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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Niger Bridge at 50: Eloquent testimony of a nation's unity


The Niger Bridge (also known as the Onitsha Bridge) sits majestically atop the River Niger connecting two major parts of Nigeria. With one end of its stretch, it touches the South South/South West, with the other it opens the door to the South East. Built in 1964/5 and despite moves by the government to complete a second Niger Bridge, the present one remains one of the most compelling testaments of the nation's evolution.

Particularly, the year 1964 saw the French construction giant, Dumez, embark on the construction of the Niger Bridge with the sole aim of linking Onitsha (Anambra) in the Eastern part to Asaba (Delta). It was reported that the cost of the bridge was put at £5 million.

The bridge provided the nexus of interaction, securing the privilege of movement from one axis of the country to the other. A few years after, the Nigerian Civil War broke out in 1967, lasting till 1970. Biafran soldiers, bent on halting the advancement of the Nigerian army, destroyed the River Niger Bridge at Onitsha, which ensured that they were unable to cross from the other side. After the war, the bridge was rehabilitated.
For many Nigerians who lived on the immediate divides of the bridge, its allure has held significant impressions on them.

"It brought a lot of goodwill to the East"
According to an Onitsha-based lawyer, Ifeanyi Onwuanyi, "the bridge is worth celebrating. In its own way, it brought a lot of development to the East of the Niger. It is strategically important to the economic growth within the Eastern region and what happens beyond Delta State.
"The bridge has helped in the area of transporting goods and services from this part to the South West. The bridge is very weak because this is the second time it will be going through renovation.  The government should ensure that all the necessary things needed to be used in strengthening the bridge are provided."

"It's one of the best things the East got"
Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Reverend Osita Ogwuaka confessed that the bridge was one of the best things to have happened to them in the South East.
"I was too tender when the bridge was constructed but I was told how people used canoes to cross over the river. It was tedious.  The bridge is of great importance to the people of the South East. It is one of the best things that ever happened to us," he said.
Ogwuaka, however, felt bad when the bridge started showing signs of weakness, just as he called on the government to do something speedy about the construction of the second Niger Bridge.

For Mr. Christopher Ike, "Now that we are celebrating the bridge, it is high time the Federal Government quickened the building of the second Niger Bridge because for some time now, we learnt that the bridge is sinking. The traffic that is daily seen on that bridge is enormous. If care is not taken, it will collapse and the resultant effect will be the economic life of the South East and South South. While celebrating the first Niger bridge, let's hope that the sister bridge is quickly completed."

"It unites us with loved ones"
Mr. Jude Oguzie, chairman, Onitsha Newspapers Distributors, Directors Association (ONDDA) maintained that the bridge has played a significant role in the history of Nigeria.
"That bridge has stood the test of time. Whenever the festive periods are here, we look at the bridge, hoping to unite us with our loved ones who are visiting. But the bridge is overburdened and it requires a lot of repair. The second bridge has to be quickly constructed," he said.
A veteran journalist, Sunny David explained to Nigerian Tribune that at the time the bridge was built, it was a source of joy to Nigerians especially people from the South South.

"No Niger Bridge, No Nigeria"
The Principal, Modebe Memorial Secondary School Onitsha, Sir Ralph Machi stated that "The Niger Bridge is Nigeria because it symbolises the existence of Nigeria. If there is no Niger Bridge, then there is no Nigeria. Before Abuja became the capital city of Nigeria, Lagos used to be the seat of government and the bridge was the only link between the Eastern, Southern and Northern regions. Nigeria would have been less developed if the bridge had not been there in the last 50 years."
Emeka Okeke, an insurance broker, said that the importance of the Niger Bridge cannot be overemphasised because it has been an important link between East and West routes.

"We called it the love bridge"
For Mrs Joy Ikenne, the bridge was called the 'love' bridge. Reminiscing, she told Nigerian Tribune that "When we were much younger and the bridge was newly constructed, some of us would trek on the bridge to meet our heartthrobs. They would come from the South South. It was a wonderful experience. There was no fear of robbery. It was just wonderful."
The earth-breaking of the second Niger Bridge as it is called was performed in March 2014 in Onitsha by President Goodluck Jonathan and it is expected to be completed in a year's time.

