Former Vice President Alex Ekwueme was on Sunday, November 11, 2017 flown abroad for continued medical treatment but the Muhammadu Buhari government has refused to bear the cost of the treatment.
This shocking decision comes even as President Buhari attempted, last week, to score cheap political points with the illness of the 2nd Republic politician.
The president had announced that Buhari had “approved” for Ekwueme to be flown abroad for treatment and that the government would cover the cost of the treatment. The statement generated a media storm with experts saying that the former vice president is entitled to such benefits and it wasn’t at the discretion of the sitting president.
Sources told Vanguard that this was because the federal government has reneged on its promise to bear the full cost of treatment and transportation of the elder statesman to a hospital in London, and referred the issue to the Anambra State government where Ekwueme hails from.
According to the sources, the chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, who released an Air Ambulance to take Ekwueme to London, informed the Ekwueme family that was “the extent the government could go”.
It was learned that Ekwueme’s younger brother and surgeon, Professor Obumneme Ekwueme, who would have travelled with his brother to London as head of his medical team was dropped from the Air Ambulance because he had problems with foreign exchange that would take care of other exigencies that would arise such as feeding, accommodation, drugs and laboratory tests among others.
Obumneme would now depart for London today, November 13, to join his brother and ensure adequate treatment for him.
The family source wondered why the Federal Government would promise to treat Ekwueme as a former vice president and later renege on such promise.
“We are not surprised about the development because Ekwueme has not been receiving his entitlements from this administration. The Federal Government was not pressurised to make the promise. It did so on its own volition.
“It is not as if our family could not have treated him in the best hospital in any part of the world. Even if they are not treating him, let them pay him his entitlements when he is still alive. They should not wait until he dies so that they will come and pay tributes to him as the best man while alive,” the family sources said angrily.
Ekwueme was brought to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu with a National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu, SUV ambulance at about 7: 26 am and driven straight into the tarmac, where he was taken into a waiting air ambulance with registration number N605 JA. The white Air Ambulance was said to have arrived the airport late Saturday evening and spent the night at the airport.
He was transferred into the aircraft in the presence of his family members who escorted him to the airport. The aircraft took off from the tarmac at about 8: 37am with the family members waving to wish him a safe trip.
Among the family members present, was Ekwueme’s daughter Mrs. Onyemelukwe, who is a running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate for Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
The family members had earlier declined comments on the former vice president’s illness, saying that they were not in the mood to speak to the press and did not need any media coverage.