Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide says the completion of the Second Niger Bridge by President Muhammadu Buhari is ‘a promise kept’.
Ohanaeze’s position was made through its national publicity secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, on Friday.
According to the pan-Igbo group, the bridge is ‘a key national infrastructure, with immense socio-economic benefits not only for the contiguous states but for the entire nation’.
Quoting Ogbonnia, “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 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.”
Ohanaeze regretted that administrations before Buhari ‘used the Second Niger Bridge as a bait on the Igbo, especially during the political campaigns’.
The group went further that, “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.”
Ohanaeze therefore thanked President Buhari to have completed the bridge, noting that, “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.”