April 26th, 2011
Our world has a long history of election
violence but what makes the April 2011 Nigeria election
violence distinct is the reported horrifying death of some
National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members.
How many of them actually got slaughtered, severely
disfigured, vanished in the bushes or yet to be found remain
unknown given our fragile intelligence and forensic power
but we know that a good number of service corps members died
in various riots across the predominantly Muslim northern
As young men and women serving in Nigeria’s National Youth
Service Corps, a mandatory yearlong service, doing their
civic work, little did they know that some of them will fall
victim to deadly rioting that tailed the presidential
election in particular.
As part of their calling they were helping to run polling
stations but most of these corps members happened to be of
the Christian and Southern stock resulting in their been
murdered, set ablaze, raped and maimed.
These victims reportedly fell to the hands of angry Muslim
mobs who saw themselves avenging against the Southern
Christian President, Goodluck Jonathan the declared winner
of the presidential vote of April 16th, 2011.
There is no doubt that the government will financially
compensate many victims, and the families of the sacrificial
victims or the dead, as well as give official recognition to
But what is needed now and more than ever is putting in
place crisis-based psychotherapy or counseling plans.
As soon as possible, we need professional form of mental
health care assessing for brief and longer-term therapy for
the possibly traumatized victims, their children and
Please note that this is not ‘Oyibo (White people) thing’ or
plan as depression and anxiety knows no boundary when it
comes to race, ethnic, religion or gender.n
We will all agree that many victims of this huge and sudden
trauma should not be alone to bear the psychological
problems of these torturous and ferocious acts. The ones
that are fortunate to be alive, and their families will need
practical, insightful and humane way to deal with these
Immediate crisis-based programs manned by competent
psychologists, counselors, and clinicians across various
regional human and social services agencies should be set up
for the care of victims and their families as well as
In traumatic matters as it relates to this regional
violence, feelings of irritation, apprehension,
indecisiveness, hopelessness and other likes are expected
and the successful management of these issues are essential.
The victims will gain greatly from counseling along with
getting empathy, and a focus on the special needs of these
vulnerable citizens will be helpful in the long term. The
overall wellbeing of these victims needs monitoring as many
of them could be struggling with the effects of culture
shock as many were reportedly victims of forced confinement,
fire traumatization and explosive suffering.
The frontline counselors and clinicians across what could be
called or set up as Crisis Drop- in- Centers should be ready
for and open to tolerance as they will be seeing persons
with responses of all types which could include self-blame,
fatigue, uneasiness, acute stress, insecurity, gloom,
confusion and loss.
The federal and State governments should be aware that these
violent occurrences will cause many non-Muslim northerners
living in the north to possibly remain in a state of
heightened anxiety both at work, school and in the
marketplace. As such, their concerns about more violence
should also be followed with various forms of actions like
group counseling sessions, inter-community relations
counseling, and a short tem neighborhood security or
policing in highly sensitive areas of the North.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., DABPS; FACFE; is a Licensed
Clinical/Forensic Psychologist; Diplomate of American Board
of Psychological Specialties; Fellow of American College of
Forensic Examiners (For Psy); Former Interim Associate Dean
and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Broward College -
North Campus, Coconut Creek, Florida.