Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, admits that he stayed away from office for about four months, in order to be treated of a non-malignant cancer
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 25, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
AFTER his return to the country February 7, it took him another three days to address the controversies surrounding his absence for more than four months. On Tuesday, February 12, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, eventually addressed a press conference to shed light on why he had been away from office for 140 days. Chime disclosed that he had gone to remove a cancerous tumour found in his nose and neck. The tumour had been discovered while doing his medicals in London last year.
Narrating his experience, Chime said: “In August last year, I was privileged to be one of those nominated by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to go to Germany to study their federalism. I was to represent the South-East zone; I had to use the opportunity of the trip to pass through London to do my medicals since it was the only opportunity I had to do that. After my medical exmaination, I was certified fit by the doctors, but I noticed that I had a little growth beneath my jaw. Ordinarily, nobody could see it but I felt it seriously and asked the doctors to do further investigation on it.”
According to Chime, further investigation revealed that the worrisome growth was cancerous. It was similarly discovered that “the main tumour was behind my nose; it was simply called cancer of the nose. Cancer is such a thing that when you hear it, the person involved will even declare himself dead instantly,” he said. The governor said he was, however, told that there was nothing to worry about but that he should endeavour to have it removed as soon as possible to stop its spread to other areas. That prompted him to take a long vacation from his work and moved to London in September to seek for medical treatment for the ailment.
To ensure the smooth running of the government, the governor, in a letter to the Enugu House of Assembly, asked that his deputy be made to act as governor while he was away. “We even held two executive council meetings within the period where I informed members of my exco that I was proceeding on a long vacation. I left for Abuja the next day and attended the Governors’ Forum meeting and the next day I left for London, settled in and saw the oncologist the next day.” He said he had treatment for 12 weeks during which the doctors advised him to stay out of work for six months. But by December 14, last year, Chime said he had completely recovered.
The governor was not happy about the way his absence was treated in the Nigerian media. But he also found something to laugh at in their reports. “When I read in the papers that I had died in India, it was a source of entertainment. Each time we wanted to laugh, we looked for Nigerian papers online,” he said.
But he disapproved some reports likening his case to that of the late President Umaru Yar’adua who died of heart disease in 2010. “My case was never an emergency and it can never be likened to that of Yar’Adua. While Yar’Adua travelled out sick. I travelled out a healthy man and let me also tell you that the attacks started about two weeks after I left,” he said.
Meanwhile, prior to the press conference, Chime sent a letter to the Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly intimating him of his return and his decision to return to work immediately. He said he was fully fit and perfect in health to discharge his responsibilities as the state governor. “I was officially discharged, that’s why I had to return. I’m still in the process of recovery and as such you don’t expect me to start running tomorrow but I’m free to resume duties to ensure that activities are running on full speed,” Chime said. He thanked the legislators and people of Enugu State for keeping faith with him.