Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, on Monday night admitted that his long stay abroad was in order to treat cancer and remove the cancerous tumors from his neck and nose to prevent them from spreading.
Chime told journalists in Enugu that he was not sick initially when he travelled out of the country on September 19, 2012 but that his health took a turn for the worse due to the agony and trauma he went through in the process of removing the cancerous tumors in London.
Chime was away from the country for more than 140 days, which generated a controversy over the length of time a governor could leave his state, with many, including the Save Enugu Group asking for a transfer of his power to his deputy.
In his narration of the events, the governor said, “in August last year, I was privileged to be selected by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to represent the South-East on a team that was to travel to Germany and study their federalism. I then decided to use the opportunity to pass through London and do my medicals since it was the only opportunity I had to do that. After my medical, I was certified fit by the doctors, but I noticed 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.
“I was later given a referral to a GP who after examining me said there was nothing wrong with me. I still asked for further investigation. I even made arrangement with them to help me set an appointment for further investigation. I left for Germany and had to still return to London to keep the appointment for proper screening of the growth. It was after the screening that it was discovered that the growth in question was cancerous. It was also discovered that the main tumour was behind my nose; it was simply called cancer of the nose.”
Chime said he indeed planned for a long trip and duly informed the State House of Assembly and made arrangement for the smooth running of the state.
He said, “Cancer is such a thing that when you hear it, you declare yourself dead immediately. I was subjected to further scanning at the nose and neck and was told that it was curable, not manageable. When I asked how to go about it, I was told that it had to be as early as possible lest it spread to other areas.
“Accordingly, I arranged for it to be done. I had to cancel further trips and agreed to be back in London in two weeks. Within the period, I came back to Nigeria and made arrangement for transmission. I wrote a letter to the Speaker, informing him of my decision to proceed on leave and sought his cooperation to work with my Deputy who will act as Governor.
“We even held two executive council meetings in that 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 day after.”
The governor said he was amused by news of his rumoured death last year, saying the news of his death in India gave him entertainment.
“Whenever we wanted to laugh, we looked for Nigerian papers online,” he said.
He however said there was no basis of comparison between his case and that of the late President Umaru Yar’adua who died of heart disease in 2010.
Chime said his case was neither an emergency nor like that of Yar’adua, adding that while Yar’adua travelled out sick, he travelled out a healthy man.
“In fact, let me add that the attacks started about two weeks after I left,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said he had informed the Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly that he had resumed his duties, even though he declared he was not in perfect health yet.
“I was officially discharged, that is why I had to return. I am still in the process of recovery and as such, you don’t expect me to start running tomorrow, but I am free to resume duties to ensure that activities are running on full speed,” the governor said.