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Election Postponement: Psychiatrist urges calmness to prevent health issues



Election Postponement: Psychiatrist urges calmness to prevent health issues

By Vivian Ihechu
Lagos, Feb. 16, 2019 (NNN) A consultant psychiatrist, Dr Maymunnah Kadiri says there is need for the citizenry to remain calm to forestall possible health challenges that could arise from the sudden postponement of the general elections.

Kadiri, a Consultant Neuro Psychiatrist and Mental Health Advocate, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) on Saturday in Lagos.

According to him, the announcement rescheduling the polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday could lead to sudden health challenges of some citizens.

NNN reports that the INEC had on Saturday, Feb. 16 postponed the scheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23 and governorship, state assembly and Federal Capital Territory Council elections from March 2 to March 9.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had said that the INEC met on Friday, Feb.15 and renewed its preparations for the scheduled elections and after a careful review concluded the elections schedules were no longer feasible.

The commission had said this would afford it opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.

Kadiri, who owns Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos, said: “The sudden rescheduling of the elections just a few hours to the polls could cause sudden health challenges, hence the need for Nigerians to stay calm and be strong.

“What I will encourage my fellow Nigerians to do is to please stay calm.

“Shun violence, wait and channel these emotions to cast your vote on Feb. 23 and March 9 to exercise your civic responsibility and vote candidates we believe can make positive and tangible things happen.

“This is so emotionally draining and traumatic for Nigerians but in all, and together, we should be stronger; refuse the urge to do negative things,” she advised.

On the possible health effects of the rescheduling, she told NNN that it could lead to apprehension, anxiety and anger among other emotional issues.

“This can also lead to trust issues, acute stress reaction and sometimes violence in the society due to the unexpected change because everyone was looking forward to today (Saturday).

“For those already having one form of emotional and mental health changes, they can have a relapse not just from the news, but for other contributing factors such as stress, or stoppage in taking their medication and others.”

The psychiatrist said that for those directly involved, especially the candidates and their families and friends, who think that this change may not favour them, there could be other emotional disturbances including changes in sleep, appetite and mood swings.

She told NNN that there could also be an increase in substance abuse just to calm the nerves among those that use substances before and even those that don’t.

“If they didn’t see this coming and they feel threatened that this change is not needed owing to the fact that all was set and ready for today, the emotional changes can be worse.

“Asides mental health challenges, physical health issues can be involved such as hypertension and sometimes, heart attack from the breaking news.

“Even our children will be affected because change in the school calendar to accommodate activities for today was already announced and with this, school owners will have to look out for alternatives and this can be stressful on all the parties involved, teachers, parents and students.

“With INEC’s postponement of the election, with businesses shut down, schools closed, weddings moved, international observers are here, corps members and staff already deployed, etc. so many Nigerians would counting there losses.

“There will be a lot of apprehension and anger, following the lack of preparedness by INEC; it is disheartening,” she said.

Kadiri advised Nigerians not to be discouraged but still be strong and determined to come out en masse to cast their vote on Saturday Feb.23 and March 9. (NNN)
Edited by Felix Ajide

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