Written by Ere-ebi AGEDAH

In Abuja, local gin rules among drivers, artisans

Despite several campaigns against drunk driving, studies have shown more and more people, especially commercial drivers, operate under the influence of alcohol and other intoxicating substances.






The situation is not any different in the nation’s capital, where commercial drivers are often sighted seeping alcohol at every chance they get. Consumption of local gin is even more popular among drivers because it is affordable.

The FCT like every other commercial city has an influx of artisans who work on their own personal timing and rules, hence giving them the opportunity to determine what and how to behave which includes the habit to drinking local gins before, during and after working hours.

Agbo, local gin, ogogoro are alcoholic drinks, usually distilled locally from fermented raffia palm tree juice and is most popular in Nigeria, where it is known as the country's homebrew. It is a distilled spirit originating from the oil or raffia palm tree. Initially tapped in the form of palm sap, the spirit is consumed not only throughout Nigeria but across the entire West and Central African region.

Ironically these alcoholic beverages bear no proof of registration and certification by the National Food, Drugs, Administration and Control, NAFDAC, thus indicating no form of regulatory agency’s certification of the products to be safe and fit for human consumption.

A common sight to behold in the FCT is a woman with different bottles properly placed in a bowl on her head with different colours all having the ability to cure an illness of condition.

Though most local gin are without NAFDAC registration numbers, these drinks are consumed by members of the public who care less about their certification status, people who cares whether they are NAFDAC-approved or not.

`Agbo’, it is the Yoruba name for herbal medicines, is a concoction prepared from a variety of herbs and; it is one of the most popular herbal preparations taken for various ailments, especially by the native Yoruba people. It has also seen a lot of patronage and acceptance by other tribes too; Agbo can be soaked in water, alcohol or even palm wine before one drinks it.

A typical agbo brew is believed to be a silver bullet than can cure anything. But five brews are: agbo iba for malaria, agbo iba ponto for typhoid fever, agbo jedi jedi for dysentery, agbo ara riro for body aches and agbo atosi touted to cure sexually transmitted infections. There’s even a brew rocking the market as an aphrodisiac.

In the FCT the popular Lagos street is usually a bee hive for easy purchase of any form of local gin,agbo by different individuals which could also include uniformed security personnel. It is believed that the intake of this products keep them fit and gallant to carry out their duties and at the same time heal certain alignment in their bodies.

However, medical experts raise concerns on the after-effects of taking agbo, especially over a long period of time. One of such concerns is that it can damage the kidney and liver also, there are concerns on its preparation which include the handling, dosage requirement for each ailment and even expiration date.

At an event to commemorate the 2019 World Kidney Day, experts raised awareness on the importance of guarding against acts which can lead to kidney disease.

Dr Chinedu Odum, a Nephrologist, said: “In this environment, we talk about herbs and we hear many people say the take Agbo’ or herbs. “They say the herbs clean their system but the truth is that this concoction people are taking, some of them have a bad effect on the kidney. It can damage the kidney. “It is a lot cheaper to prevent kidney damage because once you have kidney damage there is no going back; even those who are rich can’t maintain, afford or keep up with dialysis.

They can’t even maintain or afford to have kidney transplantation, not to talk of the masses who are not generally or financially equipped to take care of the disease. “So, we want to implore people to be aware of kidney disease but more importantly, to be more aware of the factors that increase the illness.”

METRO spoke with Mr, Obinna, a civil servant who stated that he believes that some persons who are in the habit of taking these local drinks and agbo believe that because it is natural roots and herbs it is lot safer than taking chemicals in to their body.

According to Obinna some others take in the local drink to get themselves to eat, to sleep or to even enable them get high.

‘‘Some people just like the feeling that it brings to them when they are under the influence of alcohol it helps them to boast their self-confidence and that is what we call drug induced confidence.  For some others, it speeds up body metabolism enabling them have a large appetite to eat and burn down food intake fast. So when you see some people having a large appetite and consuming a large portion of food they might be under the influence of these local drinks.

“But everything has its side effects once you overdo it, when they decide to stop the intake of these drinks it take a toll on their bodies to adjust back to its originality, you will discover that some of them cannot sleep at night, some cannot eat and obviously without eating and sleeping you are a dead man working. So they return back to the local drinks which in the long run may damage their kidney or liver,” he said.

A medical practitioner, Dr. Wariboko Tonye, noted that there are risks in the consumption of locally brewed gin and it has become imperative to warn the public to desist from the consumption of unregistered locally made spirits, Ogogoro, agboand likes of other unregistered drinks.

According to him, gin contains natural ingredients but meanwhile the dangers posed by consumption of unlabelled local gin are enormous.

“For the ones who have taken too much of this drinks they suffer some of this symptoms including vomiting, abdominal pain, blurred vision, headache, dizziness and loss of consciousness which could lead to subsequent sudden deaths,” he said

He however added that for artisans and security personnel’s must desist from taking these drinks without control especially during working hours.













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