Pulling Down The Altar Of Baal
In Imo

By Collins Ughalaa
3rd June 2019

"Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it" (Judges 6:25).

According to the Bible, the nation of Israel had derailed from God’s requirements. Each time they did so God had them punished by handing them over to a heathen enemy nation. As a merciful God, each time the people of Israel turned towards him and cried to him in penitence, he would forgive them and send someone to deliver them. The people would behave well for some time. It appears the people behaved well as long as the man whom God used to deliver them was alive. On this particular instance, God had used the Midianites to exert punishment on them. Again, they cried unto God, but God said they would have to do more than crying to him this time around.

God raised Gideon as their deliverer, but he told him to do something special: "Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it" Judges 6:25. God had decided that being repentant was not sufficient anymore, that something more had to be done.

God had answered our prayers and delivered us, yes. But he wants us to do much more than being penitent. He has raised Governor Ihedioha, but we have to do something more. We must work out our salvation. The government should pull down the Akachi statue. Imo people loathe it.  

On Thursday, May 30, 2019, barely 24 hours after the swearing in of Governor Emeka Ihedioha and his Deputy, Hon (Engr.) Gerald Irona, the social media became abuzz with the news of a bulldozer hacking down the gigantic Akachi statue erected by former Governor Anayo Rochas Okorocha. Akachi is an Igbo word, meaning The Hand of God. The speed with which the story travelled and the enthusiasm it garnered was symptomatic of the desires of the people to see the structure go down so soon. Imo people were glad that it was going down.  

Though all eyes had turned to the government as the people behind the hacking of the structure which was recently commissioned by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo recently, the state government quickly issued a statement distancing itself from the demolition. As it stands no one is certain whom the statue-hackers were, but what we get from the government’s statement is that they are too busy now to even contemplate such act. We believe them.

But that was not the yearning of the people. The government should listen to the people and do their bidding. That is the only way democracy would be seen to be the government of the people, by the people and for the people, truly. Most people in Imo State want the Akachi statue hacked down. The Akachi statue was one the talking points during the campaigns for the governorship election. The people had demanded that anyone who became the governor of the state must as

of duty to the people who own the mandate hack down the statue. That is their wish.

But why would the people want the Akachi statue that cost the government millions of Naira to erect hacked down? I think this story might suffice: As a child, we were told the story of a man who raped his daughter. He was brought before a Judge and he was asked to state why he did that abominable act. His answer? We were told that the man removed his suit and shredded it. He removed his trousers and shredded it. Removed his shirt and every other thing on him and shredded them. Stunned, the Judge asked him why he was behaving very strange. He said no, that he was normal. The man asked the Judge: “Can you ask me why I shredded my suit, trousers, shirts, and all? Were they not my own?” They Judge answered that he could not ask him why because they belonged to him. The man asked the Judge again: “The girl they said I raped, is she not my daughter? Does she not belong to me?”

While this narrative does not justify any heinous act, the point is that the Akachi statue does not belong to Owelle Rochas Okorocha. It belongs to the people of Imo State. Now the owners of the statue don’t want it standing anymore. They want it hacked down. Since the time the statue was erected it never resonated with the people. They never wanted it and they have never hidden their dislike of the statue. That is why the people don’t throng there. And if people don’t visit the place it is no longer a tourist attraction but a waste of the people’s resources and space. Beyond not liking this worthless sculpture, Imo people fear that charms and other diabolical objects were buried there. Some even reach the unreasonable height to claim that an undisclosed number of virgins were buried there. They believe that hacking the Akachi statue down would mean their liberation and nullify whatever was done there.

Apart from the Akachi statue, Imo people want the Freedom statue hacked down. Freedom statue is located at the busy Warehouse Junction, or Orlu Road Junction. Former Governor Okorocha had also built what he called Freedom Square at the same junction. But the problem with the Freedom statue is that Imo people believe it is a lie. They believe that it is the symbol of the deception with which the people were held down for eight years.

Governor Okorocha had also erected the Freedom statue as a symbol of what he called the liberation of Imo State. But you would ask, liberation from what? Imo people are predominantly Christians and are not known for taking or keeping slaves. The Ikedi Ohakim government which Okorocha succeeded in 2011 was doing very well. So, the question remains, from what or whom was Okorocha liberating Imo State?

The point is that having been declared Governor in 2011 Okorocha continued with the series of propaganda he had unleashed against the Ikedi Ohakim government. He was doing all he could to make sure that nothing, not even a good name, remained of the Ohakim era. That was why as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2011, Okorocha had sold the crap that Imo State was jinxed and needed to be rescued. To hack down the Freedom statue alongside the Akachi statue will therefore liberate the people from the falsehood upon which the immediate past government was built and sustained.

Some people might argue that millions of Naira was spent erecting these worthless statues. But the poser is this: did Governor Okorocha not demolish structures – buildings, shops and markets - worth more than the statues both in monetary terms and in cultural affinity? Did Okorocha not pull down the Ekeukwu Owerri Market amidst resistance, leading to the death of 10 years old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi? Can anyone compare the markets and buildings demolished under the Okorocha government with these statues in any ramification?

Apart from the fact the demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri market dislodged the market, it cost the traders and shop owners so much in monetary, sociological and psychological terms. Many people lost their businesses. Many died. Many of those who did not die have not survived the demolition of the markets. Some are still running from banks who had issued them credit facilities not long before the demolitions. Many people were forced to return to their villages and begin from the scratch all over again. While Imo people suffered the pains, supporters of Governor Okorocha held him up as someone that had the political will to do whatever he wanted.

Okorocha’s bulldozer did not stop at Ekeukwu Owerri. In Mgbidi, the market was demolished. Eke Atta Market was demolished. Old Market, Owerri, was demolished and the traders displaced. Mechanic Village was demolished, Amaraku Market was demolished, Orji Market was demolished, et cetera. The worth of these markets was over N25bn.

Now, back to Akachi and Freedom statues, how much are they worth? Would anybody suffer any loss when they are demolished? There are no businesses around these statues. They are worthless in terms of economy, tourism, etc, and they need to go down because they represent falsehood and bad governance. They have not contributed a Kobo to the state economy.

Collins Ughalaa could be reached via email: ughalaacollins@gmail.com, or via telephone: 07066222944.

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