Pubdate: Mon, 15 Dec 2008
Source: Leadership Nigeria (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2008 Leadership Newspapers Group Limited
Author: Joshua Uma
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Worried by the high rate of cannabis cultivation in the  country 
particularly in the South South geo-political  area, the Executive 
Governor of Edo State, Comrade  Adams Aliyu Oshomole and the 
Honourable Chairman/Chief  Executive of the National Drug Law 
Enforcement Agency  (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade have strongly advocated for 
youth  empowerment in the country, as the only option to 
end  cannabis cultivation and narcotics problem in the  state.

This was disclosed at a workshop organised by the  anti-narcotics 
Agency in Benin City Edo State at the  weekend. In which Oshiomhole 
identified lack of  adequate planning for youths in the country as 
one of  the factors responsible for the involvement in illicit  drug 
activities. He noted that "in the past the nation  planned for the 
youth but in today Nigeria , the  situation is not the same. At the 
University of Benin  some years back, before graduation as a 400 
level student, there are various employers of labour as well  as 
various public authorities coming to conduct  interviews in order to 
identify potential employees but  the situation today has also changed".

Speaking passionately, the people's governor as he is  usually 
referred to said that the root causes rather  than consequences of 
illicit drug cultivation, abuse  and trafficking should be addressed. 
He noted that in  time past when students were in school, they had 
decent  accommodation and even had their beds made for them.  This 
condition inculcated in them the feeling and  mentality of future 
managers and potential members of  the middle class. Ironically, the 
governor lamented  that the present condition of living where about 
12 students are locked up in a small 'cell' called hostel  makes our 
students to "graduate angry and hungry  against the society".

The honourable Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA,  Ahmadu Giade 
in his welcome address said that the  choice of Edo State as the host 
of the South South  campaign was because the State has the highest 
seizure  of cannabis in the country. He lamented that illicit  drug 
activities are not only becoming a threat to the  image of the 
country but also a danger to our youths  who are the future hope of 
the country.

According to Giade whose address was presented by the  Director 
General of the Agency, Otunba Lanre Ipinmisho,  "the South South 
region is neck-deep in cannabis  cultivation and trafficking. The 
situation is very bad.  In the course of our discreet covert 
operations we have  uncovered very many illicit cannabis plantations 
in the  South South than in any other region of the country. We  have 
equally found to our chagrin that most of the  young men and women 
being used as labourers on these  clandestine farm locations are 
school age children".

The NDLEA boss said that "in times past, this region  was the envy of 
all. I recall with nostalgic feelings  the establishment of Afuze 
camp where the best sports  men and women were produced to fly the 
flag of Nigeria  in both local and international competitions. It 
is  also worthy of note that a respected Amazon, professor  Grace 
Alele Williams, the first female Vice Chancellor  ever to be produced 
in the country is from this  region".

The usual frenzy in the area brought about by the  activities of oil 
prospecting companies and supporting  industries is gradually 
disappearing Giade observed. He  added that the question on the lips 
of many is that,  must we then destroy the glorious accomplishments 
of this region on the altar of drug cultivation and  trafficking? The 
simple answer according to him is No.  he therefore sounded a note of 
warning to drug barons  that they will reap the bitter fruit of their 
illicit  act.

"We are determined more than ever before to smash these  cartels. We 
are not going to spare anyone hiding under  any cover to perpetrate 
criminal act. Any attempt to  aid and abet or obstruct our 
determination to sanitise  this geo-political area and the country of 
illicit  drugs will be vehemently resisted. The Agency will  continue 
to investigate and trace drug barons to their  hideouts. We shall 
trace them to their cannabis  plantations as we have always done. We 
shall also trace  them to their secret warehouses and take the battle 
to  their living rooms. There will be no hiding place for  them" Giade warned.

The NDLEA boss also said that the Agency is open to  dialogue and 
that the workshop is one of such numerous  ways of feeling the pulse 
of the society concerning  their activities. He therefore urged the 
participants  to feel free to express themselves on the issues that 
will be raised. According to Giade, "the workshop is an  academic 
exercise where we are allowed to make mistakes  and effect 
corrections so that at the end we would  emerge stronger and well 
armed for the battle ahead is  fierce."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom