THE recent budget release by the Federal Government was expected to feature some monetary allocation for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge started by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, but unfortunately the allocation for the construction of the bridge is missing. This has elicited torrents of reaction from stakeholders in the Sout-East. Here are some of them.
2nd-Niger-BridgePresident of Onitsha Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture, Mr. Uche Apakama, in his comments said, “I just want to believe that the information is not quite true that not capturing of the 2nd Niger Bridge in the 2016 budget, means it has been abandoned, this is because it will be ridiculous the Federal Government would have forgotten such a sensitive and important project for the people of South East and South South and Nigerians in general.
“I want to assume, a big assumption that it is in the budget, but per adventure is not there, it can’t be explained to anybody, because we do not have the budget breakdown, we just heard about the big figures, we do not have the different allocations, so we do not know the details of those allocations and therefore they should tell us what happened.
“It will be a total disservice to Ndigbo, South South and Nigeria in general to abandon the bridge, I was listening to the Presidents first Media Chat where he asked who are marginalizing the Ibos and how, he asked that question and this issue of alleged abandonment of 2nd Niger Bridge is one example of his government marginalizing Ndigbo, if it is true.
“Abandonment of that bridge is one of the basic and clear instance of marginalization of the Ibos, we have only one access to leave the Ibo land for the West, it takes up to four or five hours to pass through Niger Bridge to enter Asaba approach of the bridge, we are suffering getting down here, to access our home land is almost impossible, very difficult, because of the single lane in the direction of the Niger Bridge as constructed, let us not even say that the Bridge is weak, even the volume of traffic it carries can no more suit the bridge like we have in the festive period of Christmas and New year,” he said.
Apakama, a pharmacist, also stated that “we have a four year project period, we are waiting and are expected to wait for four years, hoping that in four years time, even though we have questioned the four years project period which is too long to complete the bridge because you do not use four years to build such bridge if it is properly funded, yet they are coming up with the plan of abandonment, if it is PPP funded, that is where Julius Berger will have to source its funds, it can be completed within a forty eight month period.
“We seem to have been forgotten by the Federal Government in a country that we are part of, what happened last time with MASSOB and IPOB challenges are all part of the problem of marginalization.
In South East, we have a lot of things we are talking about that need to be addressed, we do not have appointments, no problem, we are still surviving, but things that belong to us like this bridge, government must show commitment, and show us that they are sincere about the issues concerning South East and the South South.
“I want to believe that the project is in the budget, if it is not, it is unfair for us not to have that bridge completed, it is unfair that one year will pass again and the bridge is not captured in the budget and therefore nothing will be happening there, it should be in the appropriated budget, it should not be in the supplementary budget, it should be the concern of the Federal Government of Nigeria that South East and South-South are not cut off from the rest of Nigeria.”
For his part Chief Ozoh Anaekwe, a former President General of Onitsha Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has shown Nigerians and the world that he is anti-Igbo with the abandonment of the 2nd Niger Bridge project, I am telling Igbo leaders to rally round and tell the world, especially, Europe and America, the new friends of the present government, the condition President Buhari wants to place Igbo in Nigeria.