By popular demand, here’s the concluding part our of interview with drug and substance abuse expert, Dr Dokun Adedeji. Not to worry, if you missed the first part, you can find it here
Universities must sit down and agree on admission age .Any child less than 17 should not enter into Nigerian University. Many of the people we are beginning to see would be 19 year old final year on drugs for 2 years. They get to school, they are 14/15. They meet people who are a bit more mature. These are people who have never been allowed to do things on their own. They have low self esteem so when they now get to school, they want to belong. They are not mature mentally, even physically to be able to appreciate school
Do you know today people don’t have to go to the joints to buy drugs, they can order drugs online.
Here in Nigeria?
It used to happen abroad. I’m sure its happening in Nigeria now. They brought some Nigerian children who were schooling in Canada and they said that’s how they were buying. I’m sure these things are happening in Nigeria now.
When children receive a package,sometimes maiguards,drivers buy drugs for the children. I know some universities where some ancillary workers are the ones that buy those stuff. Keke riders. There’s a guy I know,he bought his drugs from the guy selling icecream across their school compound. How much does the school know about drugs? How much does the church know about drugs?People are in a state of denial.’Oh, No it doesn’t happen here’’not my child’.
It was documentated in the nation newspaper about 3 months ago. A bright young boy had gotten admission in the university. When he finished his school SAT, his friends decided to have party. When he was leaving, he put some street clothes in his bag. His sister saw it and asked what they were for. He said ‘ Don’t tell mummy’. They were the only 2 children of their mother who was a widow. She said she would join him for the party. At the party they were taking Alomo, tramadol and all kinds of drugs in heavy mixtures.After a while the boy went into respiratory distress. They all got into a car. The children were getting off at different stops. They called the mum,by the time they took him to the hospital he had died. The mother found out from the sister that he was doing drugs. She was shocked. This was a boy who asks for only cocacola and malt when they go out .She never knew and they live in the same house.
Most parents live with strangers in their houses. They parents travel all over the world doing business leaving their children. Those children will destroy the business they leave behind.People don’t sit down to build their homes now. That’s the mess you’re seeing in Nigeria.
My family went to Shoprite in Ghana. I am a very observant person. Virtually all the young people that entered into the mall didn’t have funny hairdos ,didn’t wear earrings or have sagging trousers on . One hour we didn’t see one. Go to Shoprite in Nigeria, you see children with funny hairdos, they dye their hair, boys putting on earrings and boys sagging. Parents say it’s culture. What kind of culture?
Sagging culture is prison culture. So why are we allowing it?
The moment we let children loose with little things, they would get loose with big things. We better get serious. It’s not about stifling them. I’ts about sitting down with them and letting them understand. My 8 year old daughter saw a young boy sagging and asked me ‘Why does Mr so and so wear his trousers like that?’ I said it’s because he doesn’t understand that sagging is a prison culture. She said ‘Ehen, I don’t know why he sags’.Would you not think that 8 years is too small. If you hear some of the questions my daughter asks me.I take her sometimes to my ministry. She asks who they are, I tell her. You better let these children know otherwise they would experiment. How much do parents know about drugs?
Do you know they can smoke in your house and they go and buy it and you wouldn’t know.They way they speak/their coded language. If they want to buy marijuana they say ‘so mu efo dani ?(literarily means did you bring vegetables) or have you brought eja(fish)? They have all kinds of terms/slangs for drugs. And yet we sit down there, we don’t care. Today instead of letting a child develop we buy them smart phones. There’s no time to engage them.
In order for them not to distract you you give the a phone, you put on the TV so they are out of your face. We are losing our children,that’s why drugs is taking them. Thats why I feel so depressed. People say ‘we don’t know about your ministry’but when they have issues they call me,how do they know?.Nigerians wait for things to become personal before we do something about a general situation.Let me give you an example’ I tell my friends’ give me some money to support this center. They say no no no. They call them ‘area boys’ Sit down 10 area boys and talk to them, 7 of them are graduates. I’ve seen graduates from University of Massachusetts, London School of Economics, fancy universities, Nigerian universities-Ife. Some of them are in the garage.I still know some of them till today. Some of them were my collegues in Ife.I see them in the joints.
It baffles me when we transfer responsibilities.” Oh look at that man, may God help him’. Would God come down from heaven to help him? When you have the wherewithal.
You would be surprised to know how much I have struggled to get money for this ministry. We spend about 4 million a month. The only money that comes to us on a statutory basis is 100000 Naira a month from a church that we spoke to and a parent church (Redeem Christian Church Of God) that gives 5 million every quarter so how do we make up? Asking. Asking friends, would you like to give a bag of rice this month? A bag of garri? We are an NGO. I have found out that Nigerians don’t really care.
Look at Festive season. People carry children out for Christmas parties. What happens to them after Christmas? You don’t show up again. I read one, Dino Melaye, he had his birthday party in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Is it now he knew there were people there? They make a show of people’s poverty, they make a show of peoples suffering. Companies would come, and put it in their annual report that they donating 2bags of rice,4 cartons of bournvita. Would that last them a year?
If we don’t invest in these children and help them on a long term basis we are going to create miscreants in our country. 10 years down the line there would be nobody to be in Senate except drug addicts. Those are the things that bother me. That’s why I have dedicated the rest of my life to this and I don’t care what it would cost. Because if we don’t wake up we are going to lose our future. That baffles me. That’s why I speak. I want people to know that we are sitting on a tinderbox.
