Beggars, mentally-challenged people roam streets in Ogun 


As a resident of Ogun State, have you been wondering why there are so many beggars and mentally-challenged individuals roaming the streets freely?

From Sango-Ota under bridge, Ifo, Ewekoro, Ita Oshin to Lafenwa, and Pansheke in Abeokuta, there is this unmistakable presence of beggars, and mentally-challenged people at every turn.

Some of them are vagrant in nature, wandering across settlements/communities in the state, while some have made certain locations their ‘home.’  And people around those locations see them everyday but there is little or no help they could render to them.

So they are at the mercy of the inclement weather and other dangers. What is the Federal and State Governments doing about their case?

Though the Federal Government established Neuro-psychiatric hospitals in some states of the federation, Ogun State inclusive, not many of these people could afford the medical services. Mental health is not free here in Nigeria if you care to know.

Families of patients spend their hard-earned money on medical bills to treat their loved ones.

What are the factors responsible for mental health challenges?

An expert in mental health and clinical psychologist at Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Dr Imisioluwa Ibikunle, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent attributed mental -health challenge to both genetical and non-genetical factors.

For those with genetic factors, she said, they are susceptible to mental health challenge as soon as they are confronted with unpleasant circumstances which they cannot cope with.

Dr Ibikunle equally linked mental health challenge to “perpetuative and precipitative factors.”

For the Perpetuative factor, she noted that ugly events in the country such as lack of money, loss of job, and deaths from insecurity among others create mental torture, anxiety and fear which will lead to mental health problem for people.

For Precipitative factor, she said sudden loss of a child or loved one could trigger mental issues too.

She said through an event which happened recently, she discovered that some families of mentally-challenged people do bring them from neighbouring states and dump them in Abeokuta, with the belief that the management of Neuro-psychiatric hospital, would pick them up for treatment.

She advised that this was not true as mental health was not free in the country.

She however added that almost all humans are susceptible to mental health challenge, because all of us are in continuum, and there existed a thin line between the two divide.


But some Nigerians still believe that there are some mentally-challenged people whose cases could be traced to spiritual attack, drug abuse or other psychological trauma.


To address mental health challenge in Nigeria, Dr Ibikunle called on the Federal Government to make mental health free, so that those with mental problems could access medical treatment easily.

She equally suggested that it should equally establish rehabilitation centres to ensure their total well being of such patients.

Dr Ibikunle also listed cases of those on medication who could not continue their treatment due to lack funds ultimately have their relapse and they return to the streets.

She said, “It is rather unfortunate that some people from neighbouring towns and villages do bring some mentally challenged relations and dump them in Abeokuta with the erroneous belief that the management of the  Neuropsychiatric Hospital will send out medical staff to pick them up.

“This is not true. Those doing this must stop, because treatment in psychiatric hospitals is not free.

“Some who come for their medication do stop at times may be due to financial constraints. Their cases may relapse if they stop taking their medication.”

Meanwhile the Ogun State Government said it was already building a rehabilitation centre to take care of the beggars and these mentally-challenged people, especially those who hail from the state.

An official of the Ministry  of Women Affairs and Social Development who did not want to be quoted told our correspondent that the state was aware of the challenge and it is already building a rehabilitation centre to address the menace.

The official explained that the centre which is nearing completion is located along Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu Road.

The official equally said the state intends to offer the inmates skills acquisition training that would last between three to six months.

And for the mentally-challenged persons, the official said the state was partnering with a trado-medical expert at present for their treatment, but expressed the hope that when the rehabilitation centre is completed, things would take a new dimension.

“When the rehabilitation centre is completed, things would be different, as the beggars would be housed there, especially those from this state, where they will be taking through skill acquisition programmes.

“And those with mental challenge would also receive medical attention,” the official hinted.


















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