Liberia: Youth on Drugs-A Threat to National Security
The prevalence of drugs among young people in Liberia is a serious threat to the fabric of the society. Illegal drugs have many side effects, both on the human body and the society. Users of illegal drugs can experience impaired judgment, altered states of mind, and its prolonged use can lead to mental illnesses etc. Other side effects include high rates of school drop-out, poverty, etc.
The growing use of illegal drugs by young people is harmful to society as indicated in the increased number of crimes across the country. It is a major contributor to poverty, across the country.
Drugs to Crime:
This habit has led to many teenagers and young adults loosing track of their focus in life, living in ghettos and posing serious threats to the larger population, by extension national security through the commission of various crimes ranging from murder to arm robbery, rape, burglary, theft, gangsterism etc. that has created a huge task for the police beyond their current capacity. The number of young people using drugs continues to increase on a daily basis, if urgent steps are not taken, our communities are at greater risk of being hotspots of crimes.
A few years back, Madam Alice B. Weah, former governor of the Borough of New Kru Town, a suburb of Monrovia, indicated that there are about 866 ghettos in Monrovia alone. She made this statement during a 2018 World Drug Day celebration held in the borough.
Such statements, situates the issue squarely on at the priority list of every well-meaning Liberian. One can only imagine how many of our young people are clustered up in untidy places, living like zombies one moment and reigning havoc on our communities, the next. As more people become addicted to drugs, our society is in imminent danger of chaos and destruction as it keeps breeding criminals. This is a time bomb, ticking faster than we are apparently able to stop.
Since then, the situation has gotten worse. Such that, even President Weah acknowledged it. In a citizen’s engagement meeting in Margibi County in April 2021, he appealed to citizens to join the government in the fight against illegal drugs as it is fast destroying the young people.
In similar connection, youth advocate Thomas T. Bundoo, in July 2021, declared drugs addiction a national emergency and pointed to weak drugs laws and unsophisticated security system as major causes for the proliferation of drugs in Liberia. It is widely believed in some quarters that some law enforcement officers are also illegal drugs users, making it difficult for the government to aggressively fight those selling illegal drugs.
With the look of things, the Government of Liberia needs to be tough and act swiftly to save the future of the young people. The Legislature needs to start the process with the passage of new, stringent drug laws. The Executive branch should ensure enforcement and prosecution, while the Judicial branch should focus on providing justice. Lastly, the communities need to assist the authorities in reporting anyone involved in the act. They should no longer protect residents who engage in the sale of illegal drugs in the guise of business or poverty.
Illegal Drugs must be declared a public enemy and those in the employ of government should be subjected to regular drugs testing yearly. Violators should be prosecuted, to avoid impunity.
Similarly, drug testing must be a major requirement for admitting students in schools (junior and senior high, college and other tertiary institutions) and for recruiting teachers across the country. Our nurses, doctors and civil servants must be made to undergo regular drugs test within the course of their jobs.
Illegal drug is fast destroying the nation and threatening our national security. It needs urgent attention.
Koiyan C. Kollie, MPA Candidate,
University of Liberia Graduate School