For Chief Eddie Ugbomah, former chairman of Nigerian Films Corporation and veteran actor and filmmaker, the past one year has been a long battle of survival. Ugbomah, who turned 78 last December, is suffering from a brain ailment, and is clutching at every straw to stay alive. What stands between his survival and death is N50m. And for more than seven months now, the Dr Oyenusi actor has been running a survival race against time.
As published in the Saturday Sun TIMEOUT of February 2, 2019, Ugboma decidedly took his fate in his hand with a raft of initiatives––including selling his autobiography and films and documentaries among others––to raise fund for his treatment. He also appealed directly to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, where he hails from.
Six weeks later, he is still not anywhere close to raising the needed fund, even after selling his house and car. His appeal to the Delta State government evoked a tenuous response.
Eddie Ugbomah is making a last gasp effort to appeal to the world “to not let me die like a rat.”
During a brief interview, with Saturday Sun, he once again sent an SOS appeal directly to the Delta State government and to Nigerians with the milk of human kindness.
He disclosed: “I sold my little house yesterday and I have also sold my jeep to raise money to go abroad.”
According to him, the story published by Saturday Sun evoked some response from officials of Delta State Government.
“They got in touch with me sometime around February 13,” he confirmed. “They asked how much I needed for treatment and I told them it is N50m. They said, is that not too much? I explained what I have done on my own, how I have sold my things and how I want to launch my book, my autobiography. I called the press secretary to the governor. I called four commissioners. They asked me to write letters, email and also courier to them. I sent the letters to them and they said, “We received it, we will push it.” But they are yet to communicate with me since then.”
Ugboma said he has reasons for continuing to appeal to Delta State governor. He gave one: “Delta State gave me an award last year. It makes no sense to give me an award and allow me to die one year later.”
Aside from the lukewarm response from Delta State, Eddie had earlier been disappointed by Lagos State: “The Lagos State governor was planning to buy my gallery when I needed money to go abroad for treatment until the last minute when one of the commissioners spoiled the whole idea.”
He is further traumatized by his ordeal at the hands of the hospital. “I have been sick in bed for the past 10 months, I have been to six different hospitals including LUTH. All they did was charge me for diagnosing wrong illness. LUTH sent me to a specialist in Ikeja and he charged me N220, 000; they sent me to another specialist for the eye in the same Ikeja and that one charged me N144, 000. What is LUTH meant for? Is it to be making money for their friends?”
Despite giving him “the same medication” (which I have been taking since last September, he said), there has not been any significant improvement in his condition. “My tooth is totally bad, I sweat a lot, I can’t hear, I can’t eat, I don’t see, my ears are blocked, I have lost my voice and I suffer severe headache every day,” he complained.
His current challenges notwithstanding, Ugbomah is optimistic about beating the odds. “I am in touch with four hospitals abroad, they are talking money, they said if I come alone it is cheaper, if I come with a nurse, it is more expensive, they are talking of about N50 million. I haven’t got cancer, tumour or diabetes, the scan says the disease in my brain is on a vein and has to be operated and treated by some shock treatment.”
Nonetheless, his frustration got the better of him. “I have sold my house and I have also sold my jeep, I even sold it cheap,” he said, “but that hasn’t bought my ticket. I am 78, if I have to lose my teeth I don’t mind, after all, I am old, but my brain is being scattered.”
At this point, Chief Ugbomah broke down and rounded off the interview in tears.