So, Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha decided to build a monument for his friend - South African president, Jacob Zuma.

It didn’t matter that Zuma has no historical affinity with Imo people, nor did it even matter that he stands accused of massive corruption in his country.

It also didn’t matter to Okorocha that Zuma is struggling to remain a president, having just recently survived a vote of no confidence, because of the baggage he carries.

None of these deterred Okorocha from spending a whopping 520 million naira of tax payers’ money to build a statue of his friend.

At a time Nigeria is facing serious economic setback, there is no way to rationalize that expenditure.

There are a million and one ways the fund used to build the statue and host Zuma could have been properly used.

Here are some of the ways the fund could have been better channeled for the benefit of Imo people and Nigeria at large.

Access Road For Rural Communities:

A substantial number of Imo people live in rural areas where they endure poverty. Most times, these rural dwellers are farmers who depend on their agricultural produce to earn a living. Their greatest hinderance is always the lack of access roads to take their farm produce to the towns where they can get real value.

A good access road then becomes the gulf between them and improved standard of living.

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Road construction is capital-intensive but the 520 million naira that Okorocha spent on Zuma’s statue could have built at least a 2.8 kilometer of asphalt road without drainage at 180 million naira per kilometer.

This doesn’t look like much but it will make a ton of difference in the lives of communities where these roads pass through.

Construction of Drainages:

If there is any infrastructure that the people of Imo, at least residents in Owerri city desperately need at the moment, it is drainage in their city.

Just last month, flood sacked the residents of the city, destroying properties worth millions of naira.

The half a billion naira that Okorocha spent on Jacob Zuma’s statue may not have sorted the drainage problem of Owerri completely, but it certainly would have gone a long way to help.

Empower Entrepreneurs:

Small business owners have always been touted as the engine room of the economy. They are the ones who create jobs. Let’s assume that Rochas did not consider a monument for his friend a priority, and he decided to give a grant to small and medium enterprises, SMEs in the state.

If he decides to give 1 million naira each to the beneficiaries of the grant, that would be about 520 entrepreneurs getting the much-needed help to get their businesses of the ground, and imagine the ripple effect that would have on job creation in the state.

Offset Salary Backlog:

You may not know that Imo state is owing 3 months’ salary arears for year 2016. The month of October is halfway gone, but the state has not paid September salary.

This is besides mounting pension debt obligations.

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Who says this more than half a billion-naira spent on a statue could not have gone a long way to offset some of the salary arears, so that Imo workers don’t work in vain?

Certainly, the Imo State government needs getting its priorities right.

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