The Nigerian Medical Association has called for psychiatric evaluation of political candidates especially governorship and presidential candidates ahead of the 2023 elections.
The professional body also said medical tests of the candidates would provide a comprehensive view of the state of the body system of those aspiring to hold political offices in the country.
There had been calls for medical screening of candidates to determine their state of health with many Nigerians arguing over the constitutionality or otherwise of such a move.
The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), stoked the controversy in April when he asked political parties to include drug integrity tests as part of the screening processes for candidates.
Speaking to Newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, the NMA President, Dr. Uche Ojinmah listed the battery of tests that candidates should undergo to ascertain their state of health and fitness for office.
He said, “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,” the NMA president added.
On how the tests should be done, Ojinmah said a professional body like the NMA could be charged with setting up an independent panel to carry out the medical and psychiatrist tests.
He said, “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.”
The NMA President noted that the medical and psychiatrist tests should be made public.
“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 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.”
Asked if any candidate who is not medically or mentally fit should be stopped from vying for any position, he said, “It is our position that if you have a mental problem or a neurological problem or you have any organ damaged 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.”
Meanwhile, other national offices including the NMA secretary and publicity secretary aligned themselves with Ojinmah’s position, saying once their president had spoken, they can’t speak on the issue again.
Earlier, the Director- General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae called for enforced medical check-ups for would-be Nigerian leaders, saying many of them were suffering from chronic diseases.
Speaking during the 2022 Citizens’ Get Together, a shareholders’ gathering convened by the Unity House Foundation, to examine and proffer solutions for free, fair, and peaceful 2023 elections in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Osaghae insisted that the 2023 election candidates must be subjected to medical tests.