By Chidi Obineche
A choking uproar seized the huddled masses in Nigeria and South Africa in the week after a bronze statue of Jacob Zuma, the bubbly South African president flecked the skies of Owerri in pulsating motion.
It was an edifying gesture of honour from Rochas Okorocha, the feisty governor of Imo State who as elective kindred spirit of Zuma had erected it in treasure-sake for sealing a sweetheart pact of their private foundations. The statue stands in great awe and admirable majesty in the embryonic Heroes Park and likely to be decked among the greats and pantheons of our land. It is as beautiful as the one that Praxiteles the Greek made of the god Apollo.
The governor’s garden upstate began a few weeks to this ponytailed buzz which has been assessed at N520 million, a slush amount capable of whittling down the finicky obligations of salaries, pensions and gratuities of ‘my people, my people’. And this big dance is outside other sundry costs associated with what unarguably should be private fanfare. In Howard Jacobson, an iconic writer on effigies, we learn that “Most people to whom a statue has been erected are undeserving.” Whatever passion, challenges or even infamy that yoked the duo together, whatever voyage that rocks their souls, whatever rolls of intrinsic star-gazing that birthed this effigy erects a vast canvas of atrocious trifle in an increasingly atrophied economic clime.
It surely freaks out many hearts. A puny, puerile rationale in the heat of the stir, basking in all pedestrian elegance was like clay cemented together by blood and tears and hardened in the fires of indifference, persecution and celebrative elation. Okorocha has morphed from a firebrand visionary to a status of projecting a raven statue of a spittle rack man with over 800 charges hanging on his neck. A similar statue of Zuma in the land of his birth has been an object of dirty cracks, porn and derision as it left the president’s genitals exposed.
In the instant case, the governor may elect to ride the tide with indignity because he is called to be bold. He has to hold his head up in his moment, listen to his true heart because he knows more than he is saying, thinks more than he speaks and should notice more than he realizes. Thomas Paine, the English philosopher and novelist tells us that the “real man smiles and grows brave by reflection.” This will be the real glitter in his veins because ugliness screams better under klieg lights. He has eaten an oyster and in all errors makes a dozy. Dancing with the stars can be tight and snarky but a czar will always invent his way out. He has scored the bull’s eye in a cavalier manner by making the mundane fabulous and seeking to make it sublime. Sometimes it is the mundane that awakens wonder.
A well paved road is comfortable to walk on but no flowers grow on it. He has a passion for the shock- value, a breathless addictive alignment with intense amazement and a burning aversion for the routine. He also needs to know that a spark can set a whole forest on fire even with the best of intentions. He allows himself to dance with the tickles, the same way the ocean dances with the moon. Today, he is caught by the pull of the unremarkable, the indecent, the ignoble and cozily nourishes the classic beauty of excitable trivial and an obsession with pedantry.
Born on September 22, 1962 in Ogboko, Ideato South Local Government Area, LGA of Imo State, He attended Juladaco High School, Jos (1976 – 1981). Between 1990 and 1991 he was at the University of Jos where he bagged a diploma in Public Administration. He returned to the University of Jos between 1993 and 1994 and obtained an Advanced Diploma in Public Administration. He was the president of Nigeria Red Cross Society, the President/ Founder Rochas Foundation Inc and Pro- Chancellor, African Business School among others. He became governor of Imo State on May 29, 2011 and was re-elected for a second term on April 11, 2015. He is married to Nneoma Nkechi with six children.