The Oasis Reporters
October 18, 2017
Right on the heels of the South African Supreme Court ruling that the country’s president, Mr. Jacob Zuma would have to stand trial for corruption, he jets into Nigeria’s South eastern state of Imo for a two day visit and the showbiz loving flamboyant governor of the state, Mr. Rochas Okorocha quickly unveiled a statue in honor of the visiting president.
Imo state shares a boundary with Abia, the epicenter of the agitation for an independent state of Biafra.
Ever since Mr. Okorocha became the state governor some six years ago running on the ticket of the then pan Igbo party, APGA, it’s been razzmatazz all along with limited substance.
He left the party to join a coalition with President Buhari’s party which later became the All Progressives Party, the APC.
In a state that has owed workers hundreds of millions of naira in back pay with much more dismissed from service without their pensions and gratuity as the main market has been demolished, Nigerians are wondering why a statue worth around 520million Naira — equivalent to $1.4 million would be erected in honor of Jacob Zuma who has contributed nothing to the progress of the state. In fact, xenophobic attacks has claimed quite a few Nigerian lives in his country.
The Zuma visit to Governor Rochas Okorocha in Owerri was a surprise one, only announced the same day by the South Africa presidency.
As well as the statue, Zuma was given a chiefaincy title and had a road named after him, according to a report by the Cable News Network, CNN.
Okorocha also conferred on Zuma the Imo Merit Award, the highest award the state gives to distinguished individuals.
As he unveiled the statue, Okorocha said: “We have decided to honor you for your love for education, though you were deprived in your early days in life but you are working to make sure that every poor child went to school.
“Your love for education to us is the connection between you and government and the people of Imo State.”
Okorocha and President Zuma also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will provide free education for poor children on the continent, according to local media reports.
Nigerians have weighed in on Twitter expressing their opinions on the statue of Zuma.
According to a Daily Post Nigeria report, the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) has decried the erection of statue of President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, in Owerri by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, including naming a street in the state capital after Zuma.
In a statement by its President, Joe Ajaero, the labour group demanded that Okorocha apologises to the citizens of the state over what he called “national shame and disgrace to them” .
ULC saw the honor to Zuma by the governor as “highly insensitive and contemptuous of not only the people of Imo State but also possessed the dangers to Nigeria if not roundly condemned and excoriated by well-meaning Nigerians” .
The labor union urged the people of Imo State and other patriotic Nigerians who feel outraged over the act to immediately demand that Okorocha should pull down the infamous statue.
It also called on the people of Imo State to demand a return of the money used in this ignoble project and march to the legislature to demand that the statue be pulled down.
The statement read in part: “We are not against honoring great men and women who have contributed positively to the development of the state to encourage them to do more but we know that whatever must have informed the choice of Jacob Zuma at this time must be everything but altruistic and patriotism.
“How he became a Nigerian or Imo State champion cannot be explained and beats our imagination. Zuma is not a Nigerian patriot, contributed nothing to the Nigerian project and the Imo State effort at development.
“He is not Shehu Shagari, Sam Mbakwe, Awolowo or Zik of Africa; either is he any of those patriots from Imo State or other parts of Nigeria who are well-deserving of such honor and who have not been honored.
“He definitely does not deserve a statue in Imo State talk less of naming a street after him.”
Nigerians simply concluded that this was a way of being grandiose, a tendency to megalomania and Imo state citizens are not cheering it, despite the reported announcement that there will be other statues.
A former Nigerian military ruler, General Ibrahim Badamasi once frowned at a statue made to honor him. He politely asked that it be reduced to a bust, citing religious reasons.