by Kirk Leigh
Yusuf Bashir gleefully counts his ward of cash from the afternoon sales, the total so far was N35, 000. In response to this reporter, he stated in pidgin English, “By the end of today, I fit make N100,000, walahi.” Many people continue to transfer. It’s a good business, and I have to tell you the truth.”
Yusuf makes up to N2 million per month selling sex enhancement drugs to men and women. His small open kiosk in Abuja’s Utako market is stocked with products such as ‘butt’ and breast enlargement creams,’sweeteners’ for women, herbs that promise to prolong sexual intercourse for men, and a variety of tablets, syrups, herbs, and creams that claim to enlarge the male reproductive organ.
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Yusuf claims that he stocks products that can make a woman attract a target male partner including those that can diabolically make a man spend more on a woman.
He also sells creams and powders that can help a man ‘catch the love of his life”.
He called this category of products, ‘Kanya mata’ for women and ‘Kanya maza’ for men.
These kinds of products have been known to be popular in northern Nigeria and are a common sight at roadside kiosks and markets.
The footfall in his kiosk on a hot afternoon confirms the lucrative nature of the business.
His customers include returnees while others are new and found him based on word-of-mouth recommendations.
He claims the recommendations are testaments that his drugs are effective.
The supply value chain
Yusuf gets his supplies from Kano, the ancient city which is about 7 to 8 hours away from Abuja by a fast-moving car but about 18 hours in the case of Yussuf who takes the night bus.
He makes that journey every two weeks to keep up with demand.
While some of the products are locally made, especially in Kano, others are made in the Middle East especially Saudi Arabia and China. The products are imported by a closely knit band of sex enhancement drug businessmen who have built a solid distribution chain that is built to meet surging demand. He states that some of his products are NAFDAC approved some are not, especially some of the locally made ones.
Yusuf explains that his customer demographics are diverse in age and gender but most are women from their mid-twenties to late forties. Men patronize the business as they seek drugs that can give them longer staying power during sex. But for Yusuf, it is the women he cherishes the most.
“It is the babes that carry my market up”, he said, referencing women are his largest customer base. “Them they spend the money without looking back as far as dem get wetin dem they look for”, Yussuf explains.
Pointing to the section where he arranged his women-related inventory, he said that more than half of what he sells is of interest to women while men on the other hand are a hard sell. “Men de too dey price the medicine, but women go pay you sharp sharp. Sometimes dem no want people to see wetin dem de buy”.
NAFDAC’s position on sex-enhancing drugs
Regulator, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is reported to have warned Nigerians to desist from the use of sex enhancement drugs insisting that they could lead to stroke or sudden death.
NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said this last December in her Christmas message to Nigerians. She noted that most of the drugs are not registered with NAFDAC. “They are smuggled into the country.
If they were registered, the producers and peddlers, alike, would not be doing what they are doing in the supermarkets, social media platforms and on the streets,” Adeyeye said.
The NAFDAC boss described as false the claim by producers of the drugs that they have no side effects, stressing that the agency will not relent in going after peddlers and bringing them to book for violating regulations.
The money in sex medicine
Despite NAFDAC’s warnings, many are attracted to the business due to its lucrative nature. Another trader, Bose, who spoke to this writer operates at the Car Park at Federal Secretariat in Abuja. She displays her wares at the car park in the booth of her parked car. She doesn’t need to pay for a shop.
Although she declined to say how much she makes, Bose told this reporter that she is comfortable and not looking to leave the business soon, saying that her inventory turnover period is very short; a matter of days.
There is a dearth of research on how much the industry is worth but Pfizer, makers of viagra netted a whopping $1.6 billion in 2016 selling the product to men who want to prove a point in the bedroom.
Another major market where sex enhancement drugs are sold is on online channels like social media.
Instagram and Facebook serve as haven while Jiji.com and Jumia have become a hypermarket for dealers who would deliver at the click of a button. To underscore interest by Nigerians is the number of followers garnered by Jaruma, a self-claimed apostle of Kayan mata, a local variety of sex enhancers for women. She is followed by an eye-popping 1.2 million people.
There are over twenty long threads on the subject on Nairaland with many prescribing supposed efficacious remedies for men suffering erectile dysfunction.
There are health implications of using sexual enhancers, according to medical practitioners. Barnabas Health Medical Group, which is based in New Jersey, USA itemised the following effects:
Damage to the urethra (tube that lets out urine and semen)
Permanent difficulty maintaining an erection
Permanent problems with urination
Penis “fractures” (a rupture of the tissue in the penis) causing bleeding and requiring surgery
Dangerous drops in blood pressure
Healthline, a popular online medical journal itemises, dizziness, headaches, body aches pain, digestive disorders, vision changes and flushes as some of the side effects of using sexual enhancement medicine.
Interview done, Yussuf hurries to leave the shop to catch his night bus to Kano promising to bring ‘something strong’ for this reporter. But he would be failing his tradition if he leaves without handing a ‘token’ to this reporter, he insists. So, with a mischievous smile, he hands a small stuffed grocery bag to the reporter, saying, “Your madam go de call you Mai Gidda from today”.