After months of speculations, Governor Chime comes out to say he was really away on health grounds.
Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has cancer of the nose and used his 140-day vacation to seek a cure for the ailment. This is despite spurious claims by government officials in the state that the governor’s travel was not for health reasons.
The governor admitted that he was ill, and that after he found that he had a malignant tumor in his nose, he had to find a way to get it removed.
He however said that he had no regret that Nigerians, particularly the people he governs were kept in the dark during his five-month absence insisting that he owed nobody any apology for keeping them guessing throughout the period, ChannelsTV reported.
The admission of ill health by Mr. Chime has portrayed government officials in Enugu State as peddlers of falsehood; as they had consistently claimed, while Mr. Chime was away, that he did not go abroad for medical reasons.
Governor Chime, who spoke with journalists on Monday at the Enugu State Government House, said he realized he had cancer of the nose when he went to Germany to represent the South-East zone in the study of federalism.
“In August last year, I was privileged to be one of those nominated by the Nigeria 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 medicals, 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,” the governor said.
He explained that further investigations showed that the growth was cancerous and could be cured if treatment started immediately. Mr. Chime said he immediately decided to get treatment abroad and relinquished his duties to his deputy.
From the time Mr. Chime departed Enugu State, there were uncertainties about his whereabouts. The media consistently reported that he was away on health grounds.
However, government officials, led by the Commissioner of Information, Chuks Ugwoke, vehemently denied this, saying the governor was on vacation and could do whatever he pleased with the vacation. They ensured that details of his trip remained shrouded in secrecy, leaving room for speculations.
Hinting that the reason for his trip was not exactly unknown, the governor disclosed that some people knew about his ailment.
“The people that ought to know about my predicament actually knew.
“Let me make it clear to you that there is hardly any public official that travels out on vacation only to go and rest. Most of them go out to attend to health challenges. I didn’t travel sick, it was a tumor, I wasn’t grounded. I decided to nip it in the bud,” he said.
As regards the state of affairs in the state, Mr. Chime said he was constantly kept abreast of the happenings in the state and that “the government kept on functioning”.
“Everything kept on moving as if I was around. Nobody talked about strike over non-payment of salaries, no contractor complained that he was not paid. We even had increased activities in my absence; I can beat my chest that the Deputy Governor who led the team indeed ensured that the system worked in my absence,” Mr. Chime said.
The governor said that his treatment ended in December but he was asked to stay away from office for 6 months. He said his quick recovery led the doctors to fast track his discharge.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported exclusively that Mr. Chime was discharged from hospital in December.
“I was asked to stay away from office for six months but by late January when we went to review my state, they were shocked with my recovery rate which showed that the tumour had gone. I was almost declared cancer free. I will be required to be going there from time to time, but I can assure you that they succeeded in curing the disease,” he said.