Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha Friday responded to widespread comments on the possible fate of the statue of the former South African president Jacob Zuma following his recent resignation, arguing that he was still an inspiration and thus would have his statue remain erect.
In October 2017, the Imo government erected a statue of the former South African president in Owerri, the state capital, attracting widespread criticism owing to the mounting corruption allegations against Zuma as well as the unchecked incidence xenophobia attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
Following Zuma’s forced resignation amid allegations of fraud, some Nigerians had asked the governor to remove the statue.
But in a statement by Sam Onwuemeodo, his chief press secretary, Okorocha insisted that the statue remaining erect was justified.
He said the statue was erected when Zuma was in power and not after he left office and that the former leader also resigned “honourably.”
“On the Jacob Zuma’s statue in Owerri and the resignation of the man few days ago as president of South Africa, the statue will not be pulled down,” the statement read.
“The statue was erected when the man was a sitting president. We should also be keen in his life story.
“For instance, a man who didn’t receive any formal education but rose to play a major role in the freedom of his people and also became president of one of the leading African nations calls for sober reflection. He also resigned honourably.”
He added that following Zuma’s condemnation of the killing of Nigerians in South Africa, “the situation came under control to a large extent”.
The governor said the former South African leader did not come to the state “for politics” but came “to partner Rochas Foundation College for Africa.”
“And even after his departure as president, he would still go ahead to make his contributions to the education of the less privileged children in Africa,” he said.
“And whatever Okorocha has done in Imo, he has done so for the good of the people.
“Imo people have seen our monumental achievements and have also read criticisms against us. But seeing they say, is believing and not reading.”
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