‘Why the Rich, Educated are not safe from Depression, Suicide, Crimes’

Ahunanya, PhD


What played out last week in Tanzania where results of Presidential election were rejected by a candidate also came up in the United States of America, a democracy that first adopted its constitution in 1788!

Globally recognised emotional intelligence Coach and Deputy Director at Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration, Lagos, Nigeria, Dr. Stella AHUNANYA, in this no-holds-barred interview with Platforms Africa opens up on why people, regardless of age, colour, educational qualification, class and status, react to defeat and victory same way making them susceptible to crimes, depression, and even suicide. Excerpts;


Following our discourse on Tanzania’s election, a similar thing is playing out in the United States of all places. Kindly, give us further insight into how politicians feel after elections.

Thank you for having me on this forum. My take on the sameness of both scenario is that human beings reaction to issues depend on the level of their emotional intelligence, not on their geographical location, educational qualifications, tribal affiliations, religious inclinations or otherwise.

As we are witnessing that someone from a developed nation is reacting like another from a developing one. Emotional intelligence has to do with human ability to understand and control our feelings, then being able to understand and manage the feelings of others around us effectively and efficiently. Self-awareness, ability to be rational in the face of negative emotions, ability to empathize and receive criticism is key to building relationships that will ultimately result to achieving success in all human endeavors.

You talked about *Emotional Intelligence* the last time, it has come up again. What exactly is it and does it affect how people react to defeat?

Humans hate defeat because it brings out their inability to achieve their set goals. The goals has been set with optimism even in the face of likely defeat but an emotionally intelligent person will factor in the possibility of winning or loosing as he/she rationalizes on the outcome of the set goals and creates room emotionally on how to handle any outcome outside negative emotions but without being emotionally intelligent, the person allows negative emotions to override reason resulting to uncontrollable consequences.

So, how should one prepare himself or herself before getting into high stake competitions like election?

Our disposition to competitions should be based on rationality, we can either win or loose so we prepare emotionally to accept either position and rationally pursue positive ways to cope. For instance, one can go to court to resolve the issue instead of resorting to violence.

Victory and defeat for an emotionally intelligent person is just one side of the coin. With our ability to emphasize, victory entails reaching out to the defeated to form a team and defeat entails not destroying but joining to make things work while waiting to fight another day.

The last time, you touched on it briefly, has education or one’s background got anything to do with emotional intelligence?

As said earlier, education or similar variables has nothing to do with our ability to control our emotions and the way we handle defeat or victory

This two words have come up lately in conversations. In one sentence Madam, what exactly would you say emotional intelligence is to someone on the street?

It is your ability to understand your emotions through self awareness, once you do that, you will get to know the emotions of people around you then use the knowledge to rationalise your actions, knowing that any decision made under negative emotions will lead to negative consequences so you avoid them.

It does look, politicians and in fact all of us, have a problem in dealing with victory and defeat. How should we handle it either way?

Victory and defeat for an emotionally intelligent person is just one side of the coin. With our ability to emphasize, victory entails reaching out to the defeated to form a team and defeat entails not destroying but joining to make things work while waiting to fight another day.

We have suffered Coronavirus, and perhaps continue to suffer it. Do we need emotional intelligence to overcome some of the problems it has brought?

Sure, every challenge/problem is an upset of normality that tugs our emotional reactions so we must be emotionally intelligent to know that the only constant thing in life is change. Everyone needs to know how to work on their emotions to overcome if not, depression, suicide, crimes or negative emotions will take over.

With what we have seen so far with elections, Ghana is preparing for elections on December 7. Would you suggest some form of training in emotional intelligence for those competing. Or is it necessary for politicians?

Emotional Intelligence training is not only relevant for people that are seeking elective/selective positions, but for everyone that wants a healthy relationship. Our leaders should be aware(self-awareness), that any decisions they make based on their emotions will not be rational and will lead to negative consequences.

Can they ever put themselves in the place of the masses(empathy)? So they must be trained to do so for the good of our nations.

If we need emotional intelligence in life that much, how do we get it? Is it from the school or a trait we pick at home?

We can learn to be emotionally intelligent through every aspect of our socialization process and not only in schools. Bitter experiences in life can make one to become emotionally intelligent as you don’t want to experience such again.

Is it possible that there are some emotional intelligence lessons that we need to pick from what is happening in the US?

The emotional intelligence lessons to learn from the American Tension is that an unemotional intelligent person will always resort to emotions to act without being rational in the face of facts but an emotionally intelligent person will check for facts that is being rational before acting. We have to wait for all the election facts to emerge before our lesson is completed.

The two leading contenders in GHANA’S ELECTION have both lost elections before. UnFortunately, in what they say, it does not look like they have become emotionally intelligent, how can they be trained with just about a month to go?

One of the functions of electoral organs of every nation is to create awareness about the election and the issues that fall out of the elections so we advocate that every person involved in the election process will be trained through workshops on Emotional Intelligence which is part of Soft Skills needed for building better relationships in life.

If l get you right, it looks like emotional intelligence can build a happy marriage. Can we pick some few points from you?

Every relationship, not only marriage needs to be emotionally stable and this can be achieved if each partner understands himself/herself first (self-awareness), then understand their partner’s feelings and learn how to manage the feelings in a positive way.

How can we know he or she is emotional intelligent?

The easiest way which is the lay man’s approach is to get the person upset and check how they react negatively or positively, but it is not the best or scientific way.

Back to the EndSars protests, what would you say those who engaged in it feel now? Will they think they have failed, if so, how can emotional intelligence come to play here?

How they feel depends on the emotions that they allow to override their sense of reasoning. There is no failure if they created an awareness that there was a problem and government is actively resolving the same problem. In my own humble opinion, it was a big success, that posterity will evaluate.

Before l open the floor, one question that l want clarified is if l upset someone as a test and the result is terrible, would it be easy to get the the person to understand that it was just a test?

That is why I said, it is not the best way of testing. It will be easy if the person is emotionally intelligent.

Would you say those who are emotionally intelligent really behave appropriately or they are like clergymen who preach one thing and do the other?

They behave appropriately as they are considerate of others and will always do the right thing based on reason and not emotions. There is no pretense or hypocrisy.

Again, can l equate an emotionally intelligent person with a person who is cool and soft for others to take for granted?

Most emotionally intelligent people are firm, fair and friendly. You cannot take advantage of them as they rationalise their actions.

From our political perspective in Nigeria, would you consider or recommend a training session on emotional intelligence(EI) for these politicians?

People from every segment of our society, not only the political class need training sessions in EI, just like CMPTs, we should all be having refresher courses in soft skills as changes takes place in the polity.



AHUNANYA PhD provides these answers as a lead discussant on Platforms Africa forum 8th e-Discourse on Saturday, November 7, 2020.

Platforms Africa forum is an e-Community of intellectuals, opinion leaders and policy moulders in Africa with membership spread across the West, East and Southern Africa

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