On Thursday 20 May, Nigerians were shocked to see videos online showing the Akachi Tower in Owerri being demolished. There were speculations that the action must have been ordered by the newly sworn-in governor, Emeka Ihedioha.
The Tower was built by the last administration as a tourist attraction and only recently commissioned by VP Yemi Osinbajo, but appears not have been well received by the indigenes.
“The monument”, according to The Nation, is “a massive tower with the symbol of a hand on the Zenith, representing the hand of God, sits on an expansive plot of land, reserved for religious purposes.”
The public reaction was fast and furious. Many thought it was too early in the life of the administration to go on a demolition spree; others thought rather than being pulled down the tower could have been remodelled or converted into another use.
“Rochas may have wasted public funds on needless statues but he built the Akachi tower in Imo as a tourist site.if anything should go down,it should be those statues and not the tower,” tweeted Umar Sa’ad Hassan.
Solex Casa tweeted: “On Ihedioha and pulling down the “Akachi Tower” — Wrong! Wrong!! Wrong!!! Yes, everyone knows that Rochas was terrible but mehn… that’s some serious tax payers money right there. Looks more like mans on a vendetta mission.”
As expected, tourism stakeholders thought losing the statue was a major setback for a state — and a country — struggling to pull tourists into both Imo and Nigeria.
“Contrary to reports emanating from Owerri, the Government of Imo State has no hand in the pulling down of the gargantuan Akachi statue near Aba Road, Owerri,” a statement signed by Steve Osuji, Special Adviser (Media) to the Governor, reads. “In the same vein, government seizes this opportunity to warn Imo people to desist from unruly behavior and remain law abiding as anyone caught breaking the law would be prosecuted.
“It is interesting to note that the Akachi statue is a massive monument of a hand pointing heavenwards and rising about 50 feet into the atmosphere. Not many in Imo quite understand the significance, if any or importance of the Akachi statue, one of the baleful legacies of out-gone governor, Rochas Okorocha.”