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OSHIOMHOLE, NDLEA SEEK SOLUTION ON CANNABIS CULTIVATION 

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.” (c) leadership newspapers, 15 Dec 2008
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