Sometimes when I speak, parents walk up to me and say I’m just exaggerating but the young people say the man hasn’t given you the details’. The things that are going on in Nigerian universities, most parents would faint and some know that their kids are on drugs. They know and take them to Christian Universities as if that would change them. One boy was rusticated from a university, his parents brought him here. The Dad said, since he was rusticated we’ve been carrying him around, we don’t give him space. The boy was rusticated for marijuana. I told the father to let the boy speak. The boy reeled out the kind of drugs he was into. I asked him when last he took drugs. He said 3 days ago. The father was shocked. They take codeine, marijuana and heavy menthol sweets. They are talking to you and you don’t know what they have done. He goes to the toilet and opens the window and sprays the room. It’s because he doesn’t want you to smell anything. I wish to God that parents would get serious. It’s breaking my heart. We are killing our children. Leaving them exposed to drugs. Some parents only know drugs to be marijuana(Igbo). No. Marijuana today is ;like pure water. You can get it anywhere, cheap. What about tramadol, what about Rohypnol(date rape drug)? There’s Skunk/SK (dried pawpaw leaves+cocaine+marijuana), ’opaiyi’,alomo bitters with all sorts of cocktails
TELL TALE SIGNS OF KNOWING YOUR CHILD IS ON DRUGS
I can only give a few. The rest is left to you. If you know your child ,you would know when things change. When a boy who used to be obedient becomes stubborn, recalcitrant, doesn’t care about his physical self anymore, doesn’t comb his hair, you have to force him to take a shower. He hangs on his door ‘do not disturb’, the kind of culture he identifies with are those rugged cultures. Some even drop out of school and many parents don’t know. The way to know is this; ask his teacher how he/she fares in class. I asked a parent to keep tabs on their child. The father dropped him in school, checked back in 30 minutes and he was nowhere to be found. The fact that you drop your child in school doesn’t mean they are in school. How many parents go for PTA meetings? They don’t, especially the Fathers. They say they are working for money. A child begings to wear dark sun glasses at home, wears strong perfume. I’m not saying all who do this are using drugs but those are signs to look out for. There was a woman who came, she just noticed methylated spirit in the house was disappearing. So I told her,buy a new one in the presence of your son. Let him see where you put it then go hide it. The next morning,he said’mummy where is the methylatred spirit’. He had scattered the house. The boy was sniffing methylated spirit.If you don’t watch your children, you would miss some of these things. Don’t be paranoid, but the question is ‘how much of your child do you really know? Your child is changing friends frequently, watch his friends, how do they behave? Those are some of the things you need to watch out for. His grades are dropping in school, a child who used to be very bright. A child starts eating too much, eating too much is a post marijuana symptom. You can’t have all the answers because it depends on the drugs they are taking. It is you that must know your child and know when you’re child is behaving different from what you are used to. Something is wrong, it may not be drugs but something is wrong.
visitors at one of the centers
ABOUT THE REHAB CENTERS
We have 2 in Epe, 1 in Onibudo. The onibudo center is for vocational training. When we take people it’s between 6 months and 1 year, the people who spend 6 months are undergraduates. It’s fully residential. We have staff who live with them, clinical psychologists and psychiatrics who visit and we have a social worker. We entertain all their issues. Drugs are not the only problem, what made the person go into drugs? Low self esteem and all kinds of misdemeanour. If you take away the drugs without sorting that out it would pop up again. We delve into the individual, why did he/she go into drugs? What is sustaining the drug habit? We deal with it. We make them understand that drugs would destroy them and their future. They eventually leave drugs of their own accord. If we are going to take someone in our ministry, you must show a sign of willingness. If a father brings his son and the child says he doesn’t have a drug problem we can’t take him. Because we don’t lock them up, we don’t chain people. We give them their own freedom so they can make up their minds whether they want their lives to be better. If you want to leave we let you leave, it’s not by force. It’s by a conscious realisation of what your life is and what you want your life to be. The 1st 6 months is spent in one center, the next 6 months (particularly for men) is spent in another center to learn vocational traning especially for men. Those who have been on the streets/out of work for a long time so they can live independent lives. Some from there go back to school, to universities and graduate. Those who are undergraduates or professionals spend 6 months. We let them spend 6months.
For women it’s one year straight in one center. The women sometimes can be troublesome because some of them have added prostitution to it. When they know they need drugs, the prostitution brings money that feeds the drug culture. We try to wean them off all those things and to the glory of God we have quite a number of people doing well.
HOW CAN PEOPLE SUPPORT THIS CAUSE?
It’s not only money we need. People can donate their time. They can mentor or find time to come and spend with them. Or give us food stuff. If one person commits to giving a bag of rice a month for a year, it is something for us.We consume about 15 bags of rice, 8 bags of beans,15 bags of garri, cartons of sphaghetti,8 25L kegs of palm oil a month. I mean, there are all kinds of things, you can give us computers, office furniture,house furniture,books,audio visual materials. StanbicIBTC came gave us 100s of books. We are trying to set up a library, because people who come are very educated and they need to be engaged. Above all we want people to visit, it’s when people visit, they would see the true meaning of what I’m saying. That I’m not just blowing grammar. We can even take them to the joints. There is no joint in Lagos I don’t know except it’s a new one. Joints are places where people smoke , drink and use all kinds of drugs. Some people live there. They leave their homes to stay there because the drugs have gotten to them so much that they don’t have a home to go to anymore .It’s very pathetic. People sleep on the floor. You would see the kind of ghetto lives people live because of what drugs has done to them. Why do you think there’s a high rate of criminal activity? Drugs. This problem affects all of us.If your child doesn’t use drugs, someone else’s will and become a thief and a murderer in Shitta or Apongbon. Lets be selfish for altruistic reasons.
Dr Dokun Adedeji