Biden’s Plea for Fighting Drug Abuse: A Wake-up Call for the Liberian Government

Joe Biden, President of United States of America

In commemoration of World Drugs Day this year, U.S. President Joseph R. Biden sent out the challenge for countries of the world to take strong actions against drug abuse to save the citizens, especially the youthful generation from the danger of drugs.

“The duty of every government is to protect its citizens from threats, which include drug abuse and illicit trafficking,” the U.S. Embassy said in a release.  The President himself described drug abuse and trafficking as the “Heartbreaking toll” that addiction can have on people.

The United States, the world’s powerful country and largest economy, is concerned about its citizens and the President, knowing the harm drug addiction causes for the citizens, is taking steps along with the entire government to fight drug abuse.

This shows the seriousness and urgency that the U.S. Government places on the issue. Extending a similar idea to the rest of the world depicts a decision that cannot be compromised by that powerful country.  Illegal handling of drugs and the abuse thereof is a crime in the United States, for which many people, including Liberians, have been deported to their countries of origin. 

Unlike the United States, Liberia, one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world, remains vulnerable to substance abuse and trafficking.  Besides the production of marijuana in many parts of Liberia, trafficking of harmful substances, including ‘Italian White’ (cocaine) has been reported serverally in Liberia. Suspected traffickers have been mainly individuals of Nigerian and Ghanaian extractions.

In the report published on June 30, 2021 under the caption, “President Biden Pleads with Nations to Rescue Citizens from Drugs,” the Daily Observer gathered reports that some officials in the hierarchy of the Liberian security sector have at times colluded with drug traffickers so that, whenever the traffickers are arrested, a single phone call to or from a high-ranking government official could result in the release the suspect(s).

On the other hand, illegal handling of harmful substances and trafficking is a bailable crime in Liberia and, because of this, the law is weak and ineffective. Amid this weak drug law, Liberia has become a center for drug trafficking, creating potential avenues for money laundering and illicit financial flows in the West African region.

As overwhelming as the environment has become with drugs, so are the young people on whom the future of the country depends, are developing mental and other irreversible illnesses because of substance abuse.  Many Liberian youths no longer enjoy the embrace of their families and friends, but roam in the streets and slums, living in shanty structures under deplorable conditions.  Interestingly, the very drug addicts are bearing children, transferring similar addictions and raising them up in the same toxic environment.

Young people are adapting to thievery and deviant acts with the propensity to undermine civility and peace in the country.  Law-abiding citizens find no peace nowadays attending business transactions in large marketplaces such as Red Light Market because drug addicts otherwise referred to as “Zogos” are all over stealing and robbing them.

We recalled last year when Zogos killed a peaceful citizen along the Pipeline Road in Red Light for his own cell phone, and residents and relatives of the victim, angered by the criminal act, took the law into their own hands to retaliate against the Zogos.  This group of young people continue to grow steadily as Liberia’s drug law enforcement remains weak and while trafficking of harmful substances continues uncontrollably.

Considering the negative bearing of drugs on the Liberian society, the call by President Biden, we strongly believe, is a wake-up call for the government to act immediately as the repercussion of drug trafficking and abuse has visibly shown bad and bleak future of the country a decade from now if no corrective measure is taken.   As an advanced society like the United States is taking actions to curb substance abuse and trafficking, we believe it is also time that the Government of Liberia institutes measures including making the Drug Law a non-bailable crime to begin fighting illicit trafficking and abuse of drugs here.  

We also want our lawmakers, the President and other stakeholders to remember Professor Wilton Sankawulo’s literary account bearing the parable, “Town trap is not for rat alone.”  Do not think for once that, since those affected by drug abuse are not your children who are living more privileged lives abroad, that you are safe.  Remember, your children would like to return to Liberia some day to lay hold of the inheritance you would have left them. But that can only happen in a country infested by drug abuse and crime. These same people can turn against your generation tomorrow to make Liberia ungovernable for everybody.

It is time to act now!  The plea of President Biden is a wake-up call for the Liberian Government to act against drug trafficking and abuse.  Otherwise, hold yourselves responsible for what becomes of Liberia.