Tanioluwa, (real name withheld) is less than five feet tall with an almost childlike face and mien. Yet you could see it in the depth of her brown eyes, she had seen the rigours of life… and survived it.
She shook a bit as she took the microphone, “I did not know that I will be nervous.” She clutched the microphone, standing in the hall at Community Senior College, Wasimi, Maryland, Lagos - to speak on Drug abuse. She seemed so young....
But when she opened her mouth, she recounted a sordid past that gripped us to our bones. She was a 20 year old young woman whose young life had been plagued by drugs, alcohol and more. She had become a notorious user at a tender age and she explained that there was no drug she hadn’t used - including the cough syrups that have become a depraved must-have.
Her need to ‘belong’ with friends had pushed her to limits unexpected. And by the time she travelled to Abuja, she was beyond saving. She said that she could stab anyone; had fear for no one and she been to the police station numerous times to write statements to attest to the fact that if people died because of her violent statements she would be held responsible for the death.
At seventeen she had boyfriends of thirty to fifty years. She deteriorated, “I didn’t eat, bathe or sleep.” She spoke of one day realizing that she had to stop and that was the beginning for her…
She shook for a few minutes towards the end of her talk. Regret was very apparent in her voice. The students of Community Senor College, Wasimi, Maryland, Lagos (where MTN Nigeria had brought the young girl to explain her experience with drugs) were engrossed in the ups and downs of her story. She warned them strongly not to try any form of harmful substance. That that was going to be the end of them.
A few people were too stunned to join in the rousing applause that ended her talk. You could see their questions, “She’s so young, can this be true?”