Medical experts in Nigeria have said that candidates seeking for political office should as a matter of importance make their health status public as a prerequisite for holding any public office.
In interviews reported by The Guardian, the medical experts pointed out that the call would spare the country the misfortune of being saddled with leaders whose medical challenges adversely affect their performance.
This call came on the heels of the action instituted before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos by a human rights group, Centre for Good Governance demanding to know the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The medical experts noted that modern day presidents have undergone regular examinations in order to trap any potential problems on the way, as well as assure the public that they are fit for office.
The President, Nigeria Medical Association, (NMA), Dr Francis Faduyile, said the school of thought that has been clamoring for this the world over premised their argument on the incidences of ill health that prevented occupiers of such offices from being able to discharge the attached duties and responsibilities, and with deaths in some instances from conditions that were previously known.
“It is a fact that certain health conditions may become aggravated by stress and exertion, which may come with electioneering campaigns and the demands of the office of the President.
“The public declaration of the state of health or the knowledge of it, will guide the electorates in making informed decisions about the candidates, especially in developed democracy. It is also considered as part of accountability process .
“As laudable as the ideology may seem, it is pertinent to note that extant rules and laws do not stipulate that an aspiring candidate for political office, President inclusive, must undergo thorough medical examination.
” Not even mandatory by law for the President of the country. Fundamental human right is also a key issue in terms of disclosure of health status by the candidates,” Faduyile said.
On his part, a former President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Olumide Akintayo said that the only basis to declare a healthy state is when one wakes and sees that he is fit for the day’s activities.
“It makes sense to ascertain the medical status or fitness levels of all cadres of public officers from the Presidency to chairmanship of local councils.
“The inherent benefits are too obvious because a stable public officer has better grounds for an impactful output compared to a sick one who is subsumed or vulnerable to a cycle of failure.
” Within the context of our existing constitutional framework, I am not too sure there are limitations or hindrances.
“It would, therefore, be nice to insist this becomes a condition precedent, albeit constitutionally in the foreseeable future.
” I do also imagine such positive clauses will not become tools for political witch-hunt.”, he said.
Also, Dr. Otefe Edebi, a consultant psychiatrist and psychologist opined that the mental fitness status of every citizen is very crucial, as it is instrumental to the attainment of full potential, and positive contribution to the society.
“It is not just the presence or absence of psychological disorder that determines whether a person is mentally fit.
“Having mental health issues should not stop a person from vying for any pubic office, as far as such conditions can be managed well enough to allow the person function properly,Edebi stated.
In his remarks, Dr. Adegboyega Alabi, a consultant ophthalmologist,pointed that since it is a pre-requisite for individuals to undergo medical scrutiny before being offered admission into schools or job placements, public office holders should also subject themselves to such.