Article written by Ajagzy Okunrin Ogun.
I want to talk about the DRUG EPIDEMIC we are currently pretending is not happening in our society. I am not talking about "Igbo" or weed o. That one is not a drug, only hypocritical nations still criminalize a NATURAL GROWING HERB that has being proven to have several medicinal and therapeutic uses and is not in anyway as harmful as perfectly legal tobacco and alcohol. No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose in the history of the world. Holland one of the countries where I first heard of legal marijuana now has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
I am here to talk of the epidemic of dangerous synthetic drugs, cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, opiates, barbiturates, codeine, Crystal meth and other meth derivatives like ecstasy. When I was growing up, Nigeria was only a TRANSIT COUNTRY for these kind of drugs, people smuggled them for money, but slowly Nigeria has now become a USING DESTINATION. I hear a kilo of cocaine now costs about the same thing on the streets of Lagos as in the streets of New York so rather than risk smuggling these drugs to nations with better security, The world's drug trade is shifting to Africa where the environment is lax as per law enforcement and regulation.. About ten years ago, a Lagos based wealthy Chinese guy was being chased around by NDLEA (I am sure he never went to jail) he was arrested ultimately for shipping drugs here by metric tons, in containers designated as building materials and I don't think he was ever prosecuted, money just changed hands about $60 million worth of cocaine was said to have being found in some of his containers. Somewhere in Delta state recently a full scale Meth lab was discovered, with meth cooking chemists imported from Mexico working somewhere in the Delta state hinterlands manufacturing insane volumes of crystal meth.
I consider myself to be worldly and I have being exposed to marijuana, tobacco and alcohol as early as when I was a teenager, but I was a full grown adult before I ever set my eyes on any of these synthetic drugs, I saw it mess with the minds of a few of my homies when I was in the university and I kept it at a distance though it also wasn't readily available like it is today. I decided "whatever does not grow naturally I am not about to mess with" and that is my policy for life. About 5 years ago, 4 young people died of heroin/cocaine related problems within a period of 2 weeks in Abuja. Some dealer was selling something that was killing people and a friend of mine lost her 17 year old son who was a UNIVERSITY student in Malaysia who came home for a holiday, he died after using some cocaine in a hotel room. Same for a young University of Abuja girl and also that same week a son of a prominent Yoruba King died in his ex-girlfriend's house while on a visit to Abuja, his death was also related to the same consignment of cocaine. I did a little investigation for my friend whose son died, the dealer who sold them the stuff was well known in the city. He came and peddled his stuff in a popular night club those days which was owned by a celebrity fashion designer in Abuja.
In Abuja and Kano, the drug of choice of young boys and girls is CODEINE which they get from the cough mixture "Benelyn and Codeine". They buy the drug off the shelf in pharmacies and you wouldn't even know what they are doing when they have mixed it with Sprite and they are drinking it out of a bottle in a club or in parties. Cocaine and heroin are readily available is the streets of Lagos and Kano (the two states with the highest drug consumption rates). Young, hopeless and jobless youth have taken to drugs like fish to water up and down the country, even the popular "evostic" that shoemakers use to mend your shoes is a drug of choice for many of the "okada rider" type drug user. Don't mess with those okada boys in Abuja, Kano and other big cities in the north, 70% of them are high on something mostly GLUE. Our NDLEA will be fooling themselves chasing "Igbo" farmers up and down, when nowadays science has shown marijuana is not a problem and is not a "gateway drug" as people had previously believed. They will be collecting bribes from importers of real drugs and be wasting public money chasing irrelevancies.
Many do not know but one the greatest and most consistent fighters against the use of hard drugs in Nigeria was the late Afrobrat King FELA ANIKULAPO-KUTI, many who were close to his Kalakuta residence or his Afrika Shrine club know that Fela hated drugs with a passion. One of the biggest sins you could commit was to sell or take hard drugs within Fela's premises. Igbo was freely used, (Baba had more knowledge than many of his peers and what scientist are proving today about the benefits of Igbo Baba already knew) but any known drug dealer or user that was a member of Fela's community was given serious punishment and ultimately ostracized if they failed to change. We need to refocus our energy in the fight against drugs and stop chasing shadows. In big cities all across the nation, young kids are messing with all sorts of dangerous drugs. It is everywhere. As a society we need to begin to seriously tackle it with the full understanding that NIGERIA IS NO LONGER A TRANSIT POINT FOR DRUGS, IT HAS NOW BECOME AN IMPORTANT USER NATION, and with our ineffective law enforcement, we have a time bomb that is about to explode.'