Pubdate: Thu, 21 Aug 2014
Source: Guardian, The (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2014 The Guardian Newspapers Limited
Note: written by Editor


WEST Africa must openly confront its political and governance
weaknesses to curb the growing drug trade in the region, former
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Wednesday.

"West Africa is no longer only a transit zone of drugs but an
attractive destination where pushers take advantage of the weak
political system to perpetuate their trade," Obasanjo, who chairs the
West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD), said while presenting his
report to Ghana's President John Mahama.

"We believe that we should confront openly the political and
governance weaknesses which the traffickers exploit," Obasanjo said.

Former United Nations scribe, Kofi Annan set up the commission last
year to explore ways to stem the increasing trafficking of drugs and
its use in the region.

West Africa has long produced and consumed cannabis but its collection
of weak states has over the last decade become a major transit zone
for Latin American cocaine destined for Europe. Heroin from Asia is
also passing through the region.

Drugs are undermining the stability of West African countries and
their development, "eating not only into the normal life of our youth,
but it's eating into our political system and governance," Obasanjo

In its report released in June, the commission called on governments
in West Africa to decriminalize drug use and treat the issue as a
health problem.

Obasanjo said because of the amount of money involved, "drug barons
can buy, they can do, and they can undo - buy officials in the
military, security and pervert justice."

Annan said wrong-headed governmental policies by leaders and
influential people in society have destroyed many more lives in West
Africa than drug use.

WACD has 11 members including former President Pedro Pires of Cape
Verde and former Togolese Prime Minister Edem Kojo. 
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