With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
Members of the public plying Ajase-Ipo road, Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, were shocked to discover the lifeless body of a madman macheted and dumped on the street by suspected ritualist, last Friday. This ugly development throws up three issues. One, the poor social welfare aspect of life in the state, two, the little regard for environment issues and three, level of insecurity.
On the social welfare aspect, it is the constitutional duty of any government to look after the welfare of the citizenry regardless of their state of mind/ mental health. Therefore, the lunatics roaming the streets also deserve to enjoy certain rights. It behooves the government not to only protect but also cater for their needs. But, unfortunately, these people are neglected, abandoned to their fate, which they have no control over because of their insanity. They are left to parade the streets sometimes naked or in tattered cloths, beaten by the sun and rain, sleep in the cold, feed from gutters and garbage, exposed to environmental and health hazards. The increasing number of insane persons on our street is appalling and calls for concern.
Aside the need for government to protect them from harms, it is pertinent that the safety of members of the public should not be endangered by the presence of insane people on the streets. The state government has the responsibility to protect its citizens against any form of danger that may be constituted by persons with mental disability. Notably, some of these lunatics on the loose can be very violent. This set of deranged people constitute real danger to the safety of the public. There have been reports of attack of mad persons on sane people in the society. It would be recalled that a suspected mad man killed a policeman attached to the Kwara State command with a matchete in Omu-Aran sometime in April. Some of them go about with harmful objects and their violent displays have driven fear into the minds of people. It is disheartening that lunatics are allowed to move freely with mentally- healthy people. Some of these mad persons go as far as tresspassing into private property and houses harassing the owners. They sometimes steal food, clothes and other valuables or beg for alms.
Despite the danger that this protend, concerned authorities seem not to be bothered about the threat this development poses to the society. It is also important to note that ritualists have taken advantage of this development to pose as mad persons to carry out their nefarious activities. It’s, therefore, high time the public and the government found permanent solutions to this insanity in our society. In developed climes, lunatics are not allowed to parade the streets.
They are given adequate attention and care before they can be allowed to walk in the midst of other people. It is the responsibility of government to provide healing alternatives for these mental unstable individuals. Most of them have chances of being cured of their insanity and re- integrated into the society and as such, should not be denied of this opportunity. There should be efforts by the government at evacuating these insane people from the street, providing them homes and rehabilitation centres, with a view to bring back their sanity. It is quite unfortunate that relatives of these insane persons neglect them; they let them loose into the streets without considering the damaging consequences it poses to members of the public. This they do as a result of public stigma. Members of the public need to understand that insanity is like any other ailment.
However, the state government owes the people the duty of ridding the streets of these mentally-ill persons. This can be achieved through a special task force with the mandate of monitoring activities of lunatics and evacuating them from the street to create a safe and friendly atmosphere for people to live in. It is only when these mentally-sick persons are effectively managed and completely taken off our streets, that there will be an end to environmental nuisance and health hazards caused by these insane persons. There is also a need for well equipped government owned psychiatric hospital, provided with professionals. Public sensitization on how to handle mental insanity in the family, the causes and symptoms and when to reach out to government for health, is also essential. The Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) have significant role to play in protecting right of these set of people and championing cause for their welfare, as it is observed that government at all levels pay low priority to mental health. Summarily, no mad person deserves to die for lack of care- they have a right to life like any sane being.