Femi Babafemi, the spokesperson for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, has stated that the agency intentionally engaged the controversial artist Azeez Fashola, known as Naira Marley, for its campaign against drug abuse.
This move was met with criticism due to a video where Naira Marley advised young people to avoid illicit substances, which seemed contradictory given his history of glorifying drug abuse.
In an interview with Saturday Beats, Babafemi explained, “This is a form of advocacy partnership. As part of our agency’s responsibilities, we aim to spread messages discouraging substance abuse. The emphasis is on the message itself.”
Babafemi clarified that involving Naira Marley as an advocate doesn’t exempt him from potential arrest if caught with illegal substances. He emphasized, “Last year, we apprehended some of his artists (Zinoleesky and Mohbad). This demonstrates that we are not overlooking any actions. If Naira Marley is found with illicit substances, he will face penalties.”
Babafemi urged critics to focus on the message being conveyed rather than fixating on the messenger.
Actress Tonto Dikeh, who was among those critical of Naira Marley’s selection, expressed her concerns on social media. She wrote, “NDLEA, your conduct is disappointing. I am addressing this as someone from our land, not to insult but to criticize your actions. I don’t engage in trivial matters, especially concerning others.”
“I must state that this is a significant lapse from a government agency responsible for drug law enforcement. I could say more, but I will await a possible interview, drug test, or conversation with NDLEA. You know where to find me. I ask for a respectful approach, or else we’ll have issues. And if I receive a response, I won’t hesitate to reply firmly,” she added.
Ossai Success, an aide to former Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, pledged to take legal action against NDLEA if he witnessed Naira Marley smoking again after the artist’s collaboration with the agency. He posted on Facebook, “If I see Naira Marley or any artist from his label smoking in their music video or elsewhere, I will take legal action against NDLEA. I’m closely monitoring him as I appreciate this campaign.”
Joshua Ominuta, an Instagram user, also commented, “So you couldn’t find a more responsible individual to promote your cause?”
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