By Femi Adesina The above-titled article as originally published by…
Dear Mr Atiku,
I am writing you this open letter to draw your attention to a virus that is spreading like a wide fire across Nigeria and those that are majorly affected by this virus are young people. I would have written this letter to President Muhammadu Buhari but why waste my time writing to a president who does not value education. In the last three years, the education budget has been the lowest in the history of Nigeria which clearly shows that this government does not place value on education, hence my reason for writing to you a true advocate of youth empowerment.
The virus that is spreading like wide-fire is the addiction to codeine syrup of many youths of my generation. For the past few years, I have viewed the intake of codeine syrup as one of those things young people engaged in while growing up until the day I saw my friend’s father crying when he saw the state his son was in due to codeine addiction and also until I watched the documentary by BBC on codeine addiction in Nigeria. The government recently released a statistics that 3million bottles of codeine syrup are consumed daily in Kano and Jigawa alone and with the effects of excessive codeine syrup intake on the body, it is no doubt that a generation is wasting away.
The youth of a nation are the trustees of its posterity and must be taken care of properly. A nation that neglects its youths is neglecting its future. Sir, let us face the truth, things have never been this bad in Nigeria and it is having a psychological effects on the youths. Under the PDP, we had social intervention programs that actually empowered youths and made us employers of labour notable among them is the YOUWIN initiative but under the APC, these programs are no longer functioning instead what we are getting is an insult called NPOWER where youths are paid 30,000 naira a month considering the present reality on ground in Nigeria unlike the YOUWIN where youths were given 20m naira grant to start a business and to make things worse, the government is still not paying the NPOWER money. I have heard many people insulting my generation, calling us lazy but it was only you sir and the PDP who rose to our defence. You even told an international audience that Nigerian youths made you successful in your businesses and that if given the opportunity they are the most hardworking sets of people in the world unlike our president who have continued to embarrass us everywhere he goes.
Sir, you have continued to prove that you understand what the youths need and that is why this letter is being directed to you. The high intake of drugs among the youths especially codeine was not this high among youths under the PDP. Frustration has led youths of my generation into drugs, my generation has never had it free unlike those before us. 7.9million people have lost their jobs under this government and majority are youths. Things are not going on well and we are frustrated.
After the BBC documentary, this government banned the production of codeine but just like other hard drugs, the producers and marketers will just go underground and continue with their business. Banning the production of codeine is commendable but it does not solve the problem, we have to tackle it from the root cause. Sir, if you have not watched the BBC documentary titled, “sweet sweet codeine”, please do so and you will understand the effect of this menace. Nigeria is gradually losing a generation and only you can help us. Banning codeine will not solve the problem, we have to tackle the root cause of unemployment, lack of proper education.
We have to empower the necessary agencies like NDLEA not just to carry out arrest of drug users but also to rehabilitate them in the best condition. Marijuana, cocaine are banned drugs but they are still easily found in the market and codeine will be no different. As the incoming president of Nigeria in 2019 which I know is the reality on ground, please save my generation, empower us, rebuild our education system so that we can be able to overcome the social issues which have led to the high intake of this drug.
Sir, the failure to save my generation from this menace as seen on the BBC documentary will be disastrous for Nigeria. A generation is gradually wasting away and Sir it is only you who can save us at this moment.
Concerned Nigerian Youth.