Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central - PRP) has cautioned Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, against advocating for the legalisation of marijuana in Nigeria.
Marijuana, also known as Indian hemp or cannabis, is a banned substance in the country but that didn't stop Akeredolu from travelling to Thailand with the the head of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Muhammad Abdallah, for a programme on medicinal cannabis extract development.
Taking to his Twitter account (@RotimiAkeredolu) on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 to shed more light on the trip, the governor said Nigeria would be shortchanging itself by not tapping into the economic value of marijuana.
He said growing the plant, under the supervision of the NDLEA, will create thousands of jobs for Nigerians if seriously considered by the Federal government.
He said, "We all know that Ondo State is the hot bed of cannabis cultivation in Nigeria. We know how to grow it and it thrives well in the Sunshine State. With an estimated value of $145 Billion in 2025, we would be shortchanging ourselves if we failed to tap into the Legal Marijuana Market.
"Our focus now is Medical Marijuana cultivation in controlled plantations under the full supervision of the @ndlea_nigeria. I strongly implore the FG to take this seriously as it is a thriving industry that will create 1000's of Jobs for our youth & spur Economic Diversification."
Despite the widespread appeal of Akeredolu's position on social media, Senator Sani took to his own Twitter account (@ShehuSani) on Wednesday, May 15 to rebuke the governor.
"My brother Akeredolu, Lagos partnered with Kebbi for rice, please partner with Niger for beans, Kaduna for ginger or partner with Benue for yam. Please leave this Indian Hemp matter for now, abeg," he posted.
The lawmaker's comment didn't go down well with a lot of people who responded to it, including Omoyele Sowore, a former presidential candidate, who expressed his disappointment.
Sowore said, "I hate to stand between two Nigerian politicians engaging asinine argument but I am disappointed in you for this tweet.
"Have you ever thought of it that when this idea finally gains legal ground your Afro hair could benefit from a locally produced line of cannabis hair products?"
During his campaign for the 2019 presidential election, Sowore had vowed to legalise marijuana so that it can be exported to other countries and contribute to Nigeria's economic fortunes. His comment did not get widespread appeal despite the fact that the illegal substance is widely smoked in the country.
Senator Sani refused to be deterred by Sowore's reply and offered the possibility of debating in the future.
"My friend @YeleSowore, my hair doesn't need that marijuana to glow. I wish you, Governor Akeredolu and Majek all the best; if you succeed, then you are right. When we meet we shall debate it," he posted.
If a bill seeking to legalise marijuana does make it to the National Assembly for consideration, Senator Sani will likely not be present at the upper legislative chamber as he lost a re-election bid in February.
He has refused to accept his loss, alleging that he was robbed, and has contested the result at an election tribunal.