By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Mr. Benjamin Kalu, a spokesman of the House of Representatives, has said cannabis would aid Nigeria’s industrial drive and boost her internally generated revenue (IGR). Kalu spoke on Monday, 17th May, 2021. But an Islamic human rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has countered this claim. According to the group, the legalisation of cannabis will be the last nail in the coffin of morality in Nigeria.
MURIC’s reaction came through its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 19th May 2021.
He said, “A spokesman of the House of Representatives, Mr. Benjamin Kalu, has solicited for the legalisation of cannabis in Nigeria. We strongly condemn this attempt to compartmentalise Nigerians into vicious drug cartels. Benjamin Kalu wants to turn Nigeria into another Mexico on the African continent.
“We already have serious security challenges. Boko Haram has been here for more than a decade. We have homegrown kidnapping crisis. Desperate separatist movements have turned into terrorists. We have cultism-related killings in our cities and among our young students.
“The Glorious Qur’an has diagnosed the Nigerian problem with microscopic accuracy. It said, ‘Evil has appeared on both land and sea as a result of the handiworks of men so that Allah may give them a taste of their deeds and perchance they will turn back from their evil (Qur’an 30:41 Zahara al-fasad fil-barri wal-bahr..)
“The security challenges we are currently facing are punishments for our recklessness. Instead of thinking of making criminal elements in the country ‘turn back from their evil’, Kalu wants to cap the edifice with drug war. There is no gainsaying the fact that the legalisation of cannabis will be the last straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of its impact on insecurity and the last nail in the coffin of morality in Nigeria in terms of the country’s descent into the abyss of moral debauchery which began a long time ago.
“Of course we know where Kalu is coming from. This lawmaker spoke in Akure, the capital of Ondo State on Monday 17th May, 2021. Nigerians will recall that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has been advocating for the legalisation of cannabis since 2019. There is no doubt that he has not given up. Kalu is his latest recruit into his cannabis promotion camp.
“The Akeredolu school of thought is only thinking of the material aspect and economic gains obtainable from the legalisation of cannabis sativa (also known as Indian hemp). According to Kalu, The Global Industrial Hemp Market which was valued $5b in 2019 is projected to reach $36b by 2026. He also argued that countries like Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa have legalised cannabis. In addition, he contended that marijuana is medicinal, that it would create jobs, boost foreign exchange (with an estimated value of $125 billion by 2025).
“We know about all these but has Kalu and his principal, Akeredolu, given the ‘Nigerian condition’ any thought? Have they put in place the necessary precautions? Do Nigerians obey laws? Do they listen to simple instructions? Where else in the world do you have people driving in the opposite direction (one way) when there are bold traffic signs warning against it?
“Has Kalu thought of thousands of innocent lives cut short by commercial drivers who indulge in taking drugs at the motor parks and immediately jump inside their vehicles to take unsuspecting Nigerians to their early graves? Can Kalu convince us that those who burned hundreds of brand new luxurious buses of the Lagos State Government during the #EndSARS protests were sober and totally drug-free? Cannabis had not been legalised at that time. Does he want a proliferation of that disaster by giving easier access to cannabis?
“Nigeria is passing through unimaginable social trauma at this period. The crime rate is very high and it is mostly induced by drug. Suicide is rising by the day and many cases have been traced to drugs. The major point raised by Kalu and Akeredolu has been economic benefit but what have the politicians done with all the billions of dollars from oil all these years?
“The Bible says, ‘For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world but lose his own soul’ (Mark 8:36)? What does Nigeria stand to gain if it makes billions of dollars from cannabis but destroys the country? You cannot sow the wind without reaping the whirlwind. We already have large number of youths whose lives have been ruined by taking drugs even without legalising cannabis. What then should we expect if we eventually make it legal? Students, area boys, cultists will go haywire. Drug-related cases will increase in psychriatic hospitals.
“Cannabis may have its benefits but the disadvantages outway the advantages. We therefore call on the House of Representatives to reject any attempt to smuggle the cannabis bill into the hallowed House. This House must not become the House of Marijuana. It must remain the House of Reform, Progress and Dignity.
“We advise Governor Akeredolu to drop his cannabis dream for massive investment in food production. Our people are hungry. Our land is fertile. Give us yam, rice and cassava pyramids. No to drug addiction. No to marijuana.