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Davido, Sophia And The Weed Revolution in Nigeria

Like many other nations, Nigeria, world’s most populous black nation and Africa’s largest economy, is racing against time to catch up with the rest of the world in so many areas.

Irresponsible leadership and a docile, ill-informed following have combined to make nonsense of the abundant human and natural capital of the country so much so that you would wonder if the country was actually blessed at all.

But we have never been short in dreams! Successive administrations have envisioned plan after plan without much accomplishment other than further driving the nation into penury and increasing the hopelessness of its people.

However, they say there is hope that we may achieve the grand vision of becoming one of the world’s 20 biggest economies in four years. We wait to see how that will translate into better existence for the people.

Even if our nation is guilty of incessant and shameful faltering, the same cannot be said of its citizenry. Nigerians have on their own individual steam competed with the best in the word, shattered records in the process and gone ahead to be the best in assorted endeavours.

As a matter of fact, it is said that there is hardly any area of human engagement that you will not find a Nigerian having attained global acclaim. For instance, about 10, 000 Nigerians ply their trade in the medical field in the United States and a number of these are doing very extraordinary things. Even at home, professionals in medicine, law, teaching, music, Information and Communication Technology manage to defeat the perpetual slump of the environment to attain outstanding feats.

Just that as it is regular with the corporeal nature of man, we have also acquired a number of contrary tendencies, which if not totally hitherto alien to us were hushed up practices in the inner chambers of their indulgers. But such covert habitude has currently given way to some unprecedented and inured display amongst us. As a result, Nigerians now very plainly acknowledge and discuss sexual orientations and other indulgences that society would ordinarily not contemplate.

 This one point stuck out of the recent public spat between celebrated musician David Adeleke, otherwise known as Davido, and the mother of his infant daughter, Sophia Momodu.

These exuberant youngsters who led their two otherwise friendly families into the public unveiling of a rather well-kept disagreement, had met and apparently got intimate during what might have been a not too lucid moment for either parties. And like most of such unguarded moments, this meeting produced a lovely daughter whose custody instigated the recent public disaffection.

Not to overstate the incident, which trended for about two weeks, the prominent Adeleke family attempted to take the baby out of the country with the intent of “giving her adequate medical attention due to traces of marijuana” allegedly found in her body in the cause of examinations. Davido would later go on to release documents purportedly showing proof of the abuse of substance by his baby mama, as the world refers to ladies who find themselves in Sophia’s out-of-wedlock, no-intention-to-marry situation. In all of this, the young man conveniently neglected to acknowledge his own complicity in the indulgence that he accused Sophia.

The first response issued by Chief Dele Momodu who is Sophia’s much older cousin, said: “…Dr Adeleke said the baby was discovered to have traces of marijuana in her during medical test and he believed Sophie and David were smokers and he needed to protect the child from two irresponsible parents, as he described…”

Now I agree that the piece of information was given to Momodu in confidence and as a result of the affinity between the two families, but I am still enthralled by Adeleke’s candour in this conversation. You see, smoking of marijuana is not an exactly new thing to us in Nigeria. There is evidence of weed use by prominent Nigerians for several decades but this would be the first time that a family would own up to the use of the substance by anyone born and bred by it, especially one who is relatively in the wee hours of his life. It is one of those habits that families would rather none of their members ventured into. And when it happens, they would rather suffer in silence.

Yet, marijuana, also known as weed, igbo, Indian hemp, gbana, ganja, sensi, morocco, eja among many other aliases has continued to gain increased traction amongst young Nigerians.

Also known as cannabis Sativa, its origin is traced to Central and South Asia. Although it is usually smoked, the plant can be soaked in alcoholic drinks, cooked with food, boiled and sipped as tea or just chewed like kola nut. All of this is to get some euphoric or high feeling courtesy of its most active ingredient known as Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Although it is an illicit drug in Nigeria as in many other countries, a 2011 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report identified that 4.3 per cent of people between the age of 15 and 64 in Nigeria use cannabis. Some Nigerian researchers suggest that the use of this drug is actually rampant among a lot of 12-year-olds.

There is evidence that marijuana has become a staple at many markets and public motor garages, schools, clubs, motels, street corners, beaches and so on. A recent newspaper report quoting the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency claimed that Kano State has the highest number drug abusers in Nigeria with 37 per cent of its population allegedly indulging. Most of these, of course, children and youths!

Now, although cannabis has been found to be of use as an ingredient of palliative medicines, it could have grievous side effects on individuals and society by implication.

So you wonder why people engage in it. A lot of smokers claim that they were led into the habit because of a problem or condition that they abhorred while a 2013 report signalled poverty and unemployment as key to the rise in drug and substance abuse in Nigeria for instance. But users’ problems usually end up compounded.

Fundamentally, tolerance for drugs build up and a constant use of marijuana may render it ineffectual in delivering the desired high feeling such that a user would aim for more potent drugs. Researches claim for instance that more than 99 percent of cocaine users started with get away substances like marijuana.

The import of this graduation on a nation especially with the massive spread of marijuana but a weak security infrastructure in then better imagined

Marijuana use subject people to impaired short-term memory, impaired attention, judgment and other cognitive functions, anxiety, paranoia, impaired coordination and balance, insomnia and psychosis. Studies have also linked heavy use of this substance to welfare dependence, inability to keep a job which leads to unemployment, a variety of criminal behaviour even though some light social users are able to maintain their sanity.

When misled, uneducated and disgruntled children and youths use cannabis however, a society like Nigeria can only anticipate a storm of criminal and perverse tendencies in its future. Even now, increasing violence in the country is an indication of the suspension of reasoning among the populace. This is at the same time in which promiscuity and sexual perverseness are on the rise. Nigerian youths now revel in sexual orgies and parties where convenient associations are birthed and unwanted babies made. This wave of addiction has systematically crawled into our society eating up the future generation without us taking interest in attacking it before it becomes an endemic social malaise which can stifle our social economic development and strip our nation of peace.

Since users are able to mostly successfully mask it from their parents, parents and guardians need to pay more attention to their children and the friends they keep. Government must make it easier for parents to fend for their wards in addition to making education accessible to all Nigerian children. The NDLEA needs to focus more on terminating the increasing access to weed in the country and curb this indulgence that portends grave danger for the future.

    Follow me on twitter: @niranadedokun.


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