For Nigerian celebrities to share their experiences with substance abuse in Nigeria, you know that things have become serious! Actors, Ini Edo, Dakore Egbuson-Akande, Chinedu ‘Nedu’ Ani Emmanuel and David Jones David; ViacomCBS presenter, Folu Storms; singer and vocalist, Praise 'Praiz’ Ugbede, discussed substance abuse and the lure of drugs in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Dakore Egbuson shared how she could have been a drug trafficker in the University save for her upbringing: “You wouldn't believe what’s happening out there. I remember when things were really tight. I was in the university and could travel abroad at that time. Somebody actually came up to me and said 'oh, would you want to carry some drugs and you get paid when you get there?' This was a 21-year-old me!"
“I no go lie give you. Our entertainers need to speak out more and let people know that if you have inspiration, that’s it. You don’t need to take weed. And the celebrities that the kids follow these days they celebrate the taking of this thing like yeaaaaah! Ma fagbo mi!” [the Yoruba translation for ‘I will smoke my weed!’, comedian and radio host, Nedu, pointed out.
And he didn't stop there, he pointed out that celebrities could lure young, impressionable people into addiction and drugs, indirectly: “Guess what, these guys have massive followership and if the people following you see you doing these things dem go take am dat d thing wey baba dey take, I go dey take am too.”
Actor, singer and substance-abuse advocate, David Jones David explained that many youngsters had normalized substance abuse to the extent that it was abnormal to not be involved, “It’s everywhere. If you turn to the left or right, you see someone doing drugs. It’s so normal now that when you preach against it, their response is ‘are you okay?’ It has become so normal that many children grow into it while some are born into it. Hence, someone needs to tell them that this is wrong because they have no idea!”
He shared how substances like codeine were the drinks of choice even among strangers: “Some people come into my studio and before you say, Jack Robinson, they have already put three bottles of codeine on the table, telling you ‘that’s your own o.' Like it’s very normal and when you express surprise, they are taken aback that you are shocked.”
Producer and actress, Ini Edo insisted that there is a need for drug-abuse education. She shared her experience from what could have been a drug-party: "I went to a party some time ago, they brought cannabis in trays. These were young girls from reputable universities between ages 20 to 25. They were taking Cannabis like it was normal!"
The Drug Convos is part of MTN Foundation's Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP), an initiative geared towards curbing substance-abuse among young Nigerians from ages 10-25.
L-R: (1st row): Sandra Meme, panellist; Bada Akintunde-Johnson, Country Manager, ViacomCBS Networks Africa; Yewande Oshodi, Consultant Psychiatrist and J. J. Omojuwa, Writer and Social Commentator; (2nd row): Frank Aigbogun, publisher, BusinessDay Media; Ini Edo, Nollywood actress; Oliver Stolpe, Country Representative, United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) and Odunayo Sanya, Ag. Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation; (3rd row): Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports; Dokun Adedeji, Director-General, Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry (CADAM), and Dakore Egbuson-Akande, Nollywood actress, at the virtual MTN ASAP’s Drug Convos, to commemorate International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, on Friday, June 26.