The last time rehabilitation work took place on the present bridge was in 2005 after the repairs in 1970, following damages on it during the Civil War.
During the 2005 rehabilitation work by the Federal Ministry of Works, it was discovered that many of the bridge's components were either stolen or vandalised and in replacing them it was noticed that some other serious structural failures had also occurred. These included a major shift in the bridge bearings, heavy corrosion of structural members, and extensive erosion of the riverbanks around abutments and piers at both ends of the bridge. The expansion joints at some locations were also not functioning properly.

The investigation also showed that the bridge could have moved. This affected the verticality of the rocker bearings such that the bearings were either outside their design limits or were close to their limits. It was, therefore, necessary at that time to realign these bearings to their correct positions for the prevailing ambient temperature.
In order to carry out the realignment, the bridge was jacked up sufficiently to release the existing rocker bearings thereby allowing them to be moved to their correct positions.
The fact that major works such as these were required to keep the bridge in use was an indication that the bridge might have reached its expiry date.
Moreover, the volume of traffic and the percentage of heavy vehicles crossing the bridge increased tremendously and vibrations hitherto not witnessed became obvious. To correct these failures, it was first necessary to clearly identify the causes of the observed failure on the bridge.

One significant observation during the 2005 repair work was that traffic flow for emergencies was maintained as access roads at both sides of the bridge with ramps were constructed while a ferry was also on hand to carry the vehicles across the river especially in the day.

In 2009/2010, a similar repair work was carried out on the facility, mainly to support pillars due to reoccurring vibrations.
But this time around in 2014, the Federal Ministry of Works has returned to the bridge for holistic repairs, due to series of abrasions noticed on it.
According to the Controller of Works in Delta State, Engr. Nwankwo Chukwudike, the purpose is to further strengthen and paint the truss in order to prolong its life and avoid rust on the bridge.
     "The work commenced in February this year and was designed for 12 months. It may exceed the stipulated time because of natural exigencies.The security situation is another factor affecting the job as one of the companies at site lost a staff who was kidnapped and killed," he said.
The work, Chukwudike said, has eased in preparation for the bridge to carry the weight of traffic this yuletide.

Until recently when the roads in Onitsha were given a facelift, motorists spent hours on the bridge, with security operatives such as police, soldiers as well as revenue collectors at the Onitsha end compounding the chaotic traffic situation.
The second Niger Bridge, with the associated access roads, is expected to link Onitsha and Asaba. The bridge which is 1,590 metres in length is being located I.7km downstream of the existing one.

According to its prototype, the dualised road leading to the bridge veers off from the Benin-Asaba Expressway at a point before the Asaba International Airport, crossing through Ibusa Road and straight to Amakon-Oko community on the Niger. On the Anambra end, the link road continues to Atani, joining the Onitsha-Owerri Expressway and beyond to Onitsha-Enugu Express road.
The new bridge and the connecting roads are expected to enhance the capacity of the South East/South West transport corridor and provide significant economy.
Above that, it will certainly decongest the traffic in Onitsha and Asaba.
The bridge, given different names such as: "Asaba- Onitsha Bridge', 'bridge of love', 'Transformation Bridge,' 'Azikiwe Bridge,' 'Goodluck Jonathan Bridge' is, however, to be completed in four years and according to President Jonathan, it would not be an abandoned project.
To put a seal on the project, the construction giant, Julius Berger was chosen among others to handle the work.
It emerged as the preferred bidder among five consortiums at the end of the evaluation process.
The construction cost is put at N117.8 billion including VAT sourced from the coffers of the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P).
The total width of the dual carriage bridge is 35.3m consisting of 16.05m wide 3- lane carriage way in each direction and 3,03m central reverse.
Also two underpasses categorised as secondary bridges are planned at Amakon village in Delta State and Atani roads with an interchange on Onitsha-Owerri road forming part of the project.

According to the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, who gave the details of the bridge, the project was being realised under private partnership model and as obtainable, the concessionaires would have the right to charge toll for the use of the bridge as well as have the full commercial right on the project right of way.

