Rangers, Enugu State Govt Did Not Abandon Chukwu, Says Owumi

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*Enugu FA chairman says Chukwu is stable now at the hospital

Duro Ikhazuagbe

General Manager of Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, Prince Davidson Owumi has denied claims in a section of the sporting media accusing the club and the state government of abandoning a former caption of the team, Christian Chukwu in his present challenging health condition.

Chukwu who also captained the Green Eagles to win the African Nations Cup on home soil in 1980 has been battling prostrate cancer.

USA-based Patron of the Flying Antelopes, Benson Ezeomeogo Ejindu was the one who first posted on Facebook at the weekend asking Nigerians to help raise $50,000 (about N18million) for the surgery and treatment of the former Super Eagles coach fondly called Chairman.

But in a swift reaction to the scathing remarks on how both Rangers and the Enugu State government have abandoned the ailing Chukwu, Owumi insisted the coach was not abandoned.

“Rangers management and the state government under the leadership of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi have been up and doing since coach Christian Chukwu (MFR) was hit with this health challenge,” Owumi said in a statement yesterday.

“We, Rangers, made the initial deposit for his admission for medical attention at Nike Clinic, GRA, Enugu and after informing the state government of his condition, the sum of One million, five hundred thousand naira (N1, 500, 000) only was made available to his family for treatment which has been carried out and he is right now in a hotel recovering from the treatment carried out on him.”

Owumi revealed further that it was Rangers FC that made the initial deposit of N200,000 for Chukwu’s admission and commencement of his treatment at the private hospital.

“Christian Chukwu is a legend and our governor holds him in very high esteem and takes whatever concerns him with high regard.

“So, it beats me hollow why some media channels would resort to unfounded stories that he was abandoned.

“It is not true. Our legend, Chukwu has been assessed by medical personnel at the hospital and is gradually getting over the health challenge.

“We did not want to make the efforts of Enugu State government and Rangers in this case public, because his family never wanted his condition a public affair,” observed Owumi in the statement.

However, a top Nigerian coach who did not want his name in print told THISDAY yesterday evening that he was disappointed with both Rangers and the Enugu State government for waiting till Chukwu’s case became a national embarrassment before intervening.

“Chairman Chukwu has been down for sometime. I know attempts made to get help for him from the government that fell on deaf ears. Beside, what is the N1.5million contribution from the state government out of a budget of N18million needed for his treatment and rehabilitation abroad?,” queried the former top coach.

He pointed out that lack of care from those in authority for former sportsmen and women is the reason why the country has not been able to take her right place in global sports.

“Those who toiled in sweat and tears to bring glory to this country are usually not taken care of in their prime when they needed help most. The case of Chukwu is just one in several hundreds out there suffering in silence and penury,” concludes the bitter coach.

Chairman of Enugu Football Association Chidi Offor Okenwa also confirmed last night that Chukwu was in a stable condition at the hospital with all necessary tests carried out.

“I have spoke with Christian Chukwu today and is high in spirit. Even the hospital has assured us that he his condition is stable now while all necessary tests have been carried out. The results of the tests will determine other necessary line of action to follow by the medical personnel,” stressed the Enugu FA boss who is also a member of the NFF board.

Apart from Chukwu’s credentials as Nigerian coach, he was previously head coach of the Harambee Stars, the national team of Kenya.

He led the Green Eagles to win Nigeria’s first Africa Cup of Nations win in Lagos and handed the trophy to President Shehu Shagari right inside the National Stadium in Lagos.

Chukwu also assisted Sebastian Brodricks-Imasuen to win the maiden Kodak/FIFA Under-16 World Cup in 1985 in China.

Bitrus Bewarang and Chukwu assisted Clemens Westerhof to win the AFCON 1994 in Tunisia and as well qualify Nigeria for her maiden appearance at the FIFA World Cup at USA ‘’94.