Femi Babafemi, the spokesperson for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, has said the agency intentionally enlisted controversial artiste, Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley, for its drug abuse advocacy, The PUNCH reports.
Recall that criticisms trailed a video of Naira Marley advising youths to stop taking illicit substances. This was particularly so because the singer is known to glorify and encourage drug abuse.
In an interview with Saturday Beats, Babafemi said, “It is an advocacy engagement with him. It is what we do as part of the responsibilities of the agency to promote advocacy messages that would discourage people from substance abuse. It is about the message.
“Don’t forget that he has a lot of young followers— Marlians— that look up to him. The idea is for the leader of the movement (Marlians) to come out and ask people to stop substance abuse, and live a new life.”
The drug agency’s spokesperson also noted that using Marley as an advocate did not mean that the agency won’t arrest him if he was caught with illegal substances. He said, “Last year, we arrested some of his artistes (Zinoleesky and Mohbad). That is to show that we are not closing our eyes. If the same Naira Marley is caught with illicit substances tomorrow, he will face sanctions.”
Babafemi added that critics should consider the message and not focus on the messenger.
One of the people who had criticised the choice of Naira Marley was actress, Tonto Dikeh. She wrote on social media, “NDLEA, you are looking like a disgrace. This is not an insult, but this is from a daughter of the soil speaking out on your misconduct.
“I don’t involve myself in rubbish, especially that of other people. This, I must say, is the biggest embarrassment from any government agency/drug law enforcement agency. I would like to say more, but I’ll wait for NDLEA to pick me up for an interview/drug test/or just a chat. You know my address. I ask you to do it respectfully; otherwise we’ll have a problem. And, if I am replied I would gladly respond disrespectfully.”
In a Facebook post, Ossai Success, an aide to a former Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, vowed to take legal action against NDLEA if he saw Naira Marley smoking again after his visit to the agency.
He wrote, “I will sue NDLEA if I see Naira Marley or any of the artistes signed to his record label smoking in his music video or on ground. I am watching him carefully because I am happy with this campaign.”
An instagram user, Joshua Ominuta, also wrote, “So you guys couldn’t find a responsible human being to promote your stuff?”