Chukwu finally speaks, clears air on his condition

Former Green Eagles captain and later coach of Nigeria, Christian Chukwu, has spoken from his hospital bed in Enugu:

“I sincerely thank Nigerians for their concern on my health. By the grace of God I’ll be back on my feet. It, however, feels bad that people have created controversy over my health. It doesn’t feel good. I have not been abandoned. The Enugu State Government has been helpful and I appreciate them. My friend, Benson Ejindu who lives in USA and who is patron of Ex Rangers players has been tremendous too. He directed that I be brought to this hospital where I am now. He contacted them and moved me to this place. I did not tell anybody that I have been abandoned. Ejindu did not also tell anybody that Enugu State Government has abandoned me. Nobody has said that. So, I don’t know where this controversy is coming from.” Chukwu spoke to this reporter on phone.

Three days ago, Enugu State Commissioner of Information, Ogbuagu Anikwe issued the statement below: Press Release Christian Chukwu Is Not A Destitute Old Man The Enugu State Government has so far been restrained in its reaction to the spate of misinformation and outright lies promoted by a friend of the iconic Enugu Rangers player, Mr. Christian Chukwu who is ill and has been hospitalised. This restraint is out of respect to the wishes of both the Chukwu family and the request of his doctors who wanted a space to quietly deal with the emergency situation that brought Chukwu to hospital on a stretcher.

Today, however, Chairman Chukwu is walking with a stick and has granted interviews to the BBC and a couple of local media. It is on the strength of this that the Enugu State Government is now putting out the following information and clarifications to explain what is happening to Christian Chukwu and how it is being taken care of: Christian Chukwu, popularly called “Chairman” in his playing days, is NOT a destitute old man abandoned to his fate in the face of an emergency health situation. He is currently the Director of Sports in the Rangers Management Corporation, a public service job that enables him to meet his basic health needs.

In the circumstance, Christian Chukwu is an employee of the Enugu State Government. This was one of the strategies that Rt. Hon. Dr. Ugwuanyi, the Governor of Chukwu’s home state of Enugu, designed to take care of sportsmen who had served the State or the nation in their youth. When Chukwu’s health situation was brought to the attention of his employer – Rangers Management Corporation – he was rushed to one of the best medical facilities in Enugu where a team of five (5) specialists have been attending to him. The management of Rangers Management Corporation immediately deposited N200,000 with this health facility to begin his treatment. On hearing about his health condition, Gov. Ugwuanyi gave an additional N1.5million to the Commissioner for Youth and Sports to give to the family — in order to ensure that the football legend did not lack anything that the team of specialists may require to manage his condition.

The Governor has also given an additional N1million to the family when the doctors demanded for a further deposit, bringing the total amount disbursed by Gov. Ugwuanyi and the Rangers Management to the Chukwu family to N2.7million. The total bill submitted to date by the hospital for Chukwu’s treatment is N2.7million. To date, the doctors taking care of Chukwu have NOT released a medical report of his health condition to anyone, not even to the state government that has been picking up his bills. It is therefore curious how anyone without this information could have determined that (a) Christian Chukwu needs oversea medical care, and (b) the cost of this oversea care.

This point needs restating: the medical director of the Hospital is also as surprised as we are that someone in the USA who is not privy to a medical report on Chairman Chukwu’s condition can determine that (a) Chukwu needs a treatment abroad (b) the cost of such treatment, and (c) even without Chukwu or any member of his family asking for a second medical opinion or for treatment abroad.

Our intervention on this matter has become necessary to clear the air on the spate of misinformation, disinformation and outright mischief that otherwise well-intentioned commentators have continued to dish out, based on the misguided efforts of a friend of the football legend who is giving a false impression that Chukwu is a destitute old man, perhaps in a bid to whip up public sympathy that enables him meet his goal of raising money to help his friend. The Enugu State government notes that the negative stories surrounding Chukwu’s condition originated from the desperation of his friend in the US who is falsely claiming in his appeal fund drive message that Chukwu has been “abandoned.”

Finally, if at any time the hospital doctors or the Chukwu family indicate that oversea treatment is required, the Enugu State Government will be notified and will respond appropriately. Ogbuagu Anikwe Hon. Commissioner for Information, Enugu State Tues 9 April 2019 Chukwu was yet to see the full text of this statement as at yesterday but when briefed he sounded sad about the controversy people have created following his condition. “Ejindu is the biggest patron of Rangers. He made it possible for me to be in this hospital. He comes with a clean mind to help and this controversy is not necessary. The commissioner and the state government have shown tremendous concern. The governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has been wonderful and Ejindu has been of great help, so why all these? My prayer is for all to be well and I can’t thank Nigerians enough for their concern.”

Apparently to assure that he’s still alive to things, he cracked a joke just before the chat ended. Many years ago at Ibadan when Rangers played Leventis United. Chukwu had retired and now coaching with Emmanuel Okala. Rangers dominated the game. Rain was falling heavily. Ikechukwu Ofoje had overlapped to hit the bar two times. It was in one of those incessant attacks on Leventis goal area that Bunmi Adigun cleared the ball. From Leventis goal area the ball sailed and rolled to the goal of Rangers. David Ngodigha, in goal for Rangers bent to hold the ball but slipped. The ball lazily rolled into the net. Many of Leventis players didn’t even immediately see what happened until the referee signaled to the centre for a goal. Rangers players were so shocked they did not know whether to pass the ball or just walk away. It happened in stoppage time. As soon as they passed the ball the referee blew the final whistle. Without allowing nerves to calm down, the seemingly overzealous reporter in me rushed to Okala and asked ‘coach, what could you attribute to the defeat of your players?’. Okala did not take the question kindly as he was sure I saw what happened. I did but wanted his own description. Okala frowned and charged at me saying “ina attribute ifuro rain? It means ‘what are you attributing, didn’t you see rain? I made three steps backwards before leaving him to interview another person. It became a source of joke among a few of us till date.

When I finished discussing with Chukwu yesterday, he asked me “what are you attributing to this controversy?”. It felt good that on his hospital bed Chukwu, Nigeria’s living football legend, was alive to jokes. Could it be that the Enugu commissioner was not well briefed or misinformed about Christian Chukwu’s friend before he issued the statement? Or could it be wrong for anybody to plan to move his friend abroad for medical treatment? For Enjindu to move Chukwu to the hospital where he is now, could he not have spoken with Medical Director or any medical staff there? Could it be that Ogbuagu himself was misinformed? We have more on this tomorrow.