Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo state, says he erects statues of African leaders to preserve history which is “dying in Africa”.
Okorocha said this in Owerri, Imo capital, shortly after unveiling the statue of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, on Friday.
He described the first female president in Africa as a pride to the continent
“I erect statue to immortalise people so that children yet unborn can know about them. History is dying in Africa, we must keep it alive,” he said.
“In the next 100 years, most of us would not be alive but this will stand for children to see. If leaders are not immortalised, there will be no history for children.”
On her part, Sirleaf said the honour meant so much to her. She thanked Okorocha, saying the gesture would go a long way to inspire women and girls.
“I am simply so filled with joy. I don’t know what to say. This is an honour that I have not received elsewhere. I have received so many things but this is quite exceptional,” she said.
“My alma mater, Harvard University, honoured me with a statue but it was not like this. There weren’t people like this and it was just a little one in a corner.”
The Liberian leader was also conferred with a chieftaincy title.
Three weeks ago, Okorocha unveiled the statue of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. This sparked outrage but the governor dismissed his critics, saying he had no apology.
Zuma’s 30-feet statue was said to have cost N520 million. It is not clear how much Imo government spent on the artwork of Sirleaf.