Commendations poured freely for President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday at Onitsha as he formally commissioned and handed over the 2nd Niger Bridge linking Asaba and Onitsha to the people.
It was also an opportunity for the President to commission other projects initiated by his administration like Lokoja-Oweta Bridge in Nasarawa/Benue States, Ikom Bridge in Cross River State, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, Federal Secretariat in Gusau, Awka, Yenagoa in Zamfara, Anambra and Bayelsa States.
President Buhari spoke virtually at the official commissioning/handover of the 2nd Niger Bridge linking Asaba and Onitsha in Delta/Anambra States, at Bridge Head by Toll Plaza Area, Asaba-end on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
From Governor Chukwuka Soludo (Anambra), Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Governor Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the Asagba of Asaba, Prof. Chike Edozien, President Buhari was lauded for keeping to a promise he made regarding the second Niger Bridge when he was campaigning to be President.
An elated Governor Uzodimma did not only say that President Buhari is his hero, but noted that he could not hold his tears of joy over the commissioning of the bridge given that previous administrations in Nigeria merely played politics with it with the people.
“For years we cried over the bridge when governments came and left. Even when we did not vote for him, he remembered the promise he made and the suffering of the people. Every society that wants to make progress must have heroes and President Buhari will remain my hero,” Uzodimma said.
Governor Okowa who was represented by his Chief of Staff described the commissioning as a promise made and kept by President Buhari. He said the economic benefits of the brand new bridge cannot be quantified.
Governor Soludo said he was overjoyed and that the South East will remember President Buhari with the bridge as he leaves office, because of the “catalysing effect it would have on the economy and wellbeing of the people.”
Both monarchs – Igwe Achebe and Prof. Edozien – summised that posterity will be kind to Buhari for the second Niger Bridge as a “parting gift” in the words of the Asagba of Asaba who was represented.
President Buhari said that his government had concentrated on renewed infrastructure, fighting poverty, creating job opportunities, women and youth empowerment as well as fighting corruption.
“I am not unaware of the stock of debt of the nation but which are tied to infrastructure. These are bridges of connectivity and integration across NIgeria.”
The President further said that “the 2nd Niger Bridge will serve as major stimulants to the local economy and as an easy way of doing business, connecting states are well as boosting the economy of the Nation.”
He appreciated the Governors of Delta State and those of the South East for their cooperation and for giving the contractor a conducive atmosphere to deliver on the project.
Earlier, Governor Uzodimma explained that the 2nd Niger Bridge is not only linking Delta and Anambra “but also a link between the old Eastern region and old Western region and outside world, as well as the main economic area between the people of South East and the neighboring zones.”
Governor Uzodimma added: “Today we are celebrating a man that came and made it a reality despite our inability to vote for him when he came out as the President of Nigeria. He is the one that made a promise and fulfilled it. Successive governments before Buhari’s administration paid lip service to the completion of the bridge, even though the Igbos did not vote for him.”
President Muhammadu Buhari is a great man and my hero and I feel elated that 2nd Niger Bridge is named after President Buhari as President Muhammadu Buhari 2nd Niger Bridge. The people of the Southeast would continue to be grateful to the present federal government for hearkening to the needs of Ndigbo.”
Also, Governor Soludo said his heart was full of joy to witness the commissioning, noting that “history is being made today in the South East.”
“The people of South East have agitated for five projects, the construction of 2nd Niger Bridge is one of them and the people of South East are hoping that the remaining four will be completed and commissioned by the incoming administration,” Soludo added.
He thanked President Buhari profusely and said that “history will be fair on him,” just as appreciated the Contractors for a job well done.
Also in his goodwill message, the Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige said that, “today is a great day when we all have gathered together because this bridge meant a lot to all South East.”
Ngige said that “since 1965 there has been need to construct the 2nd Niger Bridge because people of the area have been suffering excessive traffic congestion hence the need to construct 2nd Niger Bridge.”
The Labour and Employment Minister thanked Mr President for fulfilling his promise and emphasized that he has lifted a lot of loads from those of them who are working in his government.
In his remarks, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola appreciated President Buhari for the completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge and other critical projects, informing that though he has worked with other past governments, “that of President Buhari is exceptional.”
Fashola also said that the South East Governors unanimously agreed to name the bridge after President Buhari.
The representative of Julius Berger, the contractor handling the project, said the company was honoured to be part of the success story of linking the South East to other parts of Nigeria.
He informed that the bridge is 3.6 kilometers with dual carriage of 1.6 kilometers each which was awarded on July 25, 2018, commenced work on September 1, 2018 and completed work on October 31, 2022 with contract sum of N206,151,693,014.87.
He thanked the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Delta and Anambra States and the host communities for creating a conducive environment.
Among the personalities who witnessed the virtual commissioning were the Minister of States Education, Rt Hon Goodluck Opiah, the Minister of State, Mines, Chief Henry Iko, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Secretary General Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof Okey Emuchay, Chairman of Imo Elders Council, HRH, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, array of high ranking traditional title holders from Delta, Anambra and some members of the expanded Executive Council of Imo, Anambra and Delta States.
Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor