Leaders Who Steal: Psychiatrist's Perspective (Part 2)

Leaders Who Steal: Psychiatrist’s Perspective (Part 2)

By Dr Olayiwola Ajileye

In recent times, this issue about psychiatric assessment of leaders and people in position of public trust have re-surfaced and it has merited duely, some degree of public discourse. Recently, the New EFCC Czar, Mrs Farida Waziri (Ret AIG), wondered aloud why indeed psychiatric assessment should not be a pre-condition for taking up public appointments, given the level of economic recklessness and public stealing, that has become almost a national embarrassment. Professor Wole Soyinka, sometime ago had also queried, why not? This is a global problem and the prevalence is evidently across international boundaries. There are strong reported evidence of this scourge amongst African leaders at different level, South America, Caribbean, Europe and Asia leaders. Examples are Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Charles Taylor of Liberia, Aristide of Haiti, Suharto of Indonesia, Patrice Chilumba of Zambia, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos of Phillipines, then at home in Nigeria, the examples are rife and known to all.

There are psychological and behavioural phenomenon that could possibly explain some of these kind of stealing behaviour in highly placed people. Without over-medicalising what has now become a bane of� our socio-economic development, grand corruption and public stealing is primarily motivated by what everyone knows as greed, irresponsible disposition to�exalted position of trust�and callous unconcern for the welfare of others. This is further enhanced by personality traits and psychodynamic issues inherent in those that perpetrate such activities. Effects of poor educational background, abnormal appraisal of the role of public fund and its purpose in developmental challenges, chronically deprived upbringing and life experiences, psychopathic personality traits, obsessive-compulsive disorder resulting in uncontrollable kleptomanic ritualistic stealing behaviour, severe specific anxiety and panic attacks when faced with large sums of public funds resulting in abnormal compensatory stealing behaviour, severe phobia of poverty or delusions of poverty in an otherwise wealthy individual�and perhaps, senile ‘hoarding’ or what is technically known as Diogenes Syndrome, leading to purposeless acquisition of funds or�earthly materials that one would never have need of,�it will not be too far fetched to consider as a possible differential, mental impairment of varying severity to explain this�publicly debilitating behaviour�and so on and so forth.

These are examples of Psychiatric formulations�of these Stealing leaders in high places.�This behaviour is not peculiar to political office holders, historically, we know CEOs of companies, conglomerates e.g. ENRON case, Conrad Black, CEOs of Failed Banks, Executives of corporate organisations, Stock Brokers, parastatal heads etc.�

Despite the best efforts of EFCC (Economic and Financial Crime Commission), It has been observed recently by one of Nigeria’s foremost editors of a daily Nigerian Newspaper, Mr Simon Kolawole that probes at the National Assembly have brought up a lot of revelations, but yet, no convictions. I also remember being asked once in 2001, during one of my Postgraduate Lectures in the School of Public Policy, UK, coinciding with front page news in the UK Financial Times (Nigerian Leader found with a secret �4 billion account in the UK bank). They asked me to explain, how can one person siphon �4 billion out of a state fund and yet there is no precipitant economic meltdown? Then, I struggled to position a sensible answer to that pose. Little did I know that, it was only an evolving sign and symptoms of many worrying and disturbing economic crimes against our national development?

We have heard in recent times, how $16 billion NIPP naira of the Aviation Intervention Funds/Safe Tower Project and �2.6 billion Oil block bidding revenue and so on and so forth are still unsolved and the super-celebrities leaders, who mismanaged the funds, are laughing at government efforts to get justice for teeming number of Nigerians. Recent news also revealed that an Ex-governor, a�retired Naval Officer,�of one of the Nigerian states in the North Central who died with secret accounts in Cayman Island running to millions of dollars, concealed with a different name unknown and inaccessible to his family.

Given all this madness that has become an evolving trend in public funds mismanagement and national betrayal of public trust, Will it not be right then in agreeing with the New EFCC Czar, that psychiatric assessment and profiling is needed as a tool of selecting our leaders into positions of trust? Again, this is not definitely an attempt to medicalise what has now become a deeply ingrained, culturally appropriate but morally and socially inappropriate public behaviour. But in doing this psychiatric assessments, we, can have a baseline for all of them, at least, certify them well or otherwise from mental health point of view before they attain that position, so that when infact, they become stealing leaders, with obsessively criminally acquisitive compulsive behaviour, they can be made to take responsibility and criminal liability for that and punitive consequences can be meted out as it is normally done in other civilised societies, where equality before the law is paramount.

And, if for any reason, they are deemed normal psychologically before public appointment and are then caught engaging in such maladaptive criminal acquisitive behaviour, even if psychiatric illness is feigned or appeared to be the cause, then appropriate mental health intervention can be suggested, like treatment in a Mentally Disordered Offenders (MDO) Low/Medium/High Secured Unit or Mental Asylum and therapeutic community. Also, we may then be better informed of the possible causes or precipitants to such deviant behaviour in an apparently previously normal individual.

From the Psychiatrist’s perspectives, we can then begin to hypothesise whether exposure of some individuals in Nigeria, to power, public funds, public positions of authority and responsibility is aetiologically linked to progressive deterioration in their mental health status or sudden change is personality or rather, if there is infact, ab initio, an element of deeply ingrained, enduring, pervasive, inflexible personality disorder which manifest in multiple domains, particularly in situation where public fund is being handled or over a broad range of personal, social and occupational level of functioning. Then, should this be case, our constitution and healthcare system should find a means of addressing such kind of clinically significant phenomenology, given its prevalence, its destructive and malignant effects on our national socio-economic development.

Dr Olayiwola Ajileye is a Mental Health Specialist in the UK�and Chairman of Crime Watch Newpaper, Nigeria

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One Response to “Leaders Who Steal: Psychiatrist's Perspective (Part 2)”

  1. bolaji says:

    sir i work for A.R.M investment and i wish i can get your phone number or email address to discuss some investing opportunities with you.mobolaji.shoyinka@arminvestmentcenter.com,mobolajishoyinka@yahoo.com.thanks

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