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Cannabis as an export commodity



Undoubtedly, it has been a long drawn-out war against cannabis since its proscription. Regardless of the strict laws, the global cannabis trade has remarkably continued to thrive, fuelled essentially by both active supply and demand, which have effectively guaranteed a huge inflow of cash that has proven to be the underlining incentive.

Instructively, a strong stigmatisation campaign incentivised its prohibition in America which birthed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Before then, it was unregulated and widely used for recreational and medical purposes with mixed tales of efficacy.
However, Nigeria supported its war with laws like the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1935 and Indian Hemp Act 1966, which bans the planting, harvesting and consumption of cannabis before the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Act of 1989. This is, in addition, to being a signatory to the single convention of narcotic drugs 1961 and the UN convention on psychotropic substances of 1988.

Essentially, the pattern of the war has been within the framework of the extant laws, which more often than not, involves the seizure of the substance, setting alight of large swathes of farmlands and the seized consignments, and arrest/prosecution of barons and couriers. Notwithstanding the whole enchilada, it hasn’t deterred the large presence of ever-ingenious and bold players in the ecosystem.
Cannabis has a long medical history and a resurgence is only just being recorded with validated efficacy. It was reported that cannabis has shown huge therapeutic value for about 1.2 billion people suffering from various medical conditions. Its use is effective in acute pain management, suppressing arthritis and other anxiety. Intriguingly, I happened on a documentary not long ago which proved revelatory on the impact of cannabis in dealing with autism with users talking impressively on the outcome.

The delisting of cannabis from the group of dangerous drugs, which included heroin and synthetic opioids, by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs had changed the narrative on cannabis considerably with many countries racing towards instituting laws in accommodating the ‘green gold’ and Africa is intriguingly not left out in the rush. Lesotho is the first African country to do so for medical and scientific purposes with the requisite license coming at a steep cost.

The legalisation of the psychotropic substance has made a transition from the question of morality to commerce/business, though the staggering statistics of victims of the use of cannabis, the impact on society (notably youth) and its place as a part of the paraphernalia of crimes and conduit into the addiction to other hard drugs make the war a serious undertaking. This forms the argument against legalisation, which can hardly be faulted—the base of junkies is bound to ramp up.

However, the revelation on cannabis and the global hurry to get a slice of the opportunity it presents is huge enough to recalibrate our thinking and impression. Prohibition Partners, a research consulting firm in a 2019 report, estimated that Africa’s cannabis business could earn as much as $7.1bn annually by 2023.

No doubt, this is an assurance that a vista of opportunities will proceed from a regulated cannabis industry—job and wealth creation, economic diversification and improved foreign exchange earnings. Like cannabis, the proscription of alcohol in America had social and health issues as the driving force. Also, singularly important was the need for more tax revenue especially during the great depression when legalising alcohol sales was seen as a veritable source. In fact, Franklin Roosevelt promised to lift the alcohol ban which he fulfilled.

The approach to leveraging the opportunity should be tailored toward medical purposes, which will encourage the establishing of industries in the processing and exports of cannabis-based products or raw materials underpinned by a strict regulatory and legal framework. So, the country has no shortage of entrepreneurs inclined in taking the plunge. Huge revenue would be racked up from the issuance of licenses and taxes from the industry.
This will in no way obviate the place of the NDLEA instead it will be streamlined to reflect the new reality and further strengthen its arms in playing supervisory, monitoring and regulatory role better in the industry. Again, the entire argument for cannabis remains primarily for its medical and scientific uses.

As earlier adverted, many African countries have jumped on the bandwagon with many also tying up loose ends preparatory to taking a shot at the business angle while Nigeria remains non-committal despite the loud calls for a change of attitude toward cannabis
It is still a budding industry which may have been informed the indifference by authorities. At any rate, lively debates need to be sustained for rich knowledge on the subject in actuating a rethink. With the abundant land, experienced farmers and decent growing conditions Nigeria can be on its way to becoming a major player with rich economic harvest.

• Abachi Ungbo writes via [email protected]


Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct




The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report




Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology




Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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