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Thisday Correspondent and Ndoma-Egba’s kind gesture

By Michael Jegede
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Jude Okwe, a hard-working practicing journalist covering Cross River State for Thisday, a national newspaper with headquarters in Lagos, is reported to be suffering from a life threatening heart-related malady.

It has been widely reported that the Thisday correspondent, who resides in Calabar, is in urgent need of over N8m for an operation in India that will enable him to remain alive, and continue to do his most cherished job of educating, entertaining and informing the public.

Reports have it that after a series of futile effort in hospitals in Calabar, Okwe, with the backing of the Cross River State government, was flown to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where he was admitted into the Primus Inter Specialty Hospital, Karu, Abuja, for almost a month before he was discharged. Series of tests at Echo-Scan Heart Centre and Heartland Cardiovascular Consultants in Abuja were said to have revealed that the journalist has enlarged heart.

Medical reports from Heartland signed by the Medical Director, Dr. Onye Achilihu indicated that, “Mr. Okwe has severe heart failure due to cardiomyopathy. He will urgently need proper treatment which will include optimal medical therapy, cardiac catheterization, and angiogram to exclude a reversible cause. In addition, he will need internal defibrillator to prevent sudden cardiac death.”

Okwe, who is said to be currently lying helpless at his 8, Edem Oyom Street, off Mbukpa Road residence with a failing heart and swollen legs, had cried out: “The heart problem is still there but it has been brought under control. But the doctor said I have an enlarged heart and I need N8 million for heart transplant in India. If the money can be raised quickly, it would be better because the doctor said too much delay might lead to sudden death. The doctor said my heart has enlarged like twice the size of a normal heart and for it to normalise again, I need heart transplant. My heart has become flat and the blood circulation is very poor.”

He continued: “Government should assist me because I don't have N8 million. Where will I get such money? I am appealing to members of the public, churches, philanthropists to help me out of this condition because I still have enough to offer journalism and the society. This sickness is weighing me down and I am really missing journalism. Each time I miss news, I don't feel happy. It's affecting my family already. I have four children in the university and for a man who is down, it is not easy. I am just appealing to the public and the government for help. I know Governor Liyel Imoke has tried but I urge him to do more. My brother who is a teacher has done the little he could within the limit of his resources. My younger ones are not financially strong. Please, I need help.”

Perhaps, it was this cry of the dying newsman that fell into the ears of the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), who recently made a donation of N1.5m as his own contribution to the entire sum needed to save the life of the man, who believes very strongly that he still has a lot to offer in the pen profession. Ndoma-Egba, a three-term Senator representing Cross River Central Senatorial District, and lawyer turned politician is known as a man with high philanthropic spirit, who has made significant impact in the service to humanity and contributed greatly to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria.

The Senator, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while making the donation in Calabar, pointed out that he was moved by the worsening health condition of the writer. Represented by his Special Assistant on Media, Sam Arikpo, the Senate Leader appealed to other well-meaning citizens to come to the aid of the journalist so that his life can be saved.

Ndoma-Egba's kind gesture towards Okwe has been commended by many Nigerians, who noted that it was quite benevolent of him to have deemed it fit to make the said donation, while calling on other well-to-do individuals in the society to follow suit.

For instance, in a piece captioned: “Ndoma-Egba: A senator's lifeline to ailing journalist”, Group Features Editor of Daily Independent Newspaper, Mr. Emeka Alex Duru, quoted Dr. Ijeoma Duru, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gender Care Initiative, a Non-Governmental Organisation as saying: “Ndoma-Egba has shown a good example. I call on other endowed Nigerians to follow suit. Life is not about how much you have in your pocket but how you impact on others. Jude Okwe should not be left to die. All must rise up to his assistance. Ndoma-Egba has taken the lead. That is a good one”.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Cross River State, Ndoma Akpet, who applauded the Senator for his act of magnanimity, urged other philanthropists, organisations and professional colleagues of the media practitioner to support this life saving mission. According to him, the union cannot afford to allow Okwe go the way of all flesh as his service is still much needed.

Michael Jegede, a journalist and public affairs commentator wrote in from Abuja 07065574368