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The Second Niger Bridge

The Second Niger Bridge is a metaphor of sorts for the relationship between Ndigbo and the
Nigerian State. The first bridge was built in 1965 (Azikiwe was president and Nigeria was
governed by a coalition of Azikiwes NCNC and Bellos NPC). That was the last time Ndigbo
had serious leverage in the corridors of power. Efforts to build another bridge have been
marred in controversy. A long list of Nigerian leaders: Gowon, Murtala, Obasanjo, Shagari,
Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abubakar and Obasanjo (again), either flatly refused to do the
bridge or made a mockery of the process.
As far back as the 1970s, it was clear the existing bridge could not meet up with increased
traffic volumes. Enemies of The Second Niger Bridge (and there are many powerful people
among them) normally counter with this: but the first bridge was built in 1965, it was not
reasonable to expect another bridge in the 1970s. That argument falls apart when you
counter it by telling them Julius Berger commenced construction work on the Eko Bridge in
1965, and since then, other bridges have been built in Lagos.
There is another nonsensical argument: Igbo leaders are responsible for the bridge. For
many years it was accepted on face value, but it is evil, cynical falsehood designed to deflect
responsibility for non-delivery of the project.
First of all, we do not elect Igbo leaders to head the Federal Government (the body
responsible for delivering such projects). Secondly, nobody claims that Yoruba leaders are
responsible for the Third Mainland Bridge or that Hausa-Fulani leaders are responsible for
the Kaduna Refinery. Thirdly, the bridge is not an Igbo bridge (as opponents of the bridge
project have tried to label it, with considerable success since 1970). It is a strategic National
project, linking people from non-Igbo states like Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Benue, Cross
River and Bayelsa to other parts of Nigeria.
After a long period of delays, false dawns and dashed hopes, the former president,
Goodluck Jonathan, decided to do something about that project (and international flights
from Enugu). However he went about it in his usual timid and lethargic manner (while
expediting action on the Kaduna to Abuja standard gauge railway).
Julius Berger and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority are two main bodies
responsible for the delivery of the project. There are detailed engineering drawings and there
is a funding plan. However, there are some issues. One is the environmental impact
assessment. This should not be considered as a show stopper, because projects with
much bigger environmental impact like the Mambila dam and the Eko Atlantic City have
gone on.
The more serious issue is the issue of compensation and the bridges approach. This is not
unheard of in major engineering projects. In some projects, excavation leads to significant
archaeological discoveries. As a consequence, paths are re-routed, and the project
continues.
These issues have been eagerly advanced by enemies of the project as a ready justification
to suspend the project. First we heard a series of wild allegations by a certain APC
governor, but these allegations were disproved by Uche Orji, the CEO of NSIA.
The latest attempt to cast doubt on the viability of the project comes in the form of a poorly
written article by a hired Quisling. In it he claims that toll fees would range from N2, 000 to
N7, 000. My biggest worry is not the fact that he wrote such patent nonsense, but that
otherwise intelligent people would go to town with the unverified ramblings of a charlatan
without first clearing with NSIA or Julius Berger.

In the era of body language, there is little evidence of passion by the Buhari administration
for that project. First his 97% versus 5% soliloquy inspires little confidence. Secondly, in his
previous jobs as military head of state and PTF chairman, he showed little interest in that
project.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a new generation, not the Ohaneze
generation. A generation that is less likely to either plead or cry marginalization. A
generation that is in danger of listening to a demagogue who will easily point to projects like
The Second Niger Bridge and say; I told you so.
This generation is not interested in whether you want to use that bridge to discredit
Jonathan and Igbo leaders. However, they will hold you (whoever controls the Federal
Government) responsible for delivery or non-delivery. They will not to beg you to build the
bridge. They will demand for it.
They are not interested in comments like you did not vote APC, so dont expect that bridge.
Many of them are in private business, they dont depend on government, and so diverse
threats are likely to be shrugged off.
Their attitude is: do your worst.