“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is a drug dealer. He talks to us about his process for baking edibles, how he almost lost a knee cap, and his plans to set up a cartel if his japa plans fail.
Editor’s note: The views expressed are those of the subject and in no way represent the views of Zikoko.
Even though I spent the whole night getting high, I’m up early. I work as a baker-drug dealer, and I start my day on the “legal” side of my business — baking edibles. I sell almost everything that gets people high: brownie cookies, cupcakes, gummy bears, puff puff. The beauty is that I can publicly advertise these products as “happy brownies” or call them by another name because it’s an “if you know, you know” business. It’s through this front-facing part that customers looking to buy loud, LSD, molly — I draw the line at crystal meth and heroin because I can’t deal with crackheads — and shrooms contact me. I take pride in my baking skills, and I’m always tweaking and challenging my recipes.
Today, I’m making cannabutter. I heat up my flowers for 30 minutes to “wake” the weed up, then I crush it into fine particles. The next step is to melt the butter. I mix the fine particles with the melted butter under low heat for another 30 minutes until it changes colour. I’m confident that the liquid butter has absorbed all of the weed, so I strain it in a sieve. Once it cools, food is ready to be served. My plan is to use one portion of the butter to bake and to sell the other part. I take a quick glance at my phone and realise that I’ve gotten orders for cannabutter already. I thought I’d get a chance to lie down, but there’s work to be done. I’m going to have a quick shower, make plans for delivery and label my butter “prescription” keep out of reach of children. Eat with bread or fry with eggs.
I once tried to grow my own batch of weed but it wasn’t cost-effective. The quality and potency of made in Nigeria weed significantly differ from the imported stuff — this country doesn’t support growth in any form. I have different plugs depending on what drug I’m looking for. I have one plug linked to a smuggler and another plug that’s the plug of all plugs. Because of the tendency for violence in this business, and the fact that I’m always looking over my shoulder, my plugs are people I’ve known for a while. One is a childhood friend while the other is someone I’ve also known for a fairly long time. My business model is simple: I collect an advance of drugs, sell and remit an agreed-upon sum at a due date. I also try to distance myself as much as possible from the product, and my business is mostly cash-based. There’s also a covert distribution system in place that I can’t reveal.
I spent today thinking about how you can’t be too careful in this business because if trouble comes, people will cut off your head. I don’t blame anyone for snitching — they’re not Jesus so they can’t die for me. Worrying doesn’t help anything, that’s why I’m going to distract myself by watching a movie. All I can really control is my being careful and to constantly remind the people I work with to be careful.
I’ve gotten into all kinds of trouble from selling drugs. Police trouble. Customer trouble. And failing to meet my repayment schedule, which almost led to me losing a knee cap. It all started when I collected a batch of molly and agreed to deliver the profit in a week. Things were going smoothly until my village people looked into my matter. A few days before repayment was due, I got into an accident while making a large delivery. And I lost almost half of my stock. I panicked and went underground. When my supplier didn’t see his money, he came to my house to look for me. It was interesting because he brought a gun and was prepared to bear the loss and leave a bullet in my knee. I quickly took responsibility and explained what had happened. Let’s just say that I’m glad that I still have two functional knees.
Thankfully, all of that is in the past now.
I’ve had a long day of fulfilling customer orders, and I’m looking forward to this evening. My girlfriend is coming over, and we’re going to chill and relax. Her support is one of the things that keeps me going. Not a lot of people would openly associate with a drug dealer but she’s different. In fact, one of the reasons she’s dating me is because I’m a bad boy. I guess we’re both addicted to the thrill of life.
I got fucked up last night, and I wake up late today. The first thing I do is check my phone, and I see a message from one of my friends whining me about how cool my job is. I guess it’s easy to glamorise what I do because of how pop culture has white-washed drug dealing. This business is profitable enough that I can pay my school fees in millions per semester, and you can make fortunes in a year of dealing drugs because you have a repeat customer base addicted to your product. But the truth remains that it’s still a very dangerous job. I started dealing drugs because I couldn’t afford to pay school fees after transferring schools. Every day I make a sale, I keep asking myself: what if someone snitches and I get locked up forever? That’s my education down the drain. But what if I somehow see my education through? That means I’ll be set for life. These thoughts are why I’m constantly risking the odds.
The most difficult part for me as a drug user is the discipline to not get high on my own supply, and the grit to constantly keep my eye on the target. I pay for my drugs in full without any discount. I give myself achievement points to reach before I allow myself to buy drugs. And I never remove money without being accountable.
Policemen are your friend as long you settle them. I’ve had instances where policemen have stopped me, extorted me and tried to befriend me. Someone once gave me his number to call him anytime I got into trouble along a particular route. Another time, while being searched on suspicion of dealing drugs, a police officer was telling me he knew a plug for where to buy loud at wholesale price. It’s crazy thinking about the fact that these are the people meant to protect us. I can’t help but think that outside of drug dealers, policemen are liaising with other criminals. I’m fairly certain that kidnappers and ritualists are having a field day with the system.
It’s easy to judge me and say I’m ruining my life, but the system failed me. In my old university, I was told that the entry-level for graduates studying my course was ₦20,000. That’s not even enough to cover half of the cost of the professional exams I had to write. In a society where people only respect your pocket, I had to fall in line and jazz up. In a year of dealing, I’ve gone from being scorned at home to being respected. I’m now the person who takes care of utilities and stocks the house without asking anyone for nada.
The only reason I’m selling drugs is that I’m still in Nigeria. I’m currently working my way through school to become a full stack developer. The next step is to find my way out of this hell hole. 2022 must not meet me here. If, for some useless reason, I’ve still not escaped, I’m just going to set up my own cartel.
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