•US ambassador commends gov’s developmental strides
From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has said he owes nobody any apology for erecting a statue of South African Republic President Jacob Zuma, in the state.
Okorocha had, on Sunday, October 15, 2017, unveiled a giant-sized Zuma statue, but his action was immediately greeted with widespread condemnation.
Some critics accused him of frivolity.
However, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha said the gesture was to honour and appreciate Zuma, whose visit was “principally to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Jacob Zuma Education Foundation and Rochas Foundation College of Africa.”
The governor also said he is ready to erect more structures, if that is what it would take to bring investments to the state.
“And, in case these “Galatians” do not know, if all we need to do to attract good things or investments to Imo state is erecting statues, then, we have no option than to erect as many of such structures as possible.
“We owe no one apology. Rochas made a promise to open the doors of Imo to the rest of the world for good, and he is doing that and we cannot be deterred by these enemies of our people.
“If it were in the days of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), schools and markets would have been shut down, and roads closed because president Zuma was coming. But, none of such things was done because Rochas and his government have human faces.
“The PDP, for the 12 years it held sway, never attracted any meaningful visitor to the state, except PDP NEC members, who came to loot the state.”
Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington has commended Okorocha’s developmental strides in the state.
Symington said this during a visit to Okorocha in Imo state.
The envoy said he came come to the state to see things for himself, having heard good stories from some of his colleagues who had earlier visited the state.
Symington, who spoke at the Government House, said he was attracted to the state when some of his colleagues told him stories of the governor’s heavy investments in education and infrastructure, and added that he has been able to confirm the information with what he had seen himself.
“In leadership, I cannot understand anything more important than security, education, unity and political understandings. All these should be the focus of any leader, who really wants to better the lives of his people.
“The problem faced by most nations including America and Nigeria is how the leaders of tomorrow are being trained to ensure that our nation is guaranteed. Focus should be redirected to the training of youths to become great leaders of the future,” the ambassador said.
In his response, Okorocha, said: “We do have special love for America and we believe that there are lots we can do together. I have been having conversations and meetings with many diplomats and even Heads of States on ways to better the fortunes of my state. My little discussion shows me that there is a connection between us and you mean well.
“I see sincerity of purpose in your heart concerning the way you spoke about things that concern my people and discussing with you on the need to see America’s presence in my state. You were quick to advise that Nigeria and America’s partnership will be a good thing to start from Imo state. I beckon on you, on our industrial park. Many states might propose industrial park but there is no state that is better located than Imo because we are the headquarters of gas in Nigeria. So, I thank you for directing your commercial attaché to take note of that.” This gives me a great sense of relief that this my dream of partnership with America might be coming to fruition soon.”
Okorocha thanked the US government for consenting to the transportation of Africa produce like yams, potatoes and tomatoes from Imo state to the country.
He said: “You must know that we have a programme for the youths of our dear state. We have come to the realisation that the youths of Nigeria and Africa are frustrated and it is incumbent on us to give them a sense of belonging economically and otherwise.
“We have even gone as far as making one youth a millionaire in each of the 305 wards of the state, by giving them N1million each and tutoring them, with the aim of breaking the jinx of poverty and giving them hope of being better in future.
That is the idea of how the youths are dear to our hearts. We need to give our youths exposure in enlightenment, and not necessarily money. We will like to create a programme, where youths of Imo state will travel to America and interact with your youths and discuss issues on how they can develop themselves,” Okorocha said.