“We have chosen to identify with this great leader who meant well for his people, who had to toil, struggle and fight for the liberation of his people, not minding the consequences thereafter. This to me is courage. This to me is strength of character. Very importantly, Mr.President, you are a man with uncommon history. One who never saw the four walls of a classroom and who in the course of struggling to liberate his people, lands in prison for 10 years and still counting”
These were words of Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha after visiting South Africa President, Jacob Zuma was honoured with Imo Merit Award in Owerri, Imo State.
Okorocha said Zuma was honoured in Imo State for his love for education though he was deprived of it in his early days in life.
“Your love for education to us is the connection between you and government and the people of Imo State. The only industry we have and we can truly be proud of is education in Imo State. This is another reason why we have chosen to honour you” Okorocha was quoted to have said as contained in a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemedo.
Zuma had earlier said after receiving the award ” I m so passionate about the school established by Governor of this State and saw children coming from all over Africa, and the majority of countries who are here because whoever they were, their future would have been silent and adamant. They come from difficult situations, many of them orphans. I have learnt a lot from my brother , His Excellency, the governor of Imo State and had discovered more than I think I know about these emotions, about empowering the African Child and signing the coming together of our foundations influenced by the desire and need to empower the African child”
Zuma’s visit to Imo State has sparked fierce reactions from opposition forces in the State who are furious on the cost of hosting a leader of a foreign country.
The unveiling of a statue in honour of Zuma further precipitated widespread condemnation mostly on the social media with many quoting unsubstantiated amount of money used in ercting the statue of the South African leader.
An opposition leader and a member of Okorocha’s All Progressive Congress, APC, Hon.Uche Onyeagocha had told the visiting South Africa leader to return home to face corruption charges as announced by his country’s Supreme Court.
An aide of Governor Okorocha, Nnamdi Obiareri faulted the APC chieftain claims, saying Zuma is corrupt free having not been pronounced guilty of corruption charges yet.