BY FRANCIS OKOYE
Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has won the Politics magazine pioneer initiative award, for his actions and leadership role as it concerns curing people with mental illness in the country, especially in Kano State.
In a country like Nigeria, with thousands of churches and mosques and traditional Religion practitioners, coupled with their leaders, people with mental illness are often left on their own to roam the streets naked, eat food from refuse bins and drink water from the gutters, as if they are not part of our ‘neighbours’ which all religions preach that we should ‘love’.
These in leadership positions who can and should do something about this issue, often turn the other way and completely overlook people with mental illness in their developmental plans, as if they are not citizen’s of Nigeria and have no rights.
Late last year, Kano state became an exemplary light in the midst of darkness, when it removed 400 people with mental illness from the streets across 44 LGA’s of Kano state, through the Kano State Rehabilitation Board.
It cost the government of Kano, N7,070,000.00 to cater for feeding, medication and the up keep of the 400 people with mental illness removed from the streets of Kano, although the cost may increase from time to time, but this amount about 7m is not up to the amount spent by one Governor to travel for a weekend in Abuja or USA, yet they cannot find time to care for those who need it most, or spend money in this direction. It is this kind of programme that Kano State has initiated which other states can imitate and even elaborate on. People with mental illness can be treated, they can become normal again and live productive lives and go back to the life they have been living before they had the illness, all they will need is to be on medication.
We plead with the Kano State government not to stop its effort at rehabilitating them, but to also place them on allowance of about N20,000 monthly, so that they can start life again, be able to use the money to buy drugs needed to maintain their health and other expenses. The government should also employ school leavers and graduates among them in the state civil service automatically, to make the project a success.
The collaboration of the psychiatric hospitals in the state in their care is also essential as well as the hiring of psychologist to counsel them one on one from time to time, to prepare them to handle their affairs now that most of them are becoming sane, and to trace the root cause of what they have suffered so as not to suffer it again or relapse.
The award will be presented to the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso at a later date.
BY FRANCIS OKOYE