Like the observation of some motorists, one fact remained obvious about the bridge as President Goodluck Jonathan commences the construction of the second Niger Bridge 50 years after Nnamdi Azikiwe built the first one.
One of them who spoke on the condition of anonymity argued that "The two of them are Azikiwes. This is an eloquent testimony to the fact that both of them share a common spirit and ideology in daring to carry out projects which have scared many."
Already work has started as equipment have being moved to Oko community in Delta State by Julius Berger. Chukwudike said the access roads to the bridge location at Oko community are through to enable movement while Julius Berger has already set up its quality assessment laboratory and offices.
Speaking on the link roads, the Delta State Commissioner for Works, Funkekeme Solomon, said that the new bridge will open economic activities within the Asaba capital territory as well as ease traffic within the metropolis of the state capital, just as he urged Nigerians to be patient as the Federal Government moves to complete the second Niger Bridge.

Long road to Second Niger Bridge
Tribune - Monday, March 10, 2014

SULAIMON OLANREWAJU reports that with the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge taking place today, the people of the South-East region can begin to heave a sigh of relief, but it will be a long-drawn one because the  construction will last 48 months.  

WITH the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge today by President Goodluck Jonathan, the days of worry over the unsafe state of the Niger Bridge are definitely limited.

For a long time, the poor state of the Niger Bridge constructed in 1963 has been a major concern of Nigerians from the South-East region because the bridge, which is the essential link between the South West and the South East, and connects two large cities, Onitsha in Anambra State and Asaba in Delta State, has become a death trap having been withered by high volume of vehicular traffic over the years.

So, a second Niger Bridge has become a sine qua non for the continuation of business relationships among the people of the two regions separated by River Niger.  
However, efforts to get the new bridge going have been marred by politics. During the 1998/99 presidential campaign, building a new bridge across River Niger was one of the promises made to the people of South-East by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. To make good this promise, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, who was Minister of Transportation in 2007, said the Federal Government had concluded plans to award a contract for the construction of a second Niger Bridge. The government of the day went ahead to even have the foundation stone of the bridge laid on May 24, 2007, shortly before the expiration of its tenure for work to commence on the proposed N58. 6 billion, 1,760 metre, six-lane bridge, with a toll plaza fitted with modern gadgets.

However, work never did start on the project because the government had no intention to build the bridge. This became known later after the late President Umaru Yar'Adua came on board. Yar'Adua's Minister of Works, Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Hassan Lawal, while reacting to questions about the construction of the bridge, had told Nigerians that there was no existing plan by the Federal Government to build a second Niger Bridge. He hinged his submission on the non-existence of any legal contract for the project. But that government also failed to do anything about building the bridge.  
Nonetheless, the agitation for a new bridge continued.

During a recent visit to Anambra State by President Jonathan, he was asked when work would start on the bridge and he assured the people that it would be before March 17,  2014, when the tenure of the current governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, would end. However, seeing that Obi's tenure was nearing its end without any sign of work commencing on the construction of the bridge, a delegation of the state, led by the governor, Peter Obi, and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe paid the president a solidarity visit in Aso Rock last Tuesday and seized the occasion to ask when work would really start on the bridge.
In his response to their question, Jonathan said he would launch the construction of the bridge on Monday, March 10. He added that the launch was in keeping with his promise to the people of Anambra State and the South-East region.
According to the president, "The Minister of Works has briefed me that they have done a lot of mobilisation; we are coming to do real ground breaking ceremony of the second Niger Bridge."

The second Niger Bridge project is being realized under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, using Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) model, with the Federal Government contributing about 25 per cent funding. The concession period will be 25 years.
The bridge, which forms part of the Arterial Route A232; Enugu-Onitsha-Asaba-Benin-Shagamu, is 1,590m in length and located 1.7km downstream of the existing bridge on a new alignment.

To complement and add value to the second Niger Bridge, the Federal Government, with the support of the World Bank will commence the procurement and construction of two by-passes to the bridge. The first by-pass will be a connecting dual-carriageway from Arterial Route A232, Benin-Asaba Expressway, by-passing Asaba and its airