‘I’m going to the moon right now!’ Ebuka exclaimed as he mounted the table in the sitting room. Wiping the tiny drops of perspiration from his face, he beat his chest proudly, and screamed ‘All hail the latest king of Ajegunle!’
‘Wonders shall never end!’ Nne sighed at the dramatic performance by her son, ‘this is what you get when you watch too many Nollywood films.’
‘Lady, will you marry me?’ the adamant Ebuka faced his mother in outstretched arms, ‘silver or gold, I have none…’
‘Ebuka, is this a joke or what?’ Nneoma frowned.
‘Lady, are you ready to accept my proposal or not?’ the seriousness on Ebuka’s face was unmistaken.
‘Chinekee!’ Nne screamed, dropping the pawpaw she was peeling, and ran out for help.
Nne’s neighbours dashed into her apartment within the next few seconds. Without wasting time, one of the men gently brought Ebuka down from the table and forced him onto a chair.
‘My enemies are at work again ooo!’ Nne’s cries drowned all the other voices, ‘first, it was my husband…and now…my only son; my only hope…’
‘Leave me alone!’ the erratic boy kicked, ‘I’m going to the moon…’
‘Holy Ghost fire! Holy Ghost fire!!’ Nne and some of the women chanted frantically.
‘Please, there’s no need for all that!’ a teenage boy about the same age with Ebuka interrupted. Then pulling the distraught Nne aside, he tried to pacify her.
‘Mummy take it easy,’ he scratched his head as he spoke, ‘please exercise a little patience. Ebuka would be fine… your son is a ‘science student…’
‘And so, what?’ Nne flared, ‘is there anyone in this compound who does not know my son is offering science subjects in school? Even the blind man in my family knows that my boy wants to become an Engineer!’
The teenage boy shook his head and whispered to his counterpart.
‘Woman yin o ja si (this woman is naïve)!’
‘You talk too much!’ his counterpart scolded him, ‘if she must find out the truth, must it come from you?’
‘Please do you have Promethazine Codeine syrup?’ a middle-aged man asked a drug vendor over the counter.
‘No,’ the drug vendor replied without paying close attention to the customer.
‘It seems the product is scarce; this is the third shop I would check today,’ the middle-aged man remarked, ‘please how soon would you have it?’
The vendor looked up and observing the desperation on the customer’s face, he smiled.
‘Are you willing to pay one thousand naira for it?’
‘For just a bottle or the carton?’ the puzzled man probed.
‘Baba, please, if you can’t afford a bottle for one thousand naira, then forget it,’ said the vendor.
The middle-aged man bit his lower lip and shook his head. and just then another customer walked into the shop and demanded for the same drug. And as the vendor attended to the new entrant, the middle-aged man whispered to the new customer.
‘It would be better if you ask for the price first.’
Ignoring him, the customer paid the sum of three thousand naira and walked away with three bottles of Promethazine Codeine syrup.
Rooted on the same spot, the middle-aged man watched in utter amazement as another customer walked in and demanded for five bottles of the same drug.
‘Confirmed science student!’ the vendor hailed the latest entrant.
‘That’s my name!’ the customer responded, ‘but first, please mix the usual for me.’
‘At your service, boss!’ the vendor smiled.
The middle-aged man watched in amazement as the vendor prepared a concoction of Promethazine Codeine syrup with another liquid and handed it over to the new customer, who drank the entire content in a single gulp!
‘More please,’ the customer spoke with a livid voice.
‘Not here boss,’ the vendor objected as he handed him what’s remaining of his orders, ‘the-little-drops of water, make a mighty ocean.’
‘Please…’ he pleaded.
‘No,’ the vendor insisted, ‘I’m not in the mood to watch a ‘home movie’ here.’
The ‘science student’ opened another bottle and drank some of it.
‘The-little-drops of water…makes a mighty ocean!’ he mimed as he walked out of the shop.
‘I can smell a rat,’ the middle-aged man remarked the moment the third customer left, ‘what’s going on here?’
‘Baba, with all due respect, I swear if you don’t leave here immediately, I would call my boys to bundle you out.’
