A graduate Taxify driver, Tomi Waziri, who was shot by armed robbers at the Apongbo area of Lagos, recounts his experience.
Have you received support from your family and friends since you lost your vision?
Yes. My family and friends have been very supportive. Most times, they feel that I can’t do things on my own. They also think that if I am alone, I may be thinking a lot. So they are always around to make me happy and to encourage me.
My mum is always there for me. She is always with me so that I can be happy. My sisters often call me on the phone, even when they are not around.
My friends have also been encouraging me, including my old classmates in primary school. After reading my story in the newspapers, some of them got in touch with me immediately. They called to pray for me and to encourage me.
Has any government official or agency reached out to you?
Did any of the doctors treating you indicate that you might regain your sight?
No, but I am aware, from the last report the doctors gave me, that my optic nerve is damaged. Otherwise, I would have been seeing with one of my eyes. Some people have advised us to reach out to other doctors, even if it means travelling overseas, to find out if it will be possible for me to see again. How did you feel about your condition?
Initially, I really felt bad. When it occurred to me that losing my ability to see meant that I would no longer be able to do certain things I used to do, I felt there was nothing I could do about it other than to die and forget about life.
When those thoughts came, I just had to talk to myself and shake them off. Then I felt that something can still be done, medically or spiritually, to help me to regain my vision. This feeling stuck with me throughout my stay in hospital. Otherwise, I would have slipped into depression.
Do you think your fiancee can still wait for you in this condition?
She has been great and supportive. When I was in hospital she did a lot for me. When I couldn’t walk to the toilet or do other things on my own, she was always there to help me. She is still here for me. She makes me feel that losing my sight does not mean that I can no longer live a fulfilled life. She inspires me.
How many are you in your family?
I have two sisters and a younger brother.
Our relationship still intact –Tomi’s fiancée, Anuoluwapo Olayede
How long have you been dating Tomi Waziri?
We’ve known each other for the past 10 years. We went our different ways and later reunited two years ago.
What happened when you learnt that he was shot by traffic robbers?
Tomi’s brother broke the news to me. He called me and said that Tomi had been shot by robbers. He was afraid that Tomi might not be able to see again. I imagine the situation. It was terrible news for me that day.
With what has happened, do you want to continue with the relationship?
Why not? This can’t end our relationship. The relationship is still intact, I knew him before the incident and the incident cannot be a barrier to our relationship.
Despite the situation, my love for him gets stronger by the day.
I haven’t recovered from the shock –Tomi’s mother, Mrs Olufunmilola Waziri
How has the robbery attack on your son impacted your life?
The impact is negative. It has not been easy at all. First of all, the incident is very strange. Tomi used to give me money to prepare food. He bought my last birthday cake. Now he cannot move from one point to the other, except I am there to assist him.
I have not even recovered from the shock of the attack. Sometimes, when I am
alone, I look at him and cry. This is somebody that I always called to help me turn on the generator whenever there was power outage at home. Now, I can’t ask him to do such a thing anymore. He cannot do it unless someone trains him to do it. This is the challenge I am facing now.
What can he do in the meantime?
He is still receiving treatment because that thing really affected his eyes, nose and his upper jaws. He lost two teeth in the process. Some pellets are still lodged in his face and I am still paying his medical bills.
What about your husband?
He died three years ago.
How the incident happened –Tomi’s passenger, Damilola Oke
September 12, 2019 is one day in 2019 that I won’t forget in a very long time. On that day, I was attacked on Eko Bridge on my way home at about 8pm.
“Suddenly I saw two men walk towards the Taxify driver’s side of the car. They knocked on the window and told him to wind down the glass. They didn’t even give him the chance to do so before shooting him in the face. The man who shot him ran away while his accomplice asked me to wind down the glass on my side . God took control and made him leave without taking one item from me.
“I got out of the car quickly to get help for the driver. I started screaming loudly to attract attention. ‘They just shot my driver,’ I kept saying.
Sadly, nobody was willing to help, except a Good Samaritan, another Taxify driver with a rider who waited and conveyed me to a spot where a police patrol vehicle was parked.
“Luckily the policemen had heard the gunshots and they were already running towards the scene. They drove the Taxify driver to the hospital. I’ll say that God was truly with this young man. He had lost a lot of blood, but finally made it to the hospital in two hours due to heavy traffic.
“The driver, Tomi Waziri, is alive today because of God. Unfortunately, he lost his eyes and two front teeth in this awful attack. Also the impact of the shattered glass seriously affected his face.
“Now, he can’t do anything without help because he cannot see. The system has failed this 27-year-old man, who was waiting to serve his country and decided to work with Taxify in the meantime. This is what he got for not begging for food.”
The passenger, whose name is Oke, said that as at the last doctor’s appointment, Tomi was informed that there was nothing they (the doctors) could do medically to help him to regain his sight due to a damaged optic nerve.
According to her, a retina transplant can only be considered when the optic nerve is restored.
“In the meantime, Tomi has decided to acquire a skill from The Society for the Blind. He will be needing the following:
-Tuition for two years at N300,000; denture for his two front teeth at N700,000; a laptop computer at N140,000; a typewriter, N10,000; headphone, recorder, and memory card at N12,000.
“The objective is to raise N1,262,000 for Tomi to acquire various skills, such as computer training, Braille, mobility, typing and to help him start a career in music, as well as to fixing his teeth. I can’t do this alone and that’s exactly why I’m pleading with well-meaning Nigerians to help out,” she said.
The Executive Programme Director at Disability Awareness and Development Initiative, Emmanuella Akinola, said her organisation, which runs a rehabilitation technology, would provide professional rehabilitation service for Tomi.
According to her, the programme is aimed at providing adults who lose their sight through training on accessible technology and vocational training skills.
She said, “For Tomi Waziri, we have donated a white mobility cane and organised a mobility orientation for him so he can move around easily.
“We are managing his rehabilitation programme to ensure that he continues to live productively.”