Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for promising to complete the second Niger Bridge and keeping to his promise with its opening to traffic for the yuletide season.
This position is contained in a statement by Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, which, while acknowledging the joy of the people at the salutary development, urged the President to use his “remaining few months in office to pursue some other transcendental objectives which will write his name with gold in the sands of time.”
However, President emeritus of Aka Ikenga, a frontline Igbo organisation, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said that very useful as the new bridge is for the present, and grateful as the people who would be using it are, there are major omissions that can only be remedied by the construction of a third Niger bridge sometime in the future.
According to him, the absence of the rail lines and gas pipelines components, which he said were part of the original concept of the bridge and which would have made it even more useful to the entire country, is an issue that must be considered by a future government.
The statement by Ohanaeze Ndigbo reads in full:
OHANAEZE NDIGBO APPLAUDS BUHARI OVER SECOND NIGER BRIDGE
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide applauds President Muhammadu Buhari for keeping to his promise; that he will complete the Second Niger Bridge before the expiration of his tenure. The Second Niger Bridge is a key national infrastructure, with immense socio-economic benefits not only for the contiguous states but for the entire nation. The clamour for a second Niger bridge became necessary shortly after the Nigerian Civil War. The first Niger Bridge was commissioned in 1965 and shortly after, the Nigerian civil war broke out in 1967. The bridge was therefore not exempted from the devastating effects of the war.
The second Niger Bridge has been a major concern to the Igbo for over fifty years because of two major reasons; apart from the traffic lock jam on top of the bridge, the greatest fear was that the bridge had evidence of cracks such that the stress of weights on the bridge could collapse all the vehicles and their contents into the River Niger with untold consequences.
Based on the general clamour for a Second Niger Bridge, the former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, in 1992, challenged the Nigerian Engineers to come up with a design of the second bridge. It was believed that upon completion, the bridge will ease traffic flow, allay fears, improve road safety and create greater road user confidence among the commuters.
Several administrations had used the Second Niger Bridge as a bait on the Igbo, especially during the political campaigns. When President Buhari promised that he will complete the second Niger Bridge, not many believed, especially when he could not conceal his lopsided political appointments and other resource allocations against the South East.
On assumption of office as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador Professor George Obiozor in company of several APC government officials on February 6, 2021 visited the site wherein he enthused that the “people of the Southeast would continue to be grateful to the present federal government for hearkening to the needs of the Ndigbo”.
A few days ago, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), disclosed that “the Second Niger Bridge would be open to traffic from December 15, 2022, to January 15, 2023, to ease the experience of travellers during the Yuletide break”. And now, we are almost there. Surely, President Buhari did not start the work on the bridge, but in a maladjusted society where the abandoned projects far outnumber the completed ones, to deliver a vital infrastructure that should have been taken for granted attracts immense jubilation amongst the Igbo.
While the Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Obiozor heartily appreciates Mr President on the Second Niger Bridge, it is hoped that Mr. President will use the remaining few months in office to pursue some other transcendental objectives which will write his name with gold in the sands of time.
Dr, Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
Chief Uwazuruike’s reaction in full:
Yes, and we, those who have any reason to cross the bridge, are grateful. Those who have reason to cross the bridge from Delta state can be heading to any of the following destinations
Anambra, Imo, Rivers, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Taraba, Benue and (Southern) Adamawa states. The bridge is vital to any business coy operating nationally. The oil and gas business group will always appreciate the bridge.
The original concept took into account a cheaper system of human and goods transportation. This is why it had rail lines. This was in compliance with the Rail Master plan in Nigeria.
The other omission is the absence of the Gas master plan in the bridge construction. The original gas master plan had a provision for huge gas pipelines to move by the side of the bridge. The huge gas deposit in Izombe, Imo State is actually a short distance from the bridge.
The omission of the Rail Master plan and the Gas master plan in the bridge construction means that another bridge will be built by a future government.
Once more, we who ply that bridge are appreciative.