“No one can defend you because the people who should protect you are the ones abusing you. What do Nigerians have to be happy about?” – Amanda Iheme on Public Eye.
Once upon a time, it was said that Nigerians were the happiest people on earth; that we are so resilient that if pushed against a wall, we will break through and come out the other side smiling. But recently, reports have shown a higher rate of suicide, anxiety disorder, and drug abuse. What has become of the happiest people on earth?
To answer that question, on Sunday, February 14th, 2021, Funmi Iyanda discussed oil, sea piracy, and pollution in the Niger Delta with a television, film, and theatre actor, Michael Ejoor, psychotherapist and founder of Ndidi Health, Amanda Iheme, and a Chief consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist and the medical director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Dr. Bassey Edet.
The conversation started with someone brave enough to share his mental health challenges – Michael Ejoor. “I’m an actor. I’m my director, I say action and present a different front to the world than how I feel on the inside.”
“Sometimes, I look back and think, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have suppressed it.’ If I wasn’t told to deal with it because I’m a man, my mental health wouldn’t have gotten as bad as it did.”
Michael revealed that in the past he had self-harmed and attempted suicide twice.
In his words, “Silence makes it worse. If you’re dealing with depression, Soro Soke!”
Next came the segment with the experts. First was Amanda Iheme. Her thought-provoking words, “Are we really the happiest people on earth, or are we happy because we choose to deny our problems rather than confront them or face them?”
“There is so much anger. Suppressed anger. Transferred anger. Violence as a part of our culture. Narcissism as a part of our culture. Poor interpersonal relationships. Unhealthy, manipulative, controlling family dynamics.”
“Every day, people fall below the poverty line. When you have issues, no one can defend you because the people who should protect you are the ones abusing you. So what do you have to be happy about?”
When we established Nigerians are actually not happy at all, the next question was, “Why are Nigerians so angry?”
According to Dr. Bassey Edet, “Since the civil war, the country has been increasingly and continuously brutalised. We have a democratic government that is not democratic. Values have degraded.”
“But not for COVID-19, the healthcare system was at the brink of collapse. For mental facilities to work, we need sustained investment over time.”