A renowned Nigerian professor and columnist, Pius Adesanmi, and other Nigerians have criticized Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha for honoring South African President Jacob Zuma.
Mr. Zuma, who visited Nigeria this past weekend, was honored with a statue in Owerri and was bestowed a chieftaincy title of Ochiagha, a high honor in Igboland. A road in Imo State was also named after the South African president.
Nigerians on Twitter condemned such honors, stating that it was inconsiderate for a government to use its funds for honoring a foreign president facing corruption charges while workers in the state are owed salaries.
How worse can it get?— Adewale Adetona (@iSlimfit) October 15, 2017
Despite owing workers, Gov. Rochas spent 520M to erect statue of South African president Jacob Zuma in Owerri
It has been reported that the statue cost Imo State N520m, but SaharaReporters was unable to independently verify the report. There are also unconfirmed reports that the Imo State government is planning to unveil six more statues of African leaders.
If you think building Jacob Zuma's statue was outrageous, wait until Gov. Okorocha unveils the statue next to Zuma. It may be Nkiru Slyvanus pic.twitter.com/8KLwpKZukp— Dr. Njakiri Damages (@DrDamages) October 15, 2017
Other Twitter users criticized the honoring of Mr. Zuma given the poor treatment of Nigerians living in South Africa.
In one tweet, Mr. Adesanmi said Mr. Okorocha should have taken the South African president to the graves of Nigerians shot to death by South African police.
Jacob Zuma in Nigeria, bags chieftaincy title in Imo. He should have been taken to the graves of Nigerians shot by South African police.— Pius Adesanmi (@pius_adesanmi) October 14, 2017
Nigerians living in South Africa have been targets of xenophobic attacks. Most recently, a 25-year-old Lagos State native was shot and killed near Johannesburg.
Mr. Zuma has faced criticism for remaining silent on the matter.
The South African president is also under fire for allegations of corruption and abuse of power in his ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Three days ago, the the South African Supreme Court of Appeal reinstated 783 corruption charges filed against Mr. Zuma before he became president. One of the charges is related to a $2 billion arms deal arranged in the late 1990s.
Mr. Zuma was also heavily criticized at home for the purchase of a Boeing 747 believed to have cost South Africa about $400 million.