Going by the reason cited by the Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state, Nigeria, these Africans leaders are more worthy of the statue than President Jacob Zuma.
Nigerians have been known to cherish leaders from other African countries that have impacted on the welfare of their people and contributed to pan-Africanism.
The level of controversy that trailed the unveiling of the statue of South African President, Mr Jacob Zuma, by Imo state governor, Mr Rochas Okorocha, is as a result of the belief by the people that there are more worthy African leaders than Zuma.
“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.” said Mr Okorocha.
Many Africans, including Nigerians, believe the remark made about Mr Zuma is best suited for these leaders.
Here are five (5) African leaders whose statues would have meant more to Nigerians.
1. Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara was the idealistic leader of Burkina Faso and commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”.
It is on record that he led the rebirth of his country, Burkina Faso, and pushed for development of Africa by Africans. A man who was far ahead of his time, Sankara pushed for equality for women in all spheres of society and participation in the political process. His refusal to seek help from Bretton Woods institutions and develop his country’s economy without foreign aid was remarkable. He died in October 1987, when he was killed.
Many Nigerians would have been elated if it was his statue that was unveiled on Sunday, October 15, 2017, which marked the thirty years of his assassination.
2. Jerry Rawlings
Jerry Rawlings also falls within African leaders whose ideas are cherished by many Nigerians, and he is usually a reference of who Nigerians want as their leader.
Rawlings led the transformation of Ghana, a neighbouring country of Nigeria, to an enviable position among the comity of states in Africa and around the world.
The current welfare and improved economic activities in Ghana today can be attributed to Jerry Rawlings. As such, Nigerians would have loved to have the status of the great pan-African leader.
3. Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah was another great man who fits into the position of African leaders, whose statues deserved to be erected in Nigeria. He provided support for Nigerian nationalists fighting against the colonial rule in Nigeria and made Ghana a home for many nationalists that were running away from the persecution of their colonial masters.
Dr Nnamdi Azikwe said about Kwame Nkrumah during his visit to Eastern Nigeria in 1959: “It is a very special pleasure to us, because Dr Nkrumah is not merely the Prime Minister of Ghana, but is an outstanding pioneer in the fight for the freedom of a sister nation in West Africa. We who are battle-scarred and are now on the verge of attaining our statehood and who eagerly await the great day, 1st October 1960, when, God willing, our dreams shall be realized, have been especially emboldened by the tenacity of purpose of Dr Nkrumah and his immortal comrades to make Ghana free. Indeed, Ghana’s independence is the successful accomplishment of their lives’ mission.”
To many Nigerians, it is someone of this pedigree that should have his statue erected in Nigeria.
4. Julius Nyerere
Julius Kambarage Nyerere is in the class of African leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta, Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah. He fought for development of his country, Tanzania and used every opportunity at his disposal to call for an end to colonialism in Africa.
On October 25, 2016, the Senate called for inclusion of the struggles of Julius Nyerere and others pan-African leaders in the history curriculum of Nigeria.
To Many Nigerians, Nyerere’s statue would have added more value to the course of pan-Africanism and shows value for the money.
5. Muammar Gaddafi
The late Libyan strongman, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, would have stood a better chance of having cheers from the people if it were his statue that was erected by the Imo state government.
To many Nigerians, Libya was a second home for seeking greener pasture .