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Okorocha to unveil Awolowo, Obasanjo, Ekweme's statue and several others

After unveiling the statues of two African presidents, Jacob
Zuma of South Africa and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia,
Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha is set to unveil 10
more statues.
Even though his actions had generated lots of
controversies, Saturday PUNCH learnt on Friday that the
governor would soon unveil more statues.
Our correspondent visited the Ikemba Ojukwu Centre in
Owerri, Imo State capital, where the statues were erected,
but security men didn’t allow him to enter.
However, a top Government House official told our
correspondent that Okorocha was set to unveil statues of
former President Olusegun Obasanjo; a former Vice-
President, Alex Ekwueme; a former Senate President, late
Evans Enwerem; and the first civilian Imo State Governor,
Sam Mbakwe.
According to the source, others whose statues would soon
be unveiled are those of the first Nigerian President, Dr.
Nnamdi Azikiwe; former Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa;
late sage, Obafemi Awolowo; and Ghanaian President,
Nana Akufo-Addo.
The source said that of Akufo-Addo would be unveiled at a
ceremony when he visits the state soon.
The government official said the idea of unveiling the
statues was to celebrate leaders, who had through
“selfless efforts” contributed to the development of the
state, Nigeria and the African continent.
The source said, “The governor is interested in celebrating
those who have contributed to the development of
mankind, especially on the African continent. In the years
to come, these leaders will be no more but their statues
will keep them evergreen in the minds of the people.
“With the statues, they have been inducted into the Imo
Hall of Fame and have received the highest award in the
state called the Imo Merits Award.”
When asked how much each statue cost the state
government, the official said they were not as expensive as
people were exaggerating.
“It is not as costly as people had exaggerated. Though I
don’t know the exact amount, the government cannot use
about N500m to erect one statue. It is not possible. The
governor is a prudent manager of resources,” he said.
Meanwhile, a former governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim,
has criticised Okorocha for spending state resources on
building statues.
Ohakim, who handed power over to Okorocha in 2011, said
that his successor had impoverished the people and failed
“comprehensively” in terms of leadership and development.
He said, “Should I praise Okorocha because civil servants
now receive half of their salaries instead of 100 per cent?
Should I praise his government for owing pensioners for
over 30 months and recently issuing dud cheques to them?
What exactly are those good works for which I was
supposed to be showering praises on the governor?
“The fact is that no right-thinking Nigerian can praise
Rochas. Our biggest industry, education, is in a free fall.
Youth unemployment has risen to an unprecedented height.
Executive promises are discarded like used napkins like the
promise of conducting local government area election,
which has been made eight times but discarded eight
times.
“Quality and due process have been relegated to the
background, leading to an unmitigated infrastructural
disaster like roads collapsing within 90 days. There is also
a deliberate strategy to destroy our judicial system.
“Court orders are hardly obeyed, judicial quarters are
bulldozed with recklessness and as of today, judicial
officers are being owed 11 months’ salaries, while
monuments costing hundreds of millions of naira are being
mounted for foreign dignitaries and whereas our children
are killed in their countries.”
Similarly, a group called the Igbo National Council said it
was a show of shame by the Okorocha administration to
have erected Zuma’s statue in the state.
INC also said that the naming of a street in Owerri after
Zuma was unfortunate.
INC President, Chilos Godsent, told Saturday PUNCH that
South Africa, in recent times, had recorded the “wanton
killing of many Igbo youths who are doing business or
working in South Africa in the name of xenophobia.”
He said, “Zuma cannot be said to be a Nigerian or an Igbo
patriot; he has not contributed in any capacity to the well-
being of Imo State indigenes or the Igbo.”
INC said the INC was, therefore, calling on Okorocha “to
immediately reverse the naming of a street in Owerri after
Zuma and dismantled his statue.”

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