Chief Patrick Eholor is always in the news, speaking about the welfare of the Nigerian citizen, irrespective of profession or background.
Eholor who is the President of One Love Foundation, spoke with our correspondent in this interview, raising alarm at the growing number of mentally deranged people on the streets.
In this interview, he advises the Muhammadu Buhari led federal government, as well as Edo State Government to look into the matter and ensure that these men and women are rehabilitated and given proper care.
He also advises them, regarding the physically challenged, as well as the aged.
What do you think about the alarming, growing number of mentally ill people on the streets of Edo State, especially in Benin City?
The problem is peculiar, and this is why you notice that this government, and even before the current government, we have been experiencing this rise.
However, no matter how you look at it, they are citizens. Some of them used to have electoral value. Some of them voted before. Whatever they seem to be going through before they lost it, government also is part of the problem. Some of them lost their jobs and are unemployed, some of them were sick and had no help from anyone, including the government. Some were suffering from depression, some were having family issues- a lot of thing can cause mental illness.
I am not a doctor, but I do know that a lot of factors can cause mental illness. The question you should ask is, what is the Federal Government doing about it? What is the Godwin Obaseki administration back home doing about it?
We have a place, a psychiatrist hospital at Uselu in Edo State, which is being managed by government. I would suggest that they should constitute a committee- just as they have committees to do contracts, to steal money, to do all sorts of things that are anti people, they can also have a committee whose work will be to mop up these people from the streets and take them to the psychiatric hospital for treatments. They can get buses and use the buses for this purpose.
They will then try and rehabilitate them back to the society if they can, but if they cannot, they should at least have some decency before they go to the great beyond.
I am very worried about it. Every street you go to now in Benin, you see lunatics. If Godwin Obaseki is not helping the normal people, at least let him help the abnormal people in our society. Besides that, one will wonder the kind of plan this administration or even the Federal Government have for people who have disability. People with disabilities are supposed to be given preferential treatment anywhere, whether they are in the bus, hospital, market place, in aeroplanes, preference should be given to them.
Disability can come in any form. Then there is the issue of the aged and the elderly. These are people who have worked and retired.
Yes, in other climes when somebody gets to a certain age, the person begins to get special care from the sate, local or federal governments. But here, it seems to be taken for granted that when one begins to get old, the family should take care of him or her. So, a lot of them end up never getting the kind of care he or she deserves. So you see and old man or woman working on the streets selling pure water, hand gloves,and trying to make ends meet. Don’t you think our government should emulate other governments outside Nigeria where our leaders usually travel to?
Our governments unfortunately don’t copy what’s good. They manufacture what is bad. Our federal and state governments are all merchants of misery. Ordinarily when you cross the 60 year threshold, you become someone within the retirement age. You become a first class citizen, government takes care of you. Whether you are poor, whether you are rich, whether you have worked before, they have plans for you.
But the reason why it’s impossible for government here to do something about them is due to their taxation system. Abroad, when you start working from the age of 18, you start paying into pensions plan. It is what you saw that you are going to go into retirement with. For example if I was earning N100,000 every month and is now contributing ten thousand from it every month, I would have saved for 42years. At 60, they will see what I have saved, and they will add to it and use it to take care of me, because I have contributed to the economy. They also have for the unemployed, the unemployment benefits where the government also takes care of those who are unemployed.
That’s why it baffles me when people say that Godwin Obaseki is a technocrat. I have not seen anything of a technocrat in him. One would have assumed that because he has been able to manage some people’s funds, some of them he lost, some he may have succeeded, in some the market bled, one would have thought that with his exposure, the things I am mentioning to you now, he would have been able to do it, so that when people are earning their salaries, they start contributing to the pensions scheme. When people are also not working, they should also have what gets to the unemployed, in case you lost your job, whether in the private or the public sector. You would have contributed money to that scheme, and so, should be getting money from them before you get another job.
Even if you are going to school, you will also be getting something. But unfortunately, those who are charge in this country are merchants of misery. They don’t care about their citizens. They think that citizens don’t have rights. They think that citizens don’t deserve anything good. Look at recently, when a guy who claimed he was a deputy speaker of the house, someone raised a point about those who are in the diaspora.
This man, ignorant as he is said that the people are not in Nigeria, so their votes don’t count. He is not aware that these same people bring in 20 to 25 billion to this country every year. It is the second largest source of fund after the oil that is there.
It is the quality of leaders that we have that’s the problem. The other decent ones say politics is dirty and don’t want to play it. But if you don’t play politics, what you do is that you allow thugs to rule over you, and that’s why we suffer. The ones that are handpicked want a continuation of what they are doing because they have no idea and are completely without clue what it means to contribute to leadership. This is country where 95 percent of the senators condemned the Service chiefs for terrible service, but also went ahead to vote for them to be ambassadors. Is that not preposterous?
So people deserve the government they get, whether they are rigging, or stealing, we deserve it. Because if they had rigged and we fought them, or if they had stolen as we fought, if they have bloated salaries as it is now and we condemn it, then it would have been different.
There is a massive army of youths that will rise up again, same thing that happened when end SARS happened. I foresee it happening again. This is a country with a president that never addresses its citizens. This is a country where we have speculations that we might have one Jibrin, we don’t know. In the last two years,how many people have seen our president in a podium, talking to Nigerians?
In the last few years, how many people have seen Gov Obaseki call the press in Edo State, so that there will be an interactive session? How many times has the president of this country called for a town hall meeting? How many times have any of the governors in this country called for a town hall meeting? Or the senators or the House of Reps members?
How many times have the commissioners or House of Assembly members gone to ask what does my people need? How many times have local government chairmen called for a town hall meeting? All of them have failed abysmally, and no apology.
In this issue of rehabilitating the mentally deranged, don’t you think it is necessary for people like you to take up the task?
It’s difficult because mental patients cannot be predicted. That’s why they have a special people who have been trained to look after them, and to know how to care for the, without chaining them or beating them like animals. There are also mentally deranged people in the western world, but they are approached cautiously. They are given medications to reduce that tension on them that makes them abnormal. So I do not recommend anyone who is doing what I am doing or any human rights activist to make it a role to rescue lunatics because they will be putting their lives at risk.
But if you train someone to do it, like you train a soldier, or police officer, as a professional, they should be professional enough to do it. Government should invest money on it so that they can take it very seriously.
Because some of these people can get well again and contribute meaningfully to the development of our country.