By Chioma Gabriel, Emeka Mamah, Vincent Ujumadu & Chinedu Adonu
The family of former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, has dismissed the report making the rounds that the elder statesman is dead. The family said the posts, which emerged on social media, yesterday, were unfounded as the elder statesman is still alive and his health condition improving.
Ekwueme was last week reported to have collapsed and admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of Memfys Hospital for Neurosurgery, Enugu State. Following his critical condition, President Muhammadu Buhari was also reported to have approved immediate medical treatment for the former Vice-President abroad.
But news broke on social media that Ekwueme had passed on during the weekend in a London hospital, prompting the family to issue a statement that described the rumour of his death as “wicked,” and stressing that the elder statesman is alive and well and is yet to be taken abroad.
In a statement, yesterday, by the family spokesman, Mr. Uche Ezechukwu, the Ekwueme family said: “The wicked rumour making the rounds about the deterioration of the condition of Dr Alex Ekwueme is totally untrue. The truth is that the elder statesman is alive and well. His condition is not only stabilizing but improving considerably.
He now receives visitors, sits up and eats
“In fact, the former VP has moved from a stage of unconsciousness to a state whereby he now receives visitors, sits up and eats. It is also important to inform that Dr Ekwueme is yet to be taken abroad, as the necessary documentation and preliminary arrangements are on course and are being completed.
“Any statement I make on the elder statesman is impeccable and have full authentication of the family.”
In a similar vein, an official of Memfys Neuro-Surgical Hospital in Enugu, confirmed that Ekwueme is alive, stable and responding to treatment.
The official, yesterday, said: “Ekwueme is still in Memfys Hospital and is receiving the best attention from the hospital.”
The official maintained that the hospital would not give out information about its patients, “but the rumour that he is dead is false.He is recovering and doing well. People should not spread false information.The family members are always here,” the official said.
FG yet to fly Ekwueme out for treatment
Also, yesterday, close family friends asked the Federal Government to fulfil its promise to fly Ekwueme abroad for adequate treatment.
President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said last week that the government approved Ekwueme’s treatment, adding that the package covers the immediate charter of an air ambulance for the emergency movement and the cost of treatment.
According to Shehu, President Buhari’s approval of the treatment followed a brief he (Buhari) received on the medical condition of the former vice president.
However, one of his associates, Chief Ben Ezeibe, who spoke on the issue told Vanguard on telephone that no further information had been received from the Federal Government since the announcement of the presidential approval last week.
“We have not got any further information on Dr. Ekwueme’s treatment abroad since the announcement. It is not as if Ekwueme’s family cannot treat him. He is a former vice president. So, if the Federal Government says it will treat him, it should fast-track the process,” he said.
The Enugu State government was said to be making arrangements to fly Ekwueme abroad for the same purpose when the Federal Government took over the treatment. Sources close to the Government House in Enugu, said the state government had made arrangements to fly Ekwueme out of the country, for medical attention before the announcement by Buhari to take up the responsibility last week.
Confusion at Ekwueme’s home
Meantime, there is confusion in Anambra State over the rumour making the rounds that Ekwueme has passed on.
His younger brother and traditional ruler Oko in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Prof. Laz Ekwueme, could, however, not confirm whether his brother was still alive or not.
“I am not in a position to tell you anything,” Igwe Ekwueme told Vanguard on telephone. Pressed further to speak on the health of his brother, the monarch said he did not want to talk to any newspaper on the issue.
Ekwueme’s daughter, Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe, who is the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the November 18 poll in Anambra State, was said to have informed the candidate of PDP, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, yesterday, morning that her father was still in a critical condition, even as she added that the vice president was still alive.
Ekwueme’s close friend, Chief Ben Ezeibe, told Vanguard that they were still waiting for the arrival of the Air Ambulance that would fly the former vice president abroad for treatment as promised by President Buhari.
He said: “I have been in touch with Ekwueme’s younger brother, Professor Obum Ekwueme, who is a surgeon and he did not confirm anything. He is the one handling his brother’s case in Enugu and he is the only person that is in a position to know the former vice president’s condition.”