On Sunday, Rochas Okorocha, Imo state governor, came under intense criticism over a statue he erected in honour of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
The gigantic statue was unveiled as part of activities marking Zuma’s two-day working visit to Imo.
What really is the angst of Nigerians? Many wondered why the governor, who is said to be owing salaries, would spend millions of naira on such craft. Unconfirmed reports tagged it at the worth of N520 million.
But is Okorocha the first person to unveil such statue for a foreign leader? Not at all.
In October 2013, Emmanuel Uduaghan, then governor of Delta state, unveiled a statue of former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
The unveiling was done alongside the siting of the Mandela Garden in the state.
However, in the case of Delta, Uduaghan was not directly involved in building the project.
It was an initiative of Newton Jibunor, an international environmentalist, though with the governor’s support as well as that of the Mandela family and Olufunsho Amosun, wife of Ogun state governor.
“We are highly honoured that a monument of this magnitude is being done for Nelson Mandela in this state. Indeed we are honoured,” Uduaghan had said at an event to mark the unveiling.
The garden, according to Jibunor, was created to honour Nelson Mandela’s selfless service to mankind.
Jibunor had also said it was another opportunity by his non-governmental organisation — Fight Against Desert Encroachment — “to showcase the importance of environmental conservation and promote a culture of social, educational and environmental well-being”.