The presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Alhaji Musa Kwankwaso and the Vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Kashim Shettima have given undertaking that they would support the formulation of appropriate policy and legal framework to address mental health challenges facing Nigerians.
Speaking at a conference on mental health organised by Intersect Consortium in Abuja yesterday, the politicians assured that if they win the 2023 presidential election, their administration would strive to develop and implement programmes that would promote good health conditions of Nigerians.
Shettima who described Kwankwaso as a competent leader, but second only to the APC presidential candidate, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said he was aware what Nigerians are currently going through with regard to the menace of kidnapping, banditry and workplace challenges.
He said: “I want to assure you that once we get into office, we will strive to put in place a multifaceted programme that will take into cognisance the legal and policy framework that will address the issues of mental health in the country.”
Speaking on the subject matter for discussion at the event, Shettima said mental health has been an issue that was neglected and not given the required policy attention.
While recounting his experience during his stewardship as the governor of Borno state, Shettima said the state, “not only harvested destruction and bloodshed but we were confronted by drug epidemic and further compounded by sufferings of hundreds of thousands of citizens who were displaced by the conflict, some forced to live dehumanised conditions, men women and children with no means of livelihood.”
Shettima however said the state worked with NGOs and made genuine efforts to address the mental health issues of the people.
He added that with the current challenges facing Nigerians regarding the menace of kidnapping, rural banditry, relationship issues, workplace challenges, most Nigerians are equally confronted with mental health challenges.
He commended the organisers of the event, Intersect Consortium for having the courage to bring this issue up for discussion
On his part, the NNPP presidential candidate said he was able tackle frontally issues of drug abuse and mental health challenges and reduce them to a nearest minimum during his tenure as governor of Kano state.
Kwankwaso promised to replicate and even do more to address mental health challenges on a national scale if elected as president next year.
He also urged the NGOs and private sector stakeholders to join hands with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ((NDLEA) to stamp out the use of illicit drug in our society.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of Intersect Consortium, Dr. Vincent Udenze, decried the existing legal framework on mental health in country which he said had become outdated and had outlived its usefulness.
He said there was need for the federal government to give the issue the urgent attention it deserved by enacting a new law to ensure that Nigerians undergoing mental health challenges get necessary legal backing to secure proper treatment and welfare they needed.
He added that main objective of the conference was to create awareness and possibly get the attention of relevant authorities to do something about mental health and welfare of the affected persons in the country.
The Wife of the Kaduna state governor, and Chairperson of Northern Governors’ Wives Forum, Mrs. Hadiza E-Rufai spoke of the efforts they were making to provide facilities for the rehabilitation of drug abuse victims in their states.
She said the forum has achieved a lot in the area of reducing drug use among the youths.