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Insanity in Sanity: Inside Neuro-psychiatric Hospital 'Yaba Left' ~Omonaijablog


When you hear of Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, aka 'Yaba left' what comes to the minds of an average Nigerian is a 'home of insanity'.  

You think of a place where those who are mentally derailed reside. The Yoruba tribe will say; 'Haa! Ogba Were' (meaning Mad People's Courtyard), but I have been there.

On Monday March 9, 2020, I was invited to grace the opening ceremony of 'Colombo Drug Advisory Program', a train the trainers programme for Drugs and Drug Abuse and other harmful substances by the hospital in conjunction with the Colombo Foundation, a brain child of the silent achiever, Dr. Mrs Oluwayemi Cecilia Ogun, who is the Medical Director of the Hospital.

It was actually my first time of visiting Yaba Psychiatric Hospital. I alighted at the Yaba end of the Mainland to Island yellow commercial buses bus stop, walk some metres down the street and cross to the left, then I knew why they called it 'Yaba Left'.

Approaching the Psychiatric Hospital from the Lagos Mainland axis, you must turn left to access the almost 112 years institution. As I got to the gate, I said a silent prayer (prayer of guidance and protection), kissed my wedding ring that I considered my good luck charm and I entered the premises.

At first, I was a bit scared because everywhere was silent and calm. 

No one was running around violently. No one was being chased around with ropes or chains. No siren blazing, no one cursing another fellow, no bashing of someone's car, no blockage of roads, no one-way driving, no illegal display of goods on the road, no smoking of weeds or marijuana; no thrashing of disposable materials on their inner roads, in fact, no hanging of clothes or any other dirty objects within the vicinity. Everywhere was calm; everyone attending to their duties, no raged individual was seen around; it was indeed a serene environment.

Seeing all these, I looked around again trying to see if I actually entered Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, but I was in the right place.

Before the commencement of the program I went for, I took out my time to move round the premises of the institution and what I saw was beyond my expectations.


Dr. Mrs. Oluwayemi Cecilia Ogun is the Medical Director of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba.

Under her watch, the biggest Neuro-Psychaitrist Hospital in the country has recorded great achievements.

The Idowu Malomo Library

Sited conspicuously behind the Administrative building of the Institution is the Idowu Malomo Library. Named after one of the past Medical Directors, the library is well stocked with educative and assertive learning books which are essential to the progress of the Institution.

Patients' Orderliness
After the training that lasted for some hours, I sought the permission of the MD to visit the wards of the patients and she assigned one of her office staff to take me round.

I've lived in an hostel before during my school days, but what I saw here made me realize that there might be some 'benefits in insanity' after all. Clean, clear and sane rooms. No one was seen running around or disturbing others with music or any other noise making materials. 

Their rooms well ventilated, their beds well laid. The patients moved about in an orderly controlled manner and when the time for their lunch was announced, they filed out to the kitchen in an orderly and polite manner. No clattering of plates, no dragging of feet, no noisy and lousy laughs, it was indeed a lesson for the 'sanes' outside. 

The Patients' Cafeteria

The newly renovated Mobolaji Johnson Cafeteria is a massive hall that has over 20 long tables and benches. Made with iron, the long siting benches has a cushion upholstery and can conveniently ocuppy 6 persons in a sitting position.

Having about 10 cooks (both males and females) with giant pots and kettles, the cafeteria is another remarkable value of the hospital.

Well ventilated, with about 14 'working' ceiling fans, patients filed in there to take their food. Some preferred to eat right there at the cafeteria, while others took theirs to their various wards.

Although, some of the staffs I met there complained that some of the utensils in the kitchen were as old as the institution itself and needed a change to better and ultramodern ones.

They also appealed to the institutions' management to help renovate some of the bad portions of the kitchen, which they said was an 'eyesore' but, they generally agreed that the standard of food being prepared there hasn't been affected.

The Occupational Therapy Department 
This is one department that most sane minds would have gladly pay to belong. Mrs. Feyikemi Akinyelure is the Head of this department. Sound and vibrant, she took me round their various units while analyzing how these patients (both in and out patients) were being engaged.

Mrs. Adeyelure said, “Their trainings and the response they give matters a lot in their recovery process. We engage them from Monday to Friday. We called it 'a day hospital' for patients that have been discharged, who come from home on daily basis depending on where they stay. We do consider the distance they come from so that we don't add to their stress."

She said, “If they come from far distance, we allow them to make it just 3 times in a week. What we normally do here at Occupational Therapy department is to control relapse. Relapse is one of the major Psychiatric problems we encounter. This happens because when most of these patients when they are discharged find it difficult to use their drugs and observe or practice what they have been doing before they were admitted. Once they referred to this department, we make sure they do all the necessary things they are supposed to do so that they would not come back to the hospital for the same ailment."

"We also train them on vocations because, most of them once they are discharged have problems with their jobs while some have no job at all.

So, we train them on various vocational skills that they can engage themselves with."

The OT department out of necessity checks for their areas of interest before they choose what to train them on.

Assertive learning is also one of the note worthy training these patients are drilled on. They learn on how to be bold, self assured and confident without being aggressive.

Some of the trainings being carried out at the department includes, catering, shoe making, hair dressing, barbing, computer training, bead, basket and raft making, tailoring, bags making, adire tire and dye, liquid soap and perfume making and many more. 

The Sleep Laboratory

Even a sane man needs sleep. This laboratory was put in place to conduct sleep studies and help those with difficulty in sleeping. It has comfortable beds, attractive interior designs to aid sleep in a very clean and serene environment. 

Who is 'insane'? 

As I stepped out of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos premises that day, some Lagos security operatives (LASTMA) were chasing a 'danfo' driver who had passed a 'one-way' lane from the Lagos Island end of the road and in an attempt to escape being arrested crashed into the fence of the hospital thereby pulling a large portion of the fence down. Seeing this, I looked back at where I was coming from and said to myself, surely 'sanity lives inside there and insanity lives outside here'.

Pictures of the destroyed fence of the hospital.

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  1. I read this article, it is really informative one. Your way of writing and making things clear is very impressive. Thanking you for such an informative article. Psychiatric Wellness Center