The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide on Friday commended the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for keeping to his promise on completing the Second Niger Bridge before the expiration of his tenure.
Ohanaeze in statement on Friday, following the temporary opening of the Second Niger Bridge to motorists during this yuletide, said that bridge is a key national infrastructure, with immense socio-economic benefits not only for the contiguous states but for the entire nation.
Ohanaeze in the statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, said that the clamour for a Second Niger Bridge became necessary shortly after the Nigerian Civil War. The First Niger Bridge was inaugurated in 1965 and Nigerian war broke out in 1967. The bridge was therefore not exempted from the devastating effects.
Giving insights into the second Niger bridge, Ogbonnia said that it had been a major concern to the Igbo people for over fifty years because of two major reasons: “apart from the traffic lock jam on the bridge, the greatest fear was that the bridge had evidence of cracks such that the stress of weights on the bridge could cause collapse of all the vehicles and their contents into the river Niger with untold consequences.”
The statement partly read, “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 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 remarked that the ‘people of the South-East 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 so, it has come.
“Surely, President Buhari did not start the work on the bridge, but in a country where the abandoned projects far outnumber the completed ones, vital infrastructure that should have been taken for granted are celebrated.
“While the Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Obiozor immensely 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.”