with music star, Naira Marley when the artiste paid a visit to the National Headquarters of the Agency in Abuja to declare support for the War Against Drug Abuse on Thursday 17th August 202.
“Photo 2: Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) and music star, Naira Marley (both middle) flanked by the Agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi (2nd l) and other members of Marley’s team: Sam Larry; Dami Marshal and Chuddy Naira when the artiste paid a visit to the National Headquarters of the Agency in Abuja to declare support for the War Against Drug Abuse on Thursday 17th August 2023.”
This event was followed by different reactions and speculations from Nigerians on social media, with many asserting that the singer had secured an ambassadorship with the agency during his visit.
Several individuals who commented on the post expressed concerns that the agency hadn’t done its due diligence before ‘appointing’ Naira Marley as ambassador, while some stated that the supposed appointee is a drug user.
Meanwhile, reacting to this, NDLEA said its engagement with the star was “to encourage him to use his skills and platforms to put out content that will discourage millions of his followers and Nigerian youths from substance abuse.”
Part of the statement read: “This clarification became necessary following continued misrepresentation of the purpose of the visit, especially on online platforms where some reports suggest that the British-Nigerian singer was appointed as an NDLEA Ambassador.
“This is a misleading and absolute falsehood as the pictures of the visit and the short video containing Naira Marley’s advocacy message to his followers were properly captioned and shared by the Agency without any suggestion of such an appointment.
“The decision by the Agency to encourage Naira Marley with over seven million followers, half the population of those who abuse drugs in Nigeria, to use his platform to share anti-substance abuse messages as against using same to promote and glamourize drug abuse with the dire consequence of misleading millions of Nigerian youths into their peril, is to create a balance between our drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction efforts.
“This is also in line with the Agency’s whole society approach to the fight against drug abuse and in tune with global best practices as well as the theme for this year’s World Drug Day; People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.”