“We have to start taking care of our weed, Igbo such that we can also contribute to the GDP of the world of people who are...some of the best weed in the world are grown in Ekiti state and …I’m very serious. People are making billions out of that plant that is very potent in Nigeria, we should be focusing on it our NDLEA should get the memo that Nigeria will be exporting weed to cure cancer in other parts of the world instead of chasing after people who are growing weed when they are not chasing after politicians who are smoking cocaine in their own houses …”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
On the profound day that was the 15th of August 2018, at an event on plans for health care organised by the Centre for Social Justice, Nigeria , Presidential Aspirant Omoyele Sowore who is renowned for his brash honesty and generating disruptive idea’s in systems while engaging on his plans for health when elected made the now controversial statement on the his plans to export weed for medical and economic purposes much to the stupefaction of the persons in the moderately lit room and conservative Nigeria. Three weeks later, the story is generating heated controversy as well as it is generating debate and here’s why.
Proponents of this thought are, young, eccentric and suspiciously somewhat too overly excited at the prospect of a Nigeria where marijuana or “igbo” as it is popularly called will be cultivated and exported and perhaps regulated for medicinal and recreational use within the country, they are high on the prospect.
On instagram, popular musician Hadiza Blell or Dija @Aphrodija reacting to the now viral video said “when you look at this from the pharmaceutical benefits, he isn’t lying. The average mind will think he is taking drugs and trying to lead youths astray but countless studies have shown that the war on weed is by pharmaceutical companies realising there is a cure in this so-called drug if not abused. CBD has been taking care of multiple sclerosis, seizures caused by autoimmune deficiencies etc. It’s funny how we say drugs but we’ve been on horrible fake pharmaceutical drugs in a minute!! Also, keep in mind all drugs(pharmaceuticals are from plants). So there is truth to what this man is saying but using the terminology weed will not allow people see past what I believe he is trying to say”.
An excited @kingpexxie still on instagram said “immorality or morality as long as its legal in some countries it boosts our economy then we good to go”, smiley face and muscle emoji.
In a humorous twist on twitter “the green in our flag= marijuana, then the white= paper roller”@Beridaefimile said. Adding, @wildthoughs said “nothing will change except t he logo of the weed on the white part”.
MARIJUANA? NO, FULL STOP.
“no way”, “imagine what a youth aspirant is saying”, “you had my votes but you don’t anymore “, “Pablo Escobar junior” among others are halting words that were used by other Nigerian’s to describe the intention that was expressed by Mr. Sowore.
Their belief is echoed in the words of Muhammad Isuwa in Abuja that “Nigeria has many problems and marijuana is not one of them”.
BUILDING A HEMP-IRE
Apparently, Nigeria is sitting on a goldmine. Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant used for medical or recreational purposes. Some uses include serving as pain reliever for cancer sufferers, hair growth stimulants, ropes, insecticides and even fabric. In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis 2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65 generating an estimated $36 Billion Dollar every year.
Why then is Nigeria not cashing in knowing this potential money spinner? Because it is illegal according to our laws.
According to the Presidential aspirant on the platform of the African Action Congress Omoyele Sowore, “it is because we have leaders with analogue brains “, period. He argues that “Nigeria has not been able to move past where it is in the global economy because of repressive laws and lack of leaders with foresight. He adds that “Nigeria is governed by people whose generation have passed and they don’t understand present realities, neither can they offer different ideas from what they have already done before “.
WHAT ITS REALLY ABOUT
For analysts, the conversation is really not about cannabis but about starting conversations that stimulate Nigerians to creativity and intellectualism. Disrupting and providing innovative ideas, alternatives: a concept foreign to over 70% of Nigeria’s young population who have seen the same set of leaders drive thought for two or three decades.
Sowore whose #takeitback movement metamorphosed into the African Action Congress to contest the 2019 general elections in Nigeria has consistently delivered novel conversations to the political space, a break from the usual “wrapper and salt” and “I promise you “ conversations tilting Nigerian’s for the first time to debate issues of economic and global prospects: even if it’s for the temporary, for high sake.
The burden on the conscience to perpetuate this conversation and other stands out ideas for posterity is lurking in comment sections, videos, and follow-up interviews, watching to see if Nigerians behind the keypad will betray this intervention.