On Saturday, October 14, Nigerians woke up to see a statue of Jacob Zuma, the South African president unveiled by Rochas Okorocha‚ the Imo state governor. He erected the bronze statue and named a street after President Zuma during his two-day visit to the state. During the unveiling, Governor Rochas also conferred Zuma with a chieftaincy title and the highest Merit Award in Imo State.
Governor Rochas tried to justify the present gaffe but his explanations sound hollow and false: “We in Imo State have chosen to identify with this great leader in person of President Jacob Zuma who meant well for his people…” We? Which ‘we’ is Okorocha referring to, please?
Did the state House of Assembly deliberate over the decision to establish a political Jurassic Park in Owerri? And who discussed and approved the honour’s list? We? Is Mr. Okorocha referring to his own sycophantic State Executive Council or the traditional rulers who gave Zuma the title of Ochiaga?
Is it not embarrassing that a state government controlled by the All Progressives Congress which is fighting corruption could play host to Mr. Zuma, allegedly a corrupt leader in the current assembly of heads of state in the African Union and portray him as a hero before a group of African youth?
Is Governor Okorocha not aware that Mr. Zuma has been found guilty of corruption by the courts in South Africa and has been ordered to refund the $500,000 stolen from the public treasury to expand his private house to accommodate his many wives? The people are no longer as stupid as African politicians assume. They are tired of being used as stepping-stones. I put myself in their shoes and I share their pain.
It is hoped that the duo of Zuma and Okorocha will stay away from casting of funny bronze statues and castles of personal glorification. When in doubt, let them read Percy Shelley’s sonnet – Ozymandias. Statues will crumble, brought down by the opposition or ruined by the vagaries of weather and the ravages of time. But good deeds will endure and history will speak.