Sequel to the agitations of Nigerians about the fitness of presidential candidates, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called for psychiatric evaluation of both presidential and governorship candidates before Nigerians decide next year at the polls.
Naija News reports that the association, which also advocated for other vital tests to be conducted on candidates, said it is necessary for Nigerians to know the health status of those they want to vote for at the general election.
According to the NMA President, Dr Uche Ojinmah, other simple tests are required to ascertain their state of health and fitness to run the office.
He questioned why people in the public service when vying for positions like Chief Medical Director or Medical Director are subjected to a series of tests and why people contesting for executive and legislative positions don’t run similar tests.
Ojinmah told Punch that “Simple medical check-ups such as chest X-ray, cardiac echocardiography, abdominal ultrasound scan, urinalysis, kidney function test, liver function test, blood pressure and blood glucose assessment will give one a comprehensive view of the state of the body system.
“Sadly, people applying for top-level jobs like Chief Medical Director or Medical Director in our public service are made to undergo these tests while those contesting for executive and legislative posts don’t.
“We also want them to undergo psychiatric evaluation. These shall exhaustively evaluate the people vying for the ultimate job in Nigeria.”
He advanced that the NMA could be given the responsibility to execute such test, adding that an independent panel can be set up to take charge of such a task.
The NMA boss submitted that “The NMA could be given the responsibility of choosing an independent panel of people who are well known in those different fields to carry out the tests because the problem is that if you allow a government agency like the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria or others, the government in power can influence it.
“So, we will prefer a professional body to be given the responsibility of setting up a panel of renowned specialists in the necessary areas to carry out a clear survey and present the report to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
Ojinmah, who opined that the results of such tests should be made public, remarked that “If a madman is about to be president, we should be told, that is just the truth. We see a lot of things going on with those in power, you will realise that there is an imbalance. So, I think the results should be made public, we have a right to know.
“When they are going to vie for a Medical Director or Chief Medical Director of hospitals, they do most of these tests and those who will take the decision of choosing will see the results. So, people are going to be President and they don’t think that we should see their results? We are the ones to make that decision, we should see their results.”
He added that “It is our position that if you have a mental problem or a neurological problem or you have any organ damage that may not be treatable, or you are psychiatrically imbalanced, you should not be allowed to lead, you should be stopped. Will you make a madman your traditional ruler? You will not.”
However, Naija News gathered that Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Obasi Igwe, who supported NMA’s proposal said “To take up an appointment in the university, army, companies, etc, you need a medical certificate of fitness, and these are essentially policy implementation appointments.
“If those implementing policy from below are expected to be medically fit, why should those making the policy be exempted from health fitness in Nigeria when in all other serious democracies medical certifications are constitutionally mandatory?
“Far from harming the legitimate interests of political officials, health certification actually protects them. For the people would now know that whatever health challenges befall the official is as a consequence of his service to the nation and not a pre-existing condition and as such becomes obligatory on the populace to offer care.”