This Codeine problem is not a new problem – Viola Okolie

This Codeine problem is not a new problem – Viola Okolie

It would take a whole lot of guts to pick up a knife and stab your fellow human, right?

Some people do it out of anger and provocation, it doesn’t lessen the crime though, they still get to do the time but the fact remains that they can claim you actually did something to them or provoked them to the extent that they lashed out in anger and you were the casualty.

But what about people who can snuff a life out in a moment (and in increasingly graphic ways), just for the heck of it?

It would take a lot of guts, right?
Even if that “guts” is spent with a different set of letters.
Ruona Meyer’s “Sweet Sweet Codeine” BBC documentary was not so much an eye opener as it was a scab peeler for anyone who has lived some part of their lives in the North, especially Kano State.

There was no scarcity of wild eyed, husky voiced young men in Kano, who were ever ready to brain you with a cudgel; or disembowel a heavily pregnant woman with a scythe – at little to no provocation.

All that was needed really, was a rumour.
Something that gave off the impression that someone in far away Denmark (just for the sake of argument), had penned a cartoon that seemed to bring disrespect to the person of the muslim’s prophet. They would never fully stop to understand what ever the issues were, but the bloodlust would commence and last for days until the security forces got tired of waiting for the killings to stop as abruptly as they started, and step in to enforce peace.

When you complained, you were told to keep quiet and face your front since these boys needed little to no provocation to be violent, all of them were classified under the heading of “sha sha sha”; meant to symbolize drunkards, but which covered a wide range of sins, including drugs.

Codeine was one of the high producing drugs of choice that was willfully abused.
But don’t get too bored yet, codeine costs some money – cheap as it is. There were other ways that these boys found to get high.

One of these was “solution”.

The first time someone in Kano told me to ignore a young man who was being belligerent towards me, that he was just acting under the influence of “solution”, I was a bit confused as to what problem this young man had solved and was having such a visibly angry reaction to.

Turns out that these boys buy a jar of the glue that is used for constructing shoes by the artisan cobblers; then they would stir it up rapidly to activate the fumes, and then sniff two lungs full of the fumes in order to get high.

You drink one bottle of codeine and that is it right? Well, you can get ten good highs out of the can of glue and it would still be good to go.

Ah, what of the soakaway fumes?
Again, gum and codeine costs money – but you can get a nose full of shit for zero costs whatsoever.
Find a soakaway tank (septic tank to the non Nigerians), crack a hole in one corner, and literally chop shit. Just to get high.

If the government of the day claims not to know that these abuses have been going on for decades now, then they are just deluding themselves – not us. The way they act surprised that citizens are abusing codeine in spite of the fact that this piece of information had been circulating for some time and all the BBC documentary did was to blow it up and give it international coverage – is the most amusing part of this sorry debacle for me.

Part of those expressing all this umbrage, are politicians who knew that these boys were high on drugs; and made use of them to fight their dirty partisan wars.

Who else can forget that video of Kwankwasiyyas and Shekarites fighting in Kano over only God knows what. None of the yobs wielding cudgels had an idea of the major issues, but they were maiming and killing each other in broad daylight.

No arrests have been made to date.

Drug wasted boys.

Doing the dirty job for politicians who now want us to believe they are indeed outraged that people who would brain and scalp each other for peanuts, were not acting under the influence of cheap drugs.

Hence the killing an ant with a sledge hammer move of the closing down of the implicated pharmaceuticals companies.

Funny country. Playing to the gallery in a crazy war, unfortunately for them, the majority of the spectators are jaded and do not give a four-pronged utensil about their antics any longer.

Recently in the United States of America, there was a widely celebrated case of teenagers eating tide pods (small pods of concentrated laundry detergents), as part of what was meant to be a “fun” challenge.

There were over 12,000 poison control calls over teenagers who fell ill after ingesting the pods but the government did not shut down P&G. Rather, they made it more difficult for anyone to easily pick up a tide pod and chow down on it.

The opioid crisis is still raging, people getting addicted to and consequently, abusing prescription pain killers and yet; the US government is yet to shut down any of the pharmaceutical companies that produce the most easily accessed and abused opioids rather they have made it more difficult to get opioids and also put in place efficient rehab programs for addicts.

We complain about how guns kill people – especially children – recklessly in the United States of America, yet we are yet to see anyone calling for a total round up and burning of all the guns in the country. No, instead everyone is calling for stricter gun control laws that would make it more difficult for guns to find their ways into the wrong hands.

Yet Naija and their usual going after the ant with a sledge hammer.

Like someone has tried to explain, “it was because one Emzor staff was caught  on video confirming that he knew codeine was being abused yet moved it in large numbers to meet his target”.

I don’t know how that validates this sledge hammer move though. I know that banks regularly fish out staff who are defrauding customers. What does CBN then do? Punish and prosecute the erring staff or shut down the entire bank?

If you can answer that question correctly, you will see how NAFDAC is running around like a bull in a China shop, fooling no one but themselves.
Emzor is not the only pharmaceutical company that produces codeine laced drugs NAFDAC, if you want to be that way, shut all of them down since you already have your hand on the sledgehammer.

Emzor and Bioraj and Peace Standard out, other pharmaceutical companies would continue to produce and circulate the codeine – the thing crying will still be crying.

Until you learn to be more strategic.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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1 Comment

  1. Adebayo Lamikanra

    It is most unfortunate that people who don’t have any knowledge of what they are talking about still go ahead to make authoritative statements which more often than not are very wide off the mark. Emzor, in my opinion was responding to the harmful demands of ignorant addicts by producing stacks of codeine syrup. Any pharmaceutical manufacturer that responds in this manner should be sealed off because it has violated the code which regulates the practice of pharmacy. I wonder how many of those products end up in pharmacy stores under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. In case you are wondering, I am a pharmacist.


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