According to the anti-narcotics agency in Nigeria, the majority of Nigerian agricultural farmers have decided to skip growing food and other economic crops and are replacing their crops with cannabis plants instead. Apparently they all want to become instant millionaires.
The chairperson of Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade, told the media in a statement that it is “sad and disturbing” to see that most of the Nigerian farmers are abandoning food and other crops in order to grow cannabis.
The NDLEA has been fighting a losing battle against the sale and usage of cannabis in the African country. In 2012, they arrested 8,052 suspected drug traffickers, which included 542 women. However, according to the head of the agency, more than 1,400 hectares of land were put aside for cannabis cultivation and plantation in the same year.
Giade stressed the fact that if the 1,400 hectares of arable land had been properly utilized by the country’s agricultural sector, their fortunes would have improved. Instead of that, in 2012 the agency seized cannabis worth 33 million naira ($208m). On top of this, the courts had to prosecute 1,720 suspects, although Giade didn’t say just how many of the suspects were actually convicted by the agency.
Apparently it was not only cannabis involved in the busts, as the NDLEA also seized quantities of amphetamine, cocaine, ephedrine, heroine and methamphetamine.
Giade continued in his statement to say they will continue to “dislodge more drug trafficking syndicates” as they are indirectly saving lives every time they seize the drugs from the criminals. However, arresting the criminals isn’t stopping farmers from replacing food with cannabis as their main crop in Nigeria.
Giade added that the drug traffickers had very original hiding places for the seized drugs, including bangles, buttons, ear rings, belts and necklaces. The drugs, other than the home-grown cannabis apparently came into Lagos from Brazil and Pakistan.
Meanwhile other media reports are quoting unemployment, abject poverty and a lack of education in relation to drug use in northern Nigeria.
Dr Ekpein Appah, camp co-ordinator for the Kano Reformatory Institute in Kiru, said that the country can be “like a jungle.” He said that you have to fight to survive and it is that fight which is driving young people to use drugs.
In an interview with one of the young people in a holding cell at the NDLEA headquarters, Abdullahi, 28, said that the reason they use drugs is to enjoy their lives. He said that he had been smoking cannabis for six years and at first it used to make him feel free and happy. He started smoking cannabis because he was unemployed and bored.
Abdullahi said that there are drug sellers everywhere in the cities and so many people, old and young, are using drugs because there is nothing better to do there.
It seems that with the current economic and unemployment climate in Nigeria drugs are becoming more popular, causing the farmers to want to “get rich quick” by replacing their food crops with cannabis.
By Anne Sewell