In this report KOLA OYELERE writes that married women and young men in Kano are deeply embroiled in drug addiction, which is currently giving the people of the state and government sleepless nights.
THE high rate consumption of illicit substances and hard drugs among the youth is already a nationwide problem. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) regularly seizes drugs both within the country and at its points of entry, especially airports and land borders.
Certain substances considered as illegal are being abused regularly, especially by some youths who have nurtured that kind of lifestyles from their interactions with negative foreign popular cultures through the internet or other media.
However what is now more worrisome is the consumption of drugs among young ladies and married women in the northern part of the country, an environment considered as conservative, especially in Kano State. Kano is, in fact, said to be topping the list of states with the highest number of drug abusers in the country.
According to NDLEA, the state has highest drug abuse rate in the country based on the number of seizures, arrests of addicts and convictions of arrested dealers.
The illegal substances are called all sorts of names. Such names do not mean anything to the non-initiates, because they are carefully crafted to conceal them. Names given to the substances are: Scorpion gas, Angel breeze, Monkey tail, Chasing the dragon, Flying stone, Man-die-go, Fire-for-fire, Gigabytes, Suck-and-die, lizard dung, among others. There is also the absurd act of inserting pipes into graves to sniff the acrid air from interred corpses.
The acts are so rampant with the number of abusers increasing on a daily basis.
“It is a painful fact that Kano tops the drug abuse chart in Nigeria, a trend that all hands must be on deck to change if we are to save our upcoming generation from ruin,” the Kano State commander for the NDLEA, Hamza Umar, said recently in an interview with some reporters, adding that “the use of hard drugs, especially among the youth, has become a real social menace and it cuts across all social strata, with children from both rich and poor backgrounds deeply into it.”
Sunday Tribune investigations revealed that apart from the youths, married women now patronise some ‘joints’ buying and taking illicit drugs, something totally unheard of years back. Their favourites are cheap drugs, such as codeine-laced cough syrups, including some solvent and powerful stimulants.
Some of the women interviewed by Sunday Tribune but who would not like to be named said they took to drugs to increase their libido, so as to be able to meet up with their husbands’ s3xual demands. They explained that they needed to ingest stimulants to enhance their s3xual performance in order to keep their husbands from engaging in extramarital activities.
Some of the women involved in drugs, Sunday Tribune learnt are nursing mothers who sometimes abandon their children at home only to lodge in hotels where they do drugs and engage in other activities.
There was the a recent reported case of a young woman who locked up her two little children inside the house, fled her home and joined her friends in a red-light district hotel where they engaged in all kinds of illicit activities, including drug abuse.
Family background is also a very notable and important factor in the use of drugs among youths in the state.
Kabir Isa, a 25-year-old unemployed youth told Sunday Tribune: “I am not happy taking hard drugs, but there was nothing I could do as you can see. I am from a broken home; my father has three wives and does not taken care of his children. We were 20 children in the family; none of us is currently going to school.”
The absence of parental care he explained from into the street and after meeting children with same dysfunctional situation looked for an escape route through drugs.
Yunusa Ibrahim, a 23 year-old also comes from a traumatised family background.
“My parents divorced when I was 10 years old, but I continued to live with my father, who remarried. However, my stepmother was too harsh on us. No matter what the new wife did, my father did not intervene, neither did he correct her.
“As luck would have it, as I was passing through this pathetic situation, I found a new friend and it was this new friend that introduced me to smoking cigarette. Gradually, I started taking cough mixture with codeine and others.
“A lot of young men like me take drugs to get high and forget their frustration. When one takes it one feels happy and worries disappear,” Yunusa narrated.
Over 50 almajiris, according to Mr Umar, Kano NDLEA boss are currently in custody for aiding and abetting drug peddling in the state, including 200 girls also arrested for drug activities.
According to him, drug trafficking in the state has taken a worrisome dimension as drug dealers have started using almajiris as drug couriers and distributors.
“It was also worrisome that the teenagers do not only serve as distributors, but are also initiated into the act of drug abuse by their pay masters. Just recently, we arrested over almajiris who confessed to have engaged in the business of drug peddling for a wage of N300 per day.
“It is a known fact today that there is a phenomenal increase in the number of youths engaging in drug use and peddling. Young adolescents begin to use drug as early as when they are 10 to 20 years of age in Kano,” Umar explained.
At a recent event where seized drugs were burnt the NDLEA Director General, Col Mohammed Mustapha Abdallah (retd) lamented that the quantity of the seizures in Kano is worrisome, noting that the indiscriminate consumption of Tramadol, which he described as a bye product of opium, is a clear indication that Nigeria has been sitting on a “time bomb.”
The street value of the drugs reportedly seized over a period of two years was about N10 billion. Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who was part of the event and was appalled by the huge seizure, blamed the cosmopolitan status of the ancient city as a contributory factor to the growing trade and consumption of illicit drugs.
Research has shown that there is a correlation between drug abuse and crime in the society. The question on people’s lips is what would have happened if the N10 billion worth of drugs had found its way into Kano metropolis.
The ripple effect would have been gargantuan, only that it is not always quantifiable, especially in a society like ours where statistics are lacking.