…NFF appoints him Ambassador, Ugwuanyi employs his son
It was a day of emotions yesterday in Enugu and frail Christian Chukwu battled to keep back tears.
The African football legend has been battling life-threatening ailment in an Enugu hospital for some months now.
He is to continue medical treatment in the United Kingdom and to facilitate that was Femi Otedola, the oil and gas buff whose representative Philip Akinola was in Enugu to present a $50,000 cheque.
Otedola spoke to Chukwu on phone shortly after the presentation at Chukwu’s Trans Ekulu house in Enugu. And leading the Nigeria Football Federation was Amaju Pinnick whose remarks were laced with emotions. Otedola told Chukwu to be strong, get well quick.
“We will do our best for you and God almighty will see you through.” It was at this point that his eyes became heavy. Amiable governor of Enugu State , Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led the way. The crowd at Trans Ekulu created a scene.
Ugwuanyi’s visit meant a lot to the people too. His government has been taking care of Chukwu’s Bills. Their morale and financial support has been tremendous. Otedola is now taking it to another level. Ugwuanyi visited with some members of his cabinet.
His good gestures endear him to the people. When Chukwu’s first son, Emeka finished his thank you message to the delegation and Ugwuanyi was told that he was jobless he announced immediate employment for the graduate of Engineering.
NFF President also made Chukwu emotional.
“You will not die now, you will leave long to serve Nigeria more. We are here to thank governor Ugwuanyi for all he has been doing for you and mankind. We are here to tell you that Femi Otedola thinks about you and says that you are a legend of our time who must be helped in this time of need. He has a cheque for you. And when you are in London for treatment he has promised to visit you.
“On our side you know that we do not exist without players. Without you, no federation. Without you, no CAF or Fifa. Without you there won’t be football administrators. The players make the game and we must honour heroes like you.
You are an African legend and we will do our best for you. May God heal you to return home stronger. We are appointing you our Ambassador. Some stipends will follow it. You may have to move around with the Super Eagles. The governor has graciously given a job to your son and we are hear appointing you Super Eagles Ambassador.”
Chukwu’s wife, Lilian shook her head. She was emotional too. The gesture, the love from from Otedola, Amaju and governor Ugwuanyi were enough to make the entire family emotional. It was a day that gave them hope and they are now looking forward to their bread winner going abroad for medical treatment and returning home to do more for Nigeria.
He was captain of the team that won Nigeria’s first ever Nations Cup. That was in 1980. He was assistant coach to Sebastine Broadricks when Nigeria lifted the first FIFA Under 16 World Cup in 1985. With Clemens Westerhof they won the Nations Cup in Tunisia in 1994. Thus he won the Nations Cup as a player and as a coach.
The same team qualified Nigeria for their first ever World Cup finals. As the Super Eagles coach, he won the Nations Cup bronze.
Amaju couldn’t be wrong when he described him as a legend, an icon and a hero. Otedola has also shown class in magnanimity, patriotism and compassion to send a helping hand.
Chukwu’s family was not the only one that thanked their stars yesterday. Ugwuanyi visited Nikea Specialist Hospital where Chukwu was treated. During his inspection Dr Ike Nwachukwu, a UK trained surgeon told him of a patient, Achebe Kelechi who had had hip replacement in another hospital and was undergoing corrective measures. He could not pay his Bills and Ugwuanyi cleared them. The man’s wife, by his bedside, was dancing until the governor left the hospital.