Ibidapo-Obe, Majek Fashek, others urge mental test for politicians
FORMER Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe and renowned reggae singer, Majek Fashek, as well as psychiatrists under the aegis of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APIN) yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to pay proper attention to mental health issues and challenges.
The mental health stakeholders, who made the call yesterday in Lagos during the annual conference and general meeting of APIN, also canvassed mental test for politicians.
The theme of the conference, attended by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals across the federation was: “Mental Health as a Driver of Positive Change”.
Guest speaker, Ibidapo-Obe, now the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo (FUNAI) in Ebonyi State, urged the National Assembly to make mental health test compulsory for politicians in general and especially people seeking service in public office.
The former President of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) stated that such test would made it clear of those who are capable of handling public office, even as he stated that such action would help to reduce corruption among public office holders, adding that corruption is a symptom of mental disorder.
Majek Fashek, who spoke as mental health advocate at the event, stated that Nigeria needs to do a lot to curb mental health illness, even as he stated that the rights of persons with mental disorder should be respected to help them heal faster.
The crooner of Send Down The Rain that came to the podium with his psychiatrist, Dr. Vincent Udenze, described people living with mental illness as geniuses whose talents should never be neglected.
Majek Fashek, who said he had been to rehab in the U.S for drug addition, stated that at a point in time, he knew that he needed help to recover from such challenge, adding that a lot of renowned artistes in the U.S had been to rehab homes.
The reggae artiste described as absurd the practice of allowing those with mental challenge to roam about in the streets without care, even as he called on Nigerian government to take a cue from the U.S where mental ill people are treated free.
APIN President, Prof Joseph Adeyemi, stated that the role of government in promoting mental health cannot be over-emphasised, as “government policies, legislations, priorities, and practices determine the quality of life of citizens.”
Adeyemi explained, “Whether positive or negative, the nature of governance will have consequences for the emotional well-being of the populace based on their vulnerabilities and predispositions.”
Acting Medical Director of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Richard Adebayo, called on the National Assembly to pass the Mental Health Bill being pushed by mental health professionals, adding that the bill would help to revamp the practice of the profession, which, he said, still relies on colonial laws for guidance in Nigeria.