Yesterday, February 4, 2013, the governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke completed his two months accumulated leave which started on December 5, 2012.
Senator Imoke left the country on Tuesday November 6 2012, for an over sea medical trip.
After a whole month of buck passing and denials, a statement from the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita later said the governor was proceeding on a two months accumulated leave.
The statement further said the governor had gone for his routine medical check up and was staying back for additional two months on the advice of his doctors.
“Some three weeks ago, His Excellency took a short break after a long hectic and eventful year, all preparatory to the start of the busy Calabar festival season. He used the opportunity to undergo medicals and in the course of so doing, was advised by his doctors to undergo further evaluation.
“Accordingly, His Excellency will be proceeding on a two-month accumulated leave with effect from today (5th of December 2012). In line with the provisions of the Constitution, His Excellency, Efiok Cobham the deputy governor will act in his place during the period of his leave.”
The statement also said Imoke had communicated his decision to the State House of Assembly through a letter to the Speaker, Rt Hon. Larry Odey.
Mr. Ita’s statement did a great deal to quell the fury about the governor’s absence and everyone including a usually unyielding opposition advised caution and understanding and also joined in calling on Crossriverians to pray for the quick recovery of the governor.
For once, the governor’s illness seemed to have united a usually divided political class as everyone prayed, hoped and waited in anticipation of the governor’s return to work after his two months leave.
Soon after, saharareporters, an online news portal reported that the governor was battling with a renal ailment in a Maryland, USA hospital but government officials, PDP chieftains and staunch supporters of the governor promptly made spirited efforts to debunk the report insisting that the governor had only gone for his routine medical check up and will soon be back.
Rumor mills also became awash with different versions of what was wrong with the governor owing to the fact that there was no clear statement from government officials telling crossriverians what exactly was wrong with their governor.
Social media networks at a point became awash with rumors of the governor’s death or imminent death and many suspected that most of the rumors were been generated by administration insiders.
Dispelling the rumors during an interaction with the State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, executives at the party secretariat along Murtala Mohammed Highway, Calabar in December 2012, Senate Leader Ndoma-Egba (PDP, Cross River Central) said, “I am privy to all the rumor making rounds about our dear Governor. I was with him in his house in Ellicott City, Maryland, United States of America, USA last week; so the rumor of his death is untrue and it is unfortunate that we can peddle such piece of information against a man that is still hale and hearty.
“I was with him in his house and not in the hospital or relatives’ house as being reported by the social media. In fact, when we went there, we saw him with some visitors, spent about one hour there and as we were there, the wife walked in after ten minutes with the kids, she even prepared Nigerian food for us,”
Senator Egba added that “After eating, the Governor saw us off to the car and I asked him when he is coming back and he said well I came to rest and for some medical check-up. So he said I should send greetings to all and sundry. This is not hearsay; its a wicked rumor; I have seen Senator Imoke with my eyes in his house in America recently.
“When I arrived he asked me, have you come to confirm whether I am truly dead and I said yes. He is thoroughly amused because of the rumors that he is dead”.
Senator Ben Ayade, (PDP, Cross River North), was also said to have visited the governor in his USA home.
The Senator was reported to have met “the governor in a cheerful mood, sitting and shaking hands on a brown three-seater cushion chair by a window side.”
The report further said “The governor and the senator spent almost the whole day watching American footballers on television and chatted about the Calabar carnival,”
The report also stated that “From what we saw, Imoke is a very healthy man. He has no issue of kidney failure. He only had issues of physical pressure and he needed to take some rest. It has not gotten to kidney problem not to talk of transplant. The governor was even joking that even if you show picture, people will tell you the picture was an old one that was manufactured, because the rumors are so many. I have never seen him this strong”
The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also rose in defense of the governor. The party said that they are delighted about news of the remarkable recovery of Governor Liyel Imoke who has been out of the country for medical treatment adding that the governor is expected in his office very soon.
In a statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP said “We have just received news of the remarkable recovery of the Governor of Cross Rivers state, Governor Liyel Imoke and we are very happy. We expect that he will be back to his office very soon to continue the good works he has been doing in his state.”
But despite all these assurances of the governor’s sound health, the question that most people have continued to ask is, if the governor is as healthy as the senators, PDP and other government officials want us to believe, what is stopping him from resuming work?
His Chief Press Secretary told crossriverwatch that “governor Imoke formally applied to the State House of Assembly which granted his request and it is expected that with my 5th of December 2012 press statement on the issue which explicitly said two months, one ought to have known that 6th of February makes it two months it is not only after the two months have gone past but ninety days that Imoke could be said to be absentee”.
But the two months leave has elapsed and ninety days have also passed and the governor is nowhere to be found and there is no word from government officials or Imoke’s information managers about his state of health or when he is expected back in the state.
All attempts by crossriverwatch to get answers from those who should know were in futility as none of them was willing to say anything.
All our calls to the GSM number of the state commissioner for information, Mr. Akin Rickets were not picked and text messages to him about the subject matter were also not responded to.
Mr. Christian Ita, the governor’s spokesman also politely declined comments on the matter.
Meanwhile, crossriverwatch investigation reveals that all expectations that the governor will recover and return home soon became dashed when his situation allegedly deteriorated penultimate week.
A reliable source who does not want to be named told crossriverwatch that “the governor, no doubt showed signs of great recovery and we were all expecting that he will return home even before the expiration of his leave to continue recuperating at home but the situation worsened again sometime the week before and it is difficult now to say when the doctors will allow him go.
“He is a human being too and he is getting worried himself about what the trend will become after two months, what will he tell the people and he wants to go home even if not fully recovered, he wants to just go home and continue receiving medical attention over there in Nigeria”.
It was also gathered that supporters of the governor who have been making elaborate preparations to welcome him at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos and the Margaret Ekpo Airport in Calabar were also disappointed but have vowed to remain on standby pending the green light.
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