- Last Updated on 12 February 2013
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After months of denial by state officials that Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime was out of the country for health reasons, the governor himself has finally come out to confirm what was always branded as mere speculations.
Speaking with journalists at the Enugu State Government House, Chime confirmed that he travelled out of the country for 140 days, nearly five months, in order to secure cure for cancer of the nose, after he noticed a malignant growth in his nose.
“In August last year, I was privileged to be one of those nominated by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum [NGF] to go to Germany to study their federalism,” he said.
“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.”
He revealed that after his medicals, the doctors certified him fit although he noticed “a little growth” beneath his jaw. He, therefore, urged the doctors to conduct further investigations on it. It was the investigations that revealed the cancerous nature of the growth and the possibility of curing it if treatment started immediately.
He promptly decided to seek treatment abroad, relinquishing his duties to his deputy and informing relevant government officials, contrary to claims by Commissioner of Information, Chuks Ugwoke that the governor was hale and hearty on vacation.
“The people who ought to know about my predicament actually knew,” he said.
“Let me make it clear to you that there is hardly any public official who 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 tumour. I wasn’t grounded; I decided to nip it in the bud.”
Continuing, he said, “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.”
Chime's prolonged absence and its management by the state government had resulted in the formation of the Save Enugu Group (SEG), which attempted to force the hand of the government into stating the governor's whereabouts and confirm the deputy governor as substantive governor, if it was discovered that the governor had become incapacitated.
But the group would later step down its struggle after the state House of Assembly said the governor wrote a letter to the House, informing the lawmakers of his travelling for vacation.