The man shook his head as he left.
‘And make sure you don’t come back here again…’ the vendor called after him.
At a press conference granted by the Minister of Health to a group of Journalists.
Minister of Health: The abuse of codeine via the intake of cough medicines and painkillers cannot be overemphasized. Many of our youths now engaged themselves in the intake of this drugs in order to feel ‘high.’ As a measure to curb the increase of drug abuse amongst these youths especially, the federal government has banned the production of codeine-containing syrup in the country. The ban takes immediate effect.
Journalist: Please ma, can you tell us how the federal government intends to ensure swift compliance?
Minister of Health: Thank you very much for that question. We have directed the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to supervise the recall for labelling and audit trailing of all codeine containing cough syrups in the country.
Furthermore, we have banned the issuance of permits for the importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations.
Journalist: On a final note ma, what active ingredient now replaces codeine?
Minister of Health: Dextromethorphan, because it is less addictive. The future of this country lies in the hands of our youths; and if anything goes wrong with them, then we are finished as a country.
This is a war we all must fight! Please, let’s help the federal government by exposing any culprit engaged in the illicit sale of this drug.
‘Hello, my Oga at the top!’ Oliver laughed heartily as he answered a phone call.
‘I want to thank you for your support the other day,’ he continued, ‘your boys did a very good job…oh I heard their so-called ban of codeine, but who cares?’
‘Yes sir, I’m still listening…’Oliver nodded, but his eyes darted around about the underground warehouse as his workers offloaded some consignments.
‘My Oga…I still need your support…thank you sir…let’s continue this discussion later …bye,’ he ended the call with a note of accomplishment.
‘They can only cut off the tree, but not the root,’ he muttered as he went to check on his workers.
The next few hours saw Oliver discussing with some potential customers. Outside the building were large trucks waiting to be loaded with some of the consignments. Some hefty and dare-devil looking bodyguards kept guard over the vicinity.
Occasionally, some of the customers made derogatory remarks over the ban of the sale of codeine.
‘Business must thrive no matter the sanctions,’ Oliver remarked, ‘after working in the government establishment for over fifteen years with nothing to show for it, this business is more or less my retirement benefit and a share of the national…’ he paused to receive another call.
‘What?’ he screamed over the phone, ‘I would be home right away.’
‘Gentlemen, please if you would excuse me. I’ve just received a distress call from my wife; my eight months baby is on admission.’
Handing over to his nephew, Oliver dashed out of the place. Without waiting for his driver to bring his car, he decided to board a motorbike.
Burdened by the news of his baby, Oliver flagged down a motorbike without proper due diligence. Although he wanted to get home within the shortest possible time, yet he felt very uncomfortable at the crazy speed level the bike rider was maintaining.
‘Please minimize your speed!’ Oliver practically pleaded.
‘Se na today you just dey enter Okada for Lagos?’ the motorbike rider charged at him.
As he spoke, Oliver perceived a familiar smell oozing from the mouth of the motorbike rider. He suspected the young man had possibly consumed an excess of the recently banned cough syrup. The more he complained about the speed level, the more it seems the rider was on a suicide mission.
Finally, the rider minimized the speed and began to drive in a maze-like direction, trying to avoid some obstructions which only him could see. Ironically, when now faced with a big ditch at the centre of the road, he deliberately plunged into it amidst the alarm raised by Oliver and some passers-by.
Unfortunately for the duo, a heap of refuse which towered like mount Kilimanjaro which stood along the road, overturned on them!
‘Ah! Ah!!’ Some commuters screamed for help, while some quickly brought out their smartphones to capture the scene.
Although Oliver lost his life in the accident, yet that did not end the sale of the drug. Other merchants who source their orders from porous borders continued to thrive in the business.
Final Remarks: The recent ban of codeine by the federal government, and their measures to regulate the importation, is worthy of applause. Regrettably, porous borders are beginning to emerge. Like little drops of water as they seemed to be, if left unchecked, they could result into a mighty ocean.
The onus therefore lies in the hands of every citizen to report any illicit peddler of this drug.
For updates on codeine ban, click Here