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Christian Chukwu, Ex- Rangers and our debt to our Heroes

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It was a huge relief to read the other day that Governor
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has reacted quickly to
the story of Christian Chukwu’s ill health and is
promptly picking up his medical bills. Many people had
felt heartbroken to read that the former Green Eagles
Captain who took Nigeria to her first African Cup of
Nations trophy in 1980 had been abandoned in his hour
of need. It is gratifying to see from Governor
Ugwuanyi’s action that our political leaders are fully
aware of their responsibility to protect and preserve our
heroes.
Well…happily, that is exactly what Governor Willie
Obiano of Anambra State has been doing since he
assumed office in 2014. And the records are there. For
instance, shortly after he was sworn in, the issue of
designing and implementing a special welfare package
for the first generation of players of Rangers
International Football Club of Enugu was tabled before
him. These were the players whose rugged performance
on the field of play had helped to restore the pride of a
bruised people still smarting from the Biafran War.
Governor Obiano had felt deeply touched by their plight
and had promptly directed his Principal Secretary, Sir
Willie Nwokoye to show him a list of the players.
“I listed the members of ex-Rangers of Anambra
extraction and took to him,” recalled Sir Nwokoye in a
recent exchange. “Governor Obiano asked me “are these
all the people who played for Rangers immediately after
the war?” I said “no, these are Rangers players of
Anambra extraction.” And he told me that Rangers was
Rangers and that it did not matter which state the
players came from. He directed me to go back to my
office and recompile the names of all the people who
formed the first generation of Rangers players. I did the
compilation with Emmanuel Okala, former Rangers and
Green Eagles goalkeeper who is also Senior Special
Assistant to the governor. We drafted a list of 58 players
and Governor Obiano signed off on the document,
authorizing me to pay them a welfare package every
month. And from 2014 till today, my office has
administered that welfare package every month without
fail. You may choose to find out. The ex-Rangers meet
on every last Tuesday of the month in Nnamdi Azikiwe
Stadium in Enugu,” Sir Nwokoye further revealed.
Hinting that Obiano is usually touched by anything that
has to do with people who used their talents and gifts
to help Ndigbo stage a speedy recovery from the War,
Sir Nwokoye revealed that when he got wind of the
appalling living condition of Chukwuma Igweonu, a first
generation Rangers player, last year, Obiano had quickly
doled out N1.5m to help renovate his house in Enugwu-
Agidi.
It would be recalled that in 2017, Anambra had
organized a concert that was tagged “A Night of
Nostalgia” where all the pop stars of the 70s had
performed. The musical talents whose songs had served
as a balm on the ache of the people after the war were
given a big stage for what might be a farewell
performance to most of them and handed a cheque of
N1m in a show of appreciation. I remember feeling
deeply touched on that night when I saw Pal Akaronu
who was reputed to be the Quincy Jones of that era,
producing songs that endure to this day. Also on the
stage was Chief Zebrudaya (Chika Okpala) whose
sublime jokes helped wipe the tears away from many
cheeks. Bands like sweet Breeze, Semi Colon, Wings,
Funkees, Wrinkars Experience, Aktion, the Apostles,
Sokay Ohale, One World and Founders 15 also
performed.
So, yes, we do not abandon our heroes in these parts.
Of course they need more support. Of course we ought
to do more. But it is certainly not a case of
abandonment. In fact, Governor Obiano has an
impressive record in preserving these memories. That is
why to date, there is no higher tribute to the memory of
the Biafra War than Ozoemezina; the memorial he
organized in 2015.

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