NIGERIANS, ALL THAT DRUGS, THE WIDOWS AND US
Ladies and gentlemen, hobos and tramps, bug-eyed mosquitoes and bowlegged ants!. I'm about to tell you a story I've never heard before, so pull up a chair and sit on the floor. Admission is free, so pay at the door. One fine day, in the middle of the night, two, dead boys got up to fight. Back to back, they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other. A deaf policeman heard the noise, and saved the lives of the two dead boys. If you don't believe my lies are true, ask the blind man, he saw it too!… By Kristin Beckstrand from Brentwood California USA.
A very good friend commonly called Uncle UST shared the above, and it captured my admonition for this week, it affects us, you and me…the oxymoron that goes on in the head of an abused person.
On the 26th June it was the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, I was at a local function with a heart, organized by a wonderful group called YARAC in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the beat of the the program was listening to ex-drug addicts, those who had substance abuse issues.
I could not say thank you enough to Professor Tor Iorapu and his team, as I sat down and reflected deep.
It was a gathering with the usual crowd, the politicians, the press and pastors/imans were missing in action, and there was no money to share. However facing a nation of 150million is various forms of abuse.
Drug abuse, power abuse, stomach abuse in Ekiti, Boko Haram and its most recent abuse in Abuja, striking at the EMAB plaza and taking away and ally and friend Sulieman Bissalah, pen man and editor par excellence.
It was sad as I pondered about the calamitous consequences of drugs on Nigeria that no one cares about, all the preventable deaths each year from overdoses. Illicit drugs spawning criminal violence and weakening Nigeria's a state's essential institutions.
How simple drugs like the Benyln cough syrup, or how the drink La casera has become opium in places like Kano, Kaduna and many Northern states, did I forget to tell us, about the opium fields in Bauchi, Gombe, and Zamfara states, in Ibadan and many villages in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, and Kogi states and we ask what does the Drug law Enforcement agency NDLEA do.
Not that one blames them totally, as they are equally abused with poor funding.
I shake my head, at a nation that continues to be abused by its own, with consent of its own, and divided by its own…as I hurt deep inside at the abuse Nigerians go through, swallowing panadol for pains that are not necessarily fault of theirs and taking paracetamol for self inflicted ones I was jolted back by the words below.
'We have been advised to avoid crowded places…
So that means Churches, Mosques, Markets, Shopping Malls, Motorparks, Airports, Schools, some Ministries, Public hospitals, Weddings, Naming Ceremonies, Burials, Workshops and conferences…right?
Those that have died or been caught up in previous bombings were not gallivanting or looking for trouble o! They were at work …UN House, on their way to work…Nyanya, in their shops, shopping and waiting for passengers or just passing by …EMAB Plaza. Nobody will see a pit and enter with their eyes open.
Oh I forgot? What about the famous Abuja traffic and hold ups at checkpoints then? How do we avoid those? May Allah protect us from the demons amongst us!
As I said a soft amen to the prayer to that ended Ramati Bako's lamentation on the abuse above, I shifted focus to the victims of all the blasts, the insecurity in the Nigerian state, and I was saddened on how we are gradually loosing it as a nation.
And who are these victims that are so unsung, apart from one story and another story, they are forgotten so easily—The widows, wives of dead soldiers, dead policemen. The wife of dead Sulieman Bisallah, widow of Col. Salisu Kabiru and that wife of late Okonkwo that would be made to go through pain unbearable while a host of us, just wish them well and move along.
Woman who lose their status, livelihood or property when her husband dies, and immediately start to face persistent abuse, discrimination, disinheritance and destitution. Subjected to harmful practices such as widow burning and 'widow cleansing' -All because of one drug mentally infested suicide bomber, or for reasons of a society that has permitted such and even more cruel forms of abuse.
The impacts on these women also become another case open for forms of not only drug abuse but also even more hidden abuse.
So I watched as the International Widow's Day was marked and no one bothered, we cared more about Ekiti, and PDP's miraculous victory and Fayemi's acceptance of defeat. But no one thought of stronger action to empower our women, promote gender equality and end all forms of violence against women.
No one in these climes thinks of our widows beyond the Politicians PR stunt, and the church/mosque pitiful pittance. They are absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations - 'the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible', according to the UN's Ban Ki Moon
Yet abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Enduring extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom…we are left with a cycle, as drug abuse is one of the many extensions of the evil berthed.
This week, one woman will be widowed, denied her right of inheritance and land rights, degraded and put in life-threatening mourning and burial rites and other forms of widow abuse.
This week, some will be evicted from their homes and physically abused - some even killed - even by members of their own family. A widow will tomorrow be stigmatized and seen as a source of shame.
In the East and some other parts some will be treated as witches and bearers of the ill luck that killed their hubbies.
The children of widows often affected, both emotionally and economically, will take to drugs, as these kids will be forced to withdraw from school, daughters of these widows will suffer multiple deprivations, increasing their vulnerability to abuse.
I have left out politics this week, let us empower our widows through access to adequate healthcare, education, decent work, full participation in decision-making and public life, and give them lives free of violence and abuse, give them a chance to build a secure life after bereavement. Importantly, creating opportunities for widows to protect their children and avoid the cycle of inter-generational poverty, deprivation and abuse of not only drugs, but abuse of esteem.
Nigeria battles with these social issues, too long invisible, 'undiscussed', and ignored, the effects on our society, how bad—Only time would tell?
Yours In High Regards
Written By Prince Charles Dickson