Encumbered with the challenges of poverty, corruption, conflicts, economic and social upheavals and a questionable welfare structure, the last monster West Africa needs in our confused circus is the scourge of Hard Drugs.
This monster has the capability to wreck our civil societies, debase our already weak economies, corrupt our public officials and contaminate our youths by spreading addiction and criminality thereby casting a dark light on our tomorrow.
With unemployed youths roaming the streets from Calabar to Darkar and Freetown to Timbuktu, and with a less than hopeful economic situation that has forced people into desperate means of money hunt and depression, a chronic disaster can easily be envisioned in West Africa if this monster is allowed to grow.
West Africa is fast becoming a Drug infested region of the world. It has become a major route through which narcotics and other illegal drugs from South America are transported to Europe. Some say the Gold Coast is fast becoming the Coke Coast.
The blaring alarm has gone off from the office of the United Nations and should not be taken for granted. Reports launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes at the Cape Verde capital Praia, claim that at least 50 tones of cocaine from Andean countries pass through West Africa every year, heading mostly to the streets of France, Spain and the United Kingdom, where they are worth some $2 billion.
Cocaine seizures have doubled every year for the past three years, with the 2007 total amounting to 6,458 kilogrammes, and major seizures this year include a 600 kilogramme cocaine bust at the airport in Freetown and Sierra Leone.
Most large containers of cocaine entering Africa from South America make landfall around Guinea-Bissau in the north and Ghana in the south, and are shipped to Europe by drug mules on commercial flights. According to drug seizure data, the majority of air couriers come from Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal and the cocaine is distributed by powerful West African criminal networks upon arrival in Europe.
It is believed that prosecutors and judges lack the evidence or the will to bring to justice powerful criminals with powerful friends, and local police are ill-equipped to deal with the threat.
It is no new-fangled truth that this monster aims at crippling our feeble hopes and bringing to naught every effort towards development that we have made as a growing region of the world if the situation is not checked.
It is important to promote growth and development and strengthen the civil society and the rule of law in reducing the vulnerability to drugs and crime in West Africa. This battle is for the West African governments and the international community to fight. West Africa and every other part of Africa must be protected from Drug traffickers.
The Hard-Drug-monster is the last creature Africa needs to deal with at this point of their chronicle that has been anything but easy. Steps must be taken to protect the countries exposed to the influx of drugs, to control their coasts and airspace, as well as train specialized police forces to investigate organized crime and drug trafficking as echoed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.