For erecting a statue of South African President, Jacob Zuma, in Owerri, workers under the aegis of the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) have described Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State as “an embarrassment to all Nigerians”
“ULC urges the people of Imo State and other patriotic Nigerians who feel outraged over this very unpatriotic and treacherous act to immediately demand that Okorocha pulls down the infamous statue. As long as that statue stands, it remains a standing disgrace and shame to the perfidy which Rochas’ government has become to Imo State and indeed the whole of Nigeria”, they said in a statement signed by ULC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero.
The statement entitled ‘ROCHAS AND ZUMA’S STATUE: AN INSENSITIVE ABERRATION’ reads:
“We observe with consternation and disgust the shameful event that was the erection of the statue in Owerri honouring Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa by the Governor of Imo State, including naming a street in the state capital after the President. This is highly insensitive and contemptuous of not only the people of Imo State but also possess the danger of spreading its evil bile throughout Nigeria if not roundly condemned and excoriated by well-meaning Nigerians.
We are not against honouring 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 neither a Nigerian patriot nor has he contributed anything to the Nigerian project nor the Imo State effort at development. He is not Shehu Shagari nor Sam Mbakwe, Awolowo or Zik of Africa neither is he any of those patriots from Imo State or other parts of Nigeria who are well-deserving of such honour and who has not been honoured. He is definitely not deserving a statue in Imo State talk less of naming a street after him.
“ULC believes that it is highly insensitive for Okorocha to have chosen at this time to give such honour to a man under whose watch Nigerians have been murdered both by state agencies and the masses his leadership aroused by negative propaganda against Nigerians. “What this means is that Rochas has endorsed the killings of Nigerians in South Africa under this man’s watch and is celebrating it here in Nigeria for all of us to see so that those who lost their loved ones in those unfortunate xenophobic attacks in South Africa will continue living in mourning as they wake up daily to behold the face of Zuma’s statue. Rochas is rubbing our faces in the mess!
We also wonder why Okorocha thinks that a man who has almost ruined the Economy of his nation and whose corrupt and itchy fingers have become documented to the extent that the South African Judiciary has decided a few days ago to resurrect the Hundreds of cases against him in the country. What will Nigerians and especially the people of Imo State learn from such a man? Perhaps Okorocha endorses and celebrates corruption which may be a sign of the way he has also governed the people of his state. This is truly unfortunate.
For a state Governor who is in the habit of owing workers’ salaries and worst still owing pensioners months in arrears including as alleged by some of issuing dud cheques to some of them, we wonder where he got the millions with which he embarked on this white elephant project thus path to infamy.
Giving Zuma a traditional title in Nigeria especially in Imo state is truly a celebration of mediocrity and xenophobia and should not have been allowed by a Government that has the interest of the people at heart. We ask; what is the benefit of this for the people of Imo State and Nigeria in general? What is in this for our democracy? What is in this for the war against corruption?
What is in this for the promised change which was the mantra upon which the Government of Okorocha came to power? Has Okorocha put his personal ambitions and pursuits ahead of the interests of the people of the state or has he allowed his basal inclinations to overshadow the development of Imo state? We are indeed living in worrying times!
It becomes a living testimony to the apparent thoughtlessness of not only Rochas but most members of the nation’s ruling elite.
“People of Imo should demand a return of the money used in this ignoble project and march to the Legislature to demand that Okorocha apologises to the citizens of the state for bringing this national shame and disgrace to them. We must not allow this mockery of our national values as typified by the action of the governor to spread to other parts of the nation and that is our fear as a labour centre. Evil has a way of spreading fast and it is our duty to contain it before it does.
“Once again, the ULC demands that Okorocha removes the ignominious name of Zuma from the streets of Owerri and the ignoble statue dismantled immediately to avoid our mobilising against it and pulling it down ourselves. We cannot allow a reminder of corruption and governance ineptitude to continue staring us on the face daily.
“In trying to honour Zuma, Okorocha has brought dishonour to his father’s land. Nigerians cannot allow this insult to stand. That Zuma statue insults our collective sensibilities as a nation and diminishes our national pride and must be pulled down now”.
Also, a civil society organisation, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, condemned Okorocha for not only directing an Imo monarch to confer a traditional title on Zuma but also unveiling a “giant” statue of the South African leader “in a conspicuous place in Owerri.”
The group, in a statement by its Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, noted that it was wrong of Okorocha to honour Zuma who had been indicted for corruption in South Africa in that manner.
It also expressed strong displeasure at the heroic treatment given to him by Okorocha, describing the governor’s gesture as an embarrassment to the All Progressives Congress, which was fighting corruption.
It wondered whether by so doing Okorocha was celebrating corruption, since “Zuma has been found guilty of corruption by courts in South Africa and has been ordered to refund the $500,000.00 stolen from the public treasury to expand his private house to accommodate his many wives.”
“Is Governor Okorocha not aware that Mr. Zuma has also been indicted for allowing an Indian family to influence the appointment of his cabinet members?
“In asking President Zuma to address officials of the Imo State Government, is Governor Okorocha not aware that the people of South Africa are currently demanding the resignation of a leader who has allegedly brought shame and dishonour to the country of Nelson Mandela?
“Is the APC governor not aware that South Africans are marching on the streets to demand ‘Zuma Must Go’ over his corrupt practices?”