15th January, 2018
The fact that the rate at which illicit drugs are being consumed by males and females in Northern part of Nigeria is becoming alarming is not news. What is news and a very positive one is the fact that the issue is no longer being swept under the carpet like it used to be. People and at long last, some government officials are beginning to get worried enough to talk about this challenge in the open.
More encouraging is the fact that some people are not just talking about this challenge but are also coming up with possible solutions to it. One of such people is Gbemiga Olakunle who wrote a very beautiful piece on the issue recently in NAN. His article is reproduced below.
On Saturday November 25, 2017, the Daily Trust focussed on the illicit use of drugs among female Nigerian youths, including married women from the Northern part of the country.
According to the report, the problem of drug abuse or drug addiction is more prevalent among girls and married women in cities in Kaduna and Kano in the Northwestern part of the country. And the same drug menace has also spread to the Northeastern part of the country especially to some cities in Borno and Adamawa.
Unlike before, the incidence of drug abuse was more prevalent among the males in the region. According to the report, out of every five males there can be two females that are hooked on drugs. But now the trend has changed. In other words, out of every five males, one can get up to four females that are drug addicts.
While some of these young ladies and married women may not be hooked up on hard drugs like cocaine, heroine and Indian hemp, popularly known as marijuana or weeds, they do indulge themselves in substance abuse like codeine syrup or other cough mixtures and other drugs that are on the prescription list which can be obtained from the normal chemist or pharmacy stores.
Some of them were reportedly led into the habit by their boyfriends or the daughters of some affluent individuals in the society who can afford to live and maintain such a lifestyle because of the resources at their disposal.
Unfortunately, the habits of these women are concealed from their parents/guardians or husbands. And sometimes these parents from the region may be living in self- denial because of the social stigma that is attached to drug addiction. According to the report, it is not uncommon to see some of these affected single ladies including married women check themselves into hotels/guest houses during the day to indulge themselves in substance abuse and return to their homes late in the night under the guise of paying visits to their friends.
Some even patronise night clubs where they smoke all kinds of drugs including cigarettes before returning to their homes after putting on their hijabs or the veils covering their heads in line with their traditional Islamic attires. And this problem may be one of the reasons for the rise in the break-up of marriages in the Northern part of the country.
It is also not unlikely that some high degree of domestic violence with some fatal consequences may be linked to this problem. Recently, a housewife of Northern Origin who is married to the son of a former Chairman of People Democratic Party (PDP) reportedly stabbed her husband to death because of an alleged infidelity by her husband . Who knows, her uncontrolled anger may be linked to drug or substance abuse.
While trying not to preempt the decision of the court that is looking into the case, it is an area that both the Prosecuting and the Defence counsels may look into or explore. Definitely, the accused was not in her normal senses when the offence was allegedly committed by her.
In the same vein, the problem of substance abuse has also been reported among the female young undergraduates from the southern part of the country. The irony of it is that some of these young girls sometimes sneak out from their faith based private universities which some of these girls have sarcastically termed glorified secondary schools. The term derives from the measures put in place by authorities of the universities to restrict students’ movement to protect them (especially the female students) from mingling anyhow with the outside world when the schools are in session.
Yet some of these girls circumvent these security measures to enable them attend night – parties/clubs where they are free to indulge themselves in all kinds of substance abuse and end up sleeping with some strangers may be to catch “some fun” or to earn extra cash for themselves to augment their pocket – money from their parents/guardians.
Incidentally, some parents of these girls in their teenage years or early twenties may not know that their wards/children are no longer “Dad’s or “Mum’s pet”. Instead some of their “loving angels” are actually drug addicts, smokers or drunkards, who sometimes drink alcohol until they get tipsy, in the company of peers.
And who is to blame for this social malady? The blame should be shared by both the parents and the society. Sometimes, some parents abdicate their roles of good parenting to the nannies/house helps or the school authorities . They fail to heed the Biblical injunction which urges parents to “train the children in the paths in which he should go. When he/she is old he will not depart from it”. Instead they delegate this crucial role without adequate supervision to their hired baby sitters/nannies or house helps who sometimes maltreat these children to the point of death or sell them off to kidnappers/ ritualists to make money for themselves before they vanish into thin air. Sometimes, some of these parents are even afraid to correct or discipline their wards whenever they notice some traits of subtle rebellion or insubordination among them. Rather they prefer to report such children to their teachers or the school authorities for the proper action needed to correct their own children.
‘’Madness resides in the hearts of little children, it is the rod of correction that will drive it out”, says another Scripture; and so parents should take full responsibility for the shaping/moulding the characters of their children from the infancy to adolescent or teenage years. To do otherwise is like playing with the future of these children whose characters may be moulded by their friends or peer pressure groups later in their lives either for good or bad.
Also the society at large has its own share of blame in the prevalence of these social delinquents. Laws are in place to restrict sales of alcoholic drinks to children who are under 18 years of age talk less or consuming them in the open. Also, there is restriction or ban of smoking cigarettes in some public places or areas. But these laws are not enforced. This has prompted our youths (both male and females) to indulge themselves in freak parties in some public places like hotels while the authorities that should be concerned look on.
Idleness is another contributing factor. Some of our young school leavers and graduates are left to roam the streets years after they left school or the completion of their mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. While it may be unthinkable or feasible for the government to provide white – collar jobs for these teeming youths that are being poured out into the labour market every year, government can provide the enabling environment to engage these youths in Agriculture (including Integrated/Mechanized farming, Mineral-mining sector and Tourism/Entertainment industry.
In addition, and in a way to complement government efforts at Federal, State and Local Government levels in ensuring that our youths are gainfully employed with a view to rescuing them from the captivity of drug addiction and other vices, our Faith – based organisations like Churches, para –Church organisations, Mosques and Non – Governmental Organisations (NGOs) can embark in the establishment of large – scale Farming/Agro – Allied and Manufacturing industries where large percentages of these youths that are roaming the streets can be employed.
The Religions leaders should not stop at teaching their Tenets of Faith to these youths, they should also encourage them to be good God – worshippers. In other words, they should take a step – further to use their structures to provide gainful employment to stem the temptation of their drift into foreign lands in search of green pastures where cruel fate sometimes awaits these youths.
It should be recalled that recently, over local media and the internet/social media were awash with the stories of how our youths among other Black – African Immigrants perished in the deserts or in the Mediterranean sea in their attempts to cross from Libya to the European countries through Italy in their fruitless search for “green pastures”.
Some Faith – based organisations in Nigeria have the have the wherewithal or the means/structures to make the pastures greener for these roaming youths, where they can lie down to drink and eat to satisfy their thirst and hunger and thus refreshing their souls instead of being sold into modern – day slavery in Libya and Saudi Arabia or forced prostitution in Europe. In extreme cases, we have shared stories of how some of these Nigerian adventurous youths end up on the slaughter slabs of some alleged cruel Chinese businessman who butchered them to harvest their internal vital organs for sale to foreign hospitals who need them for their patients.
The remedy is for the parents, the government, the school authorities, the religious organisations, NGOs, and other stakeholders to team up in a holistic way to rescue our youths from the bondage of drug abuse. And thus save our present and future generations.
*Gbemiga Olakunle , JP is General Secretary, National Prayer Movement. He can be reached at