10
Opinions Tue, 7 Jan 2014

Kofi Annan beats drums on drugs

Orangeburg, SC

Monday, 6th January, 2014

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is raising the alarm—again-- about drugs. He announced on his face book that his foundation, based in Accra, will work closely with the West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD), this year toward addressing the “growing drug problem in West Africa.” The Think Africa Press has reported an increase in the transshipment of drugs from Latin America through West Africa. It stated that “Since 2008, the volume of cocaine transiting through West Africa was roughly 50 tonnes a year and its annual worth estimated at US $ 2 billion.” A June 2013 report by the Africa Centre for strategic studies by Senior Diplomatic Advisor David E. Brown stated in part, “West Africa is under attack from international criminal networks that are using the sub-region as a key global hub for the distribution, wholesale, and increased production of illicit drugs.” The report also states that, “The proceeds of drug trafficking, by far the most lucrative transnational criminal activity in illicit economies, are fuelling a dramatic increase in narco-corruption in the region, allowing drug traffickers to stage coups d’état, hijack elections and co-opt or buy political power.” These sentiments have been echoed elsewhere by Security analyst Dr. Kwesi Annin and others.

The concerns raised repeatedly by Kofi Annan and echoed by others, form the basis of my fictional book based on our reality, titled, “THE DRUG INVASION OF WEST AFRICA”. Drugs are a rising global issue that will impact West Africa disproportionately because of our location and under-development. In the US it has led to a rise in crime that is contained by the imprisonment of an unusually high numbers of blacks, with serious social consequences. We must be truly afraid of what West Africa will look like when drugs are here in full force. It will lead to an increase in crime that will easily overwhelm our under-manned and under-resourced security forces. It will flood our societies with easy money that will corrupt our youth, overwhelm our banks while weakening and corrupting our already weak institutions. I am concerned about how our hospitals that are so under-equipped will diagnose and treat an avalanche of patients suffering from the effects of drug overdose—the heart attacks, the seizures, the elevations in blood pressure and the accidents and violence caused by those who are high—to themselves and others. As the West looks for more ways to control the drugs on their streets, they will be inclined to fight the drug menace on our streets, thus destabilizing our fragile countries. Indeed, many have wondered whether some of our internecine conflicts have been fuelled by war-lords supplying gullible children with drugs and then guns and then sending them out to kill in the name of causes they do not understand. As one of the attendants at my book launch recounted, he was driving home from night work one morning when he saw a queue somewhere in Ashanti Newtown. He assumed that they were queuing for early morning porridge( koko) but when he inquired, they had lined up to buy “wee”, the local name for marijuana.

I urge West Africa to heed Kofi Annan’s warnings and take action now.

? First, our governments must be more aggressive in securing our shores and collaborating with others to prevent drugs from reaching us.

? Second, we must develop a comprehensive public education campaign to educate our people, particularly the youth, about the dangers of drugs.

? Third, we have to upgrade our health facilities so that they can carry out routine drug screens and treat those with drug overdoses. Furthermore, we must prepare our Psychiatric facilities to carry out effective detoxification programs. Indeed, in many countries, there is little monitoring of prescribed narcotics—leading to abuse.

? Third, our societies must stop glorifying unexplained wealth. We must honour the honest poor rather than the illicit rich.

We risk, as the report suggests, a situation where drugs, criminals and maybe politics will coalesce on our shores for one big bang that will change the world as we know it for the worse.

As “THE DRUG INVASION OF WEST AFRICA” states on the cover, “It is a gripping and imaginative exploration of what happens when drugs, politics, terrorism and international law collide on the shores of West Africa. When a US President seeking re-election and a British Prime Minister looking for his place in history decide to launch a Global War on Drugs, with nothing off the table—their war will change Africa forever. The war would end with a sitting West African President under arrest for drug trafficking and Africa re-examining its place in the world. In the process, the UN, the International Criminal Court and racism all come under scrutiny.”

We must confront this threat now—together.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina