The mkpuru mmiri scourge in the South-East

ONE of the many lucid indications that Nigeria is ebbing dangerously into a dysfunctional society is the pervasive use of illicit drugs by many of its young people. There is hardly any geopolitical zone in the country where the use of one type of  illicit drug or another is not a veritable issue of concern. It is a grave development that has the potential to imperil the country’s future. Currently, many communities in the South-East are reportedly grappling with the pernicious effects of the consumption of an illicit drug called mkpuru mmiri in the local parlance, which in literal translation in Igbo language means ‘seeds of water’.  The pharmaceutical name of the illicit drug is methamphetamine and its use has been linked to various aberrant, anti-social and criminal behaviours by some young people in the zone. Cases of young boys raping grandmothers are on the rise, an indication that life has really broken down and moral values have become warped and twisted  in that part of the country.

The drug is also believed to be a booster to the unknown gunmen whose level of atrocities  in the South-East have become quite concerning locally and internationally. In other words, there seems to be a correlation between the use of  illicit drugs and  the spate of youth restiveness in the zone. Also, quite an intolerable number of young people in some Igbo communities are said to be having mental issues which tend to impair the quality of their decisions, judgments and actions because of their consumption of the drug. Thus, young people hitherto reputed for being diligent and meticulous at weighing various options before making decisions now seem to have become junkies, largely unconscious of their environment and  lacking the mental capacity to evaluate the likely consequences of their decisions and actions. They are now uncharacteristically prone to violence and susceptible to taking precipitate actions because of paranoia and the hallucinatory effects of  the use of narcotics, notably mkpuru mmiri.

Worse still, this prohibited drug seems to be  readily available, very ‘potent’ and somewhat cheaper than some other hard drugs in its class. And that perhaps accounts for its popularity among young people in the zone. Again, there are indications that many of the laboratories that  produce the dangerous drug are located in the South-East and they are  reportedly owned by some members of Mexican drug cartels which came to set up the laboratories in the country in 2016. It should, therefore, not be surprising that the deleterious effects of drug use and abuse are palpable in the zone.

In trade and commerce, the people of the South-East are arguably the most proficient and enterprising segment of the Nigerian society. It is rather sad that many of the young people in that part of the country have now embraced the destructive culture of illicit drug consumption that promises to dampen their otherwise impressive productivity and whittle down their economic importance if corrective actions are not taken swiftly to contain the  menace. And that will be in addition to the consequences on the society of the ongoing wanton destruction of life and property in that part of Nigeria being orchestrated by misguided youths, most probably under the influence of  narcotics. Unfortunately, while it is pretty easy to start the  use of illicit drugs and become addicted,  combating the threat of drug addiction is not a piece of cake, especially for a narcotic like mkpuru mmiri that can be accessed by users with relative ease. Thus, pragmatic solutions, far beyond mere rhetoric, outcries, lamentations and press releases will be required to rein in the scourge of mkpuru mmiri in the South-East.

There should be an all-of-society approach that will bring on board all stakeholders, including the family, religious, traditional and  community leaders, and officials  of  the subnational governments  to chart a new course out of the extant quagmire. We note the outcry by leaders of different hues to check the scourge of mkpuru mmiri but they will need to up their ante as the menace has continued to burgeon despite their efforts to curtail it. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is also called upon to increase the tempo of its law enforcement activities in the South-East with a special focus on this narcotic. It must locate and destroy all the laboratories producing the drug, cut the supply chain, and make the felons behind its production and trafficking to face the wrath of the law.

Just as we recommend concerted actions by the relevant stakeholders to combat the use of illicit drugs, we also recommend the same for tackling socioeconomic issues  such as youth unemployment which, to a large extent, birthed the consumption of narcotics among the youth to begin with. For many youths, the consumption of hard drugs, including mkpuru mmiri,  is their own way of escaping from the frustration and hopelessness staring them in the face within the socioeconomic environment.  For instance, a crop of gainfully employed young people and those who can see positive indications that they would be ultimately employed are most unlikely to indulge in illicit drug use. What obtains now is a quintessential case of an idle mind becoming the devil’s workshop. And of course, it is axiomatic that poor people who strongly believe that they have nothing to lose now or  in the future would not mind  to taking precipitate actions.


Truth be told, the current efforts aimed at stopping the use of mkpuru mmiri can only provide transient respite from the consequences of hard drugs use in the South-East.  An enduring panacea to the scourge of illicit drugs in the zone and elsewhere in the country will depend largely on how effectively all tiers of  government work in concert with other stakeholders to address the socioeconomic factors that made the consumption of  narcotics attractive to the youth in the first place. No amount of official application of force to control the use of illicit drugs among  the youth will be efficacious as long as socioeconomic circumstances within the domestic economy continue to force the majority of them to become or remain non-economic actors.

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