- By NWOKOCHA JOEL
Culture largely refers to the symbolic systems characteristically prevalent in a certain society at a given time and youth culture is one that has been known to exist from time immemorial. People embedded in cultural processes demonstrate remarkable powers of creation and transformation, this ability to hyper-adapt is often referred to as cultural dynamics. This report pays attention a to contemporary shift in cultural dynamics among Nigerian youths, this time to; a notable increase in demand and consumption of mind altering substances as well as an unharnessed cyber expertise lying within this group.
Gone are the days when no one could relate with the term Drug Abuse. Today, a growing number of Nigerian youths and even adults are slaves to narcotic substance. Indian hemp albeit illegal is perceived by many to be stale. In a crass frenzy for higher Highs they have sort nifty means graduating from nonconventional drugs —such as volatile solvents that produce psychoactive vapor which when inhaled goes straight from the nose to the brain causing instant intoxication (e.g. gasoline, correction fluid, rubber solution, nail polish removal etc.)—to more ingenious means with complex mixtures, cocktails, and experimentations such as bio generic gasses and of course pharmaceutical products (e.g. tramadol, rohypnol etc.). Cough syrup containing Codeine mixed with soft drinks gradually taking over alcohol are common features in youth parties.
In January 2017 alone, Twitter user @KoloKennethK tweeted his account of a major drug bust involving billions of naira worth of Tramadol at Lagos’ Apapa Port.
“39m tablets of Tramadol, worth N3bn with above prescription quantity per tablet seized at Apapa.”, the tweet read.
This is just one of the few encounters where the importation of these harmful drugs were intercepted. The Nigerian drug and law enforcement agencies are obviously putting in efforts to curb influx of these substances. It is evident however, that more is yet to be achieved as these drugs are still easily obtainable on the streets. There exists strong evidence that suggest a high likelihood of today’s youth culture transcending into adulthood so that it becomes a lifestyle, this is a horror that would play out if we fail to nip this In the bud.
Although many attribute this craving for psychedelics to youthful exorbitance, some are of the opinion that folks resort to these as a means of escaping the sad reality of their existence, or as a momentary relieve from academic and economic hardship. Whatever the case, we have got to find an end to this slippery slope. Parents need to pay more attention to the well beings of their wards and the government not only needs to reinforce drug laws and agencies but should also place strict surveillance on the importation and administration of these drugs. Most importantly, the government should provide adequate disincentives for consumption such as, economics policies that would seek to include these growing class.
A thriving subculture amidst the aforementioned, is the intelligentsia of cyber fraud stars locally revered to as Yahoo or Gee Boys. Famous for shutting down clubs and driving overpriced cars, this group of young men (predominantly) are constantly hounded by the Nigeria Police Force. Word has it that they share their spoils with the NPF in exchange for freedom in some cases. Be that as it may, our interest lies in the unharnessed potentials that these group of youths command.
Governmental authorities in developed countries world over are increasingly harnessing the potentials of cyber security or the lack there of —to foster national interests. North Korea for example, in a bid to subvert international sanctions and earn foreign currency are (allegedly) prompting hackers to exploit Bitcoin, this has resulted in Kim Jong-un ploughing money into his nuclear and ballistic missile programs despite crippling economic sanctions which have blocked the export of the North’s biggest cash sources. If we agree that isn’t the most ideal of instances, let’s consider others, China is said to have a “hacker army” the size of 50,000 to 100,000 individuals, and of course the US known to have the largest “Cyber Army” on the planet.
It is true we probably don’t have cyber threats as imminent as those of the US, North Korea or China. However, in a bid to make the best of these unharnessed but skilled workforce The Nigerian Government—in its own way— can initiate programs to foster this. Fitting examples include, Bug Bounty programs or “Hack the Pentagon” programs initiated in the US; where hackers are invited to test the systems (of the US army and Corporate Companies alike) for vulnerabilities. In the end, these hackers are rewarded for their discoveries, and top cyber security talents are recruited.
In the status Quo, the closest we have to cyber-policing—aside the overly-enthusiastic SARS—is a woke EFCC twitter handle. This is regrettable, as citizens repeatedly fall victim to phishing sites and e-mails with the government ignoring the existence to this threat.
Some believe this Youth Culture is at best temporary and bound by time and age. Well, when carefully examined this might be true. What that fails to account for however, is the consequence of this supposed temporary phase and its irrevocable outcome on the generation to come. If would-be parents/leaders are todays Science Students* — increasingly creative in the search for new and damaging narcotic substances— and Yahoo Boys, we stand to lose tomorrow before it is born.
*Science Students is a term used by Nigerian Pop Star Olamide on a recent track where he expressed concern at the gravity at which young people in the pursuit of new levels of ‘highness’ are seeking out recreational characteristics of dangerous substances.