As Nigerians prepare to elect new leaders next Saturday, workers on essential services, like doctors and nurses and soldiers on battleground are not expected to vote even though they might have registered.
Apart from these people, there are some others who will not also participate in the elections because of their circumstances.
They include those in hospitals across the country, senior citizens in old people’s homes and some persons living with disabilities. Among this group are lepers in colonies across the states though the majority of them said that they would vote because they voted in past elections.
Our health comes first before elections —Patients
Lying feebly on the bed in a female ward, a middle-aged woman, Mrs Bisi Esubiyi, who could hardly talk with cannulas passed through her nose and forehead, gestured our correspondent to a seat near her as she squeezed her face because of the pain she was passing through.
The lanky woman looked pale as her husband and three daughters created a human shield round her. Despite her condition, Esubiyi struggled to talk with one of our correspondents though very faintly.
She told our correspondent that she had been in the surgical emergency ward for a while and was just transferred to the ward some days ago. Expectedly praying for quick healing, it wasn’t certain, however, she would leave the hospital bed anytime soon as her condition was critical.
Although she refused to disclose the nature of her sickness, she was obviously very ill.
Esubiyi, who forced a smile, was surprised to be asked if she wouldn’t miss participating in the coming elections.
She said, “I have no issue with voting nor with any candidate but my health is more important to me. I am a patriotic citizen but my health comes first.
“If there is a voting centre within the hospital, I am still not sure that I will be interested. I wish the best candidate emerge the winner as the result will determine our fate as a nation.
“We have spent much money in the hospital and all I am concerned about is how to get better. One cannot be going through the kind of pain I am experiencing and still think of voting. What I can do in my sick bed is to pray for the country as well as my speedy recovery.”
Esubiyi, who prayed to be discharged soon, stated, “Even if I’m discharged from the hospital early, I will be too weak to be in a queue to vote or endure the stress at polling centre. I cannot risk my health.”
Another septuagenarian patient at a general hospital in Lagos, identified only as Mrs Onesirosan, sat on a chair cracking her knuckles when one of our correspondents walked in. She affectionately flashed an infectious smile, indicating she longed for a company to chat with.
The septuagenarian didn’t mince words in expressing her displeasure about the situation in the country.
Onesirosan said, “I have stopped voting. Although I am in the hospital and wouldn’t be able to vote, I don’t care about voting. I stopped voting before the last general elections. The truth is that our government has failed us.
“I raised my children singlehanded without the help of the government or anyone. They have offered me nothing; so, I have also withheld my right to vote for any candidate. Over the years, they have added to our pains and sufferings; so, there is no need to give them my solidarity vote too.
“I will be on the sick bed and await the results of the elections. Whoever is elected is fine but I would not join in electing a government that won’t be responsible to the people.”
A patient, identified only as Mr Alaka, who just underwent surgery, lay in the bed in a health facility feeling bad that the elections would hold without his participation.
Alaka, who claimed to be a politician, showed intense enthusiasm talking about politics despite being unable to talk well because of pain he was experiencing. His wound also looked fresh from the transparent plaster.
“I have been looking forward to the elections, especially the Lagos governorship election; but it is unfortunate that I won’t be able to vote,” he said with some sense of recollection.
“My preferred candidate is from my ward and I have been supporting him. I have been canvassing votes for him. I believe in him and all he stands for. I have a permanent voter card to vote but illness says ‘no way’.
“I have been handicapped by this sickness. My health matters to me most; so, I will not say because I love someone I will go to vote for him despite my ill health. This is because I know that if I am dead, elections will go on; so, I will not risk my life. I wish to vote but there is nothing I can do now that I am sick.”
Like Alaka, Mr Emmanuel also desired to participate in the forthcoming elections but sickness had denied him the opportunity of doing that.
Emmanuel, who is fast recuperating in the male ward in a hospital, said he could vote if a polling unit was located close to his ward.
He said, “I am recuperating fast and getting fit by the day. I really love to vote if there will be a voting facility close by. I will not mind voting for my preferred candidate because I believe that my vote will count. As it is now, I am not certain that I will vote but I hope the best candidates will emerge for the sake of the country.”
Another patient at a public hospital, Mr Sunday Life, awaiting surgical operation when SUNDAY PUNCH visited the hospital, stated that he used to be interested in the country’s politics, lamenting that with his current situation all what mattered to him was his life.
Life, who breathed intermittently, told one of our correspondents that it was impossible to cast his vote in the forthcoming elections as he was battling to stay alive.
He stated, “I campaigned that people should collect their PVCs before I took ill. But as things are now, I don’t even have strength to vote. All that matters to me is my life. I am awaiting a surgical session and after that, I will be in the hospital for a while. It is obvious that I will be in the hospital during the election period. I wish the country well. But above all, I wish myself a good health.”
PLWDs, elderly inmates, others too
Apart from the sick recuperating in hospitals, some persons living with disabilities will also not be able to participate in choosing the new set of leaders or returning the incumbent. Others are those in the old people’s homes called senior citizens.