Nation building: Cleric urges FG to prioritise mental health, trauma management


Nation building: Cleric urges FG to prioritise mental health, trauma management

By Bridget Ikyado

Abuja, June 22, 2023
Rev. Fr. Stephen Ojapah, a Catholic Priest has urged the Federal Government to prioritise mental health and trauma management to maximise the full potential of all Nigerians in nation building.

Ojapah made the call at a conference to mark the 10th anniversary of his priestly ordination in Abuja on Thursday.

The conference was titled, “Trauma Care, Social Cohesion and the Role of Leaders as Ingredients for Nation Building.”

Ojapah who was a victim of kidnapping in 2022 said that there was need to attend to the mental health of Nigerians, ensure healing to enable them contribute meaningfully to nation building.

“As a way of contributing to Nation building, I have decided to use this opportunity of my 10th priestly anniversary, and one year kidnapping to draw the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria to two things that can give an average Nigerian a sense of belonging.

“One is attention to mental health, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by many who are in dare need of it.

“A conducive environment that discourages hate speeches by religious leaders. Some of our religious leaders and politicians are actively engaged in nation destruction with their utterances; we have a nation to build,” he said.

Bishop Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Catholic Dioceses said all Nigerians are living under some level of fear especially when traveling.

He said there need for national cohesion as ethnicity, social class, region among others have literally become instruments of war among the people.

According to him, trust is becoming a scarce commodity as we no longer know whom to trust largely because of what the society has become as a result of banditry.

“We must remain vigilant, unless our communities are secured, unless we have a sense of respect for one another is enshrine and we take the sense of community beyond the boundary of religion and begin to see ourselves and create some level of civility around ourselves, it will be difficult.

“This is where I think religious leaders have a role to play,” he said.

The Father of the Day, Mr Sunday Oyibe said that no amount of words can explain what a traumatised person is going through saying that only the victim can tell ‘where the shoe pintches.”

He said that a traumatised individual without psycho-social help has the potential to withdraw or to revenge.

Oyibe, however, said that if Nigeria most be good and move forward, there was need for all Nigerians to wear a forgiving attitude in relationships with one another.

In his remarks, the Country Rep for Global Peace Foundation, Rev. John Hayab said that all humans irrespective of religion, race, tribe or culture are members of one family under God.

According to him, we share the same pain, successes and challenges; women of all faiths give birth the same way and want their children to survive.

He said that there need for all Nigerians to work together and celebrate one another as everyone irrespective of creed, passes through trauma in times of violence.

Hayab stressed the need to deliberately drive inter-faith activities into rural areas beyond the media space as majority of those involved in religious crisis do not have access to media.

Also, Mr Dahiru Majeed, a political and social analyst, said that Christianity and Islam as practiced today by many has deviated from the core values.

He said religion has been weaponised and that some causes of trauma in the world today are rooted in religious violence.

Majeed said that there was need for religious leaders to look between the lines and reverse the trend.