Chinedu Eze who investigated the lives of a group of five young ladies who indulge in various forms of drugs, writes about the ugly trend among youths, especially girls in Lagos who are bequeathing the obnoxious tradition to their younger ones
The use of marijuana, its verities and other types of drugs have been in the upswing. These days drug use has become part of life among the Nigerian youth, bequeathed to them by the older generation. Now, the youths are taking over drug use and it is making negative impact in their lives and in society.
Recently THISDAY investigated the lives of a group of five young ladies who indulge in various forms of drugs, the impact in their lives and how they are infecting the lives of the young ones around them with the loathsome habit.
Somewhere in Surulere, a suburb in Lagos State, a group of young girls live in one apartment without definite line of work. They earn money sleeping with men they meet in night clubs and other rendezvous. That is how they sustain their lives in the city. Back home where they come from in the state located in the Niger Delta, their families believe they are working so hard in Lagos and sent their younger siblings to them to train in school.
In their village, there is no doubt to their source of livelihood as some of them return home, driving posh cars, creating the impression they are doing well in Lagos. Besides their line of work as strumpets, another thing they have in common is that they are drug addicts. They indulge in all kinds of drugs and hard liquor even as they live together with their young ones averaging 13 to eight years. The five women have six younger siblings living with them.
They send them to school, pay their fees and cook together like in a commune. They also smoke together before the young ones who over the years have accepted inhaling marijuana smoke and its hard aroma as part of life.
“You know, weed is just vegetable. Sometimes we cook with it; sometimes we just smoke it. I came to Lagos in 2014 but I have been smoking weed for years so it is not new to me. When I smoke I am happy. Anytime I am down in spirit I smoke and become happy. Sometimes we just smoke together, exchanging it among ourselves and after we are happy and play and sing and dance.
“There was a man that had a large farm of Indian hemp near my place in the village. He was also smoking it and he was always happy, so even as a young girl then, I smoked weed because I wanted to be happy.
“When I came to Lagos I had a boyfriend who is in Immigration. He started a restaurant for me but I couldn’t cope because people who come there were always looking at my bom-bom (buttocks) and wanted to sleep with me. After some time I close the business,” intoned one of the girls who spoke to THISDAY.
Refusing to speak on what she does now for a living, she talked about the different clubs in Lagos and her capacity to stand alcohol.
“I can down half of the content of Black Label at a sitting. That is my favourite. In the club I can take many shots of tequila and still be okay. Some of my friends can take much more,” she said.
She said that it is God that would save the young siblings who are living with them because they are exposed to drug use daily.
“Right now I am living with my immediate elder sister. We have two older sisters. One is late now. When I came to Lagos I came with the daughter of my elder sister who is still alive but lives in the village. My sister that is living with me also brought the daughter of my late sister. So two of us are living with two of our nieces and I am directly in charge of one of them.
“The other girls have their relations with them. The little ones are six and we are just five adults. The niece my sister is looking after is the child of our second sister who died, leaving four children for her husband. But that man has become useless. He is always smoking weed so he was not taking care of them. He will go mad soon because he does nothing but smoke weed. He does not even eat. So he was happy when my mother came to take the children away from him,” she explained.
When asked how the kids react when the adults indulge in drugs, she responded, “They are used to it. It is God that will help them. I don’t smoke when they are around. I smoke when they go to school and I don’t smoke always. But there is one of us that cannot eat unless she smoked and she smokes when the children are there. And she doesn’t even know how to wrap weed (laughs); she will beg somebody to wrap for her. After smoking she will become hungry and eat very, very well. Without smoking she cannot eat.”
As club girls, they usually lazy about during the day, smoking marijuana and hard drugs while waiting for nightfall. The one that spoke to THISDAY however claims to be learning how to sew clothes; while another said she is a graduate and had just recently passed from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The young ones have learnt how to cook food and cook for the adults. They contribute money to cook for all and do so when they pay the bills, but everyone takes care of the young ones she brought to Lagos in terms of clothing and pay their school fees. Sometimes when they get charged after smoking they fight before the children and talk about sex and vent all kinds of vulgarity. The major platform for fighting is when one snatches another’s boyfriend (customer) in the club.
Former spokesman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mitchell Ofoyeju, told THISDAY that drug abuse has numerous negative effects on the health of the user, the family and the society at large.
“Nobody is immune from the devastating consequences of drug production, trafficking, and abuse. Drugs affect the body in various ways. Alcohol-related problems include liver cirrhosis, pancreatic, peptic ulcer, tuberculosis, hypertension and neurological disorder. It can also cause mental retardation for the fetus in the womb, growth, deficiency, delayed motor development when taken by pregnant mothers. There are equally psychiatric effects like pathological drunkenness and suicidal behaviour.
“Tobacco causes stimulation of heart and narrowing of blood vessels, producing hypertension, headache, loss of appetite, nausea and delayed growth of the fetus. It also aggravates or causes sinusitis, bronchitis, cancer, strokes, and heart attack. Abuse of stimulants can lead to lethargy, irritability, exaggerated self-confidence, damage nose linings, sleeplessness, and psychiatric complications,” he said.
Ofoyeju noted that inhalants like fuel, rubber solution, insecticides among others can cause anemia, damage to kidney and stomach bleeding, adding that narcotics cause poor perception, constipation, cough, suppression, vomiting, drowsiness, prolong sleep, unconsciousness and sudden death.
“Apart from the health effects, drug trafficking and abuse also have social consequences like broken homes, increased crime rate, sexual offenses, homicide and sexually transmitted diseases. When a trafficker is arrested and sentenced to imprisonment, the family members suffer. In most cases, they will not meet their family in peace when they complete their jail terms. Those who use drugs, on the other hand, may be involved in spouse battering. Many marriages have broken due to domestic violence induced by drug use. Most rape cases are committed under the influence of drugs.
“Dropping out of school and work is also common among people who use drugs because drug use takes pre-eminence over any other activity of value to them. Similarly, they can sell any valuable property to purchase drugs. Where there is nothing to sell, they can resort to begging, stealing and even robbery. Besides, female drug users can easily exchange sex for drugs. In the process, sexually transmitted diseases can be contracted. Terminal ailments such as HIV and hepatitis can also be spread through injecting drug use,” he said.
Ofoyeju remarked that most criminals also rely on stimulant drugs to embolden them in perpetrating their atrocious acts, stating that armed robbers, kidnappers, and terrorists at one point or another depend on drugs to function.
“In Nigeria, most youths have been caught in the web of drug abuse. The prevalent drug of abuse is cannabis also called hemp. Cannabis use is widespread because it is locally grown. Apart from cannabis, the abuse of psychoactive drugs like tramadol, cough syrups with codeine, Rohypnol, and diazepam is also common among youths who add it to soft drinks to deceive their parents from suspecting they are into drugs,” he noted.
For the six kids in the commune of the club ladies, what will be their future? Will they be able to attend university, come out and become responsible citizens, after they have been so exposed to drugs and prostitution at such early age? The answer lies in the uncertainly of tomorrow, but for the present, those young ones need to be saved.