Nigerians were jolted by the news that the Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, played host to the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, who was on a state visit to Owerri.
Apart from his spending state scarce resources on the carnival like reception of the South African leader, the governor was reported to have erected Zuma’s gargantuan statute in the state capital.
While Okorocha’s lieutenants have laboriously defended his action that hosting Zuma was to advance business relationship between Imo business community and South African investors, the open public outrage against the governor’s action has yet to abate.
Apart from erecting Zuma’s humongous statute, the South African leader was also conferred with the highest honor of the land!
Okorocha’s action came at a time when Nigerians, including South Easterners, were being daily slaughtered in xenophobic South Africa with none of the culprits ever being brought to book.
Some South Africans, who commented on the honour done their leader, were uncharitable to both himself and the Nigerian leadership. They found no reason why such honour should be accorded a leader who has been enmeshed in scandals and allegations of corruption and merely concluded that only a country that celebrates sleaze would find Zuma fit for honour.
Okorocha and his guest brought serious opprobrium to the leadership of the country which has been working assiduously to salvage the image of the nation among the comity of nations. Honoring Zuma, in whose country Nigerians are treated as second class citizens, may be seen as an endorsement of the criminal murder of our citizens by the authorities in South Africa.
Again, critics are of the opinion that a state currently struggling to pay workers’ salaries should not indulge in wastage of scarce resources when there are serious developmental projects waiting to be executed.
Meanwhile, the governor and his handlers have said that his critics would be put to shame when the dividends of his state honour to Zuma would begin to yield fruits. Nigerians are waiting and earnestly watching to see the quantum of South African investments in Imo state at the end of the day to justify the millions of Naira spent on playing host to the South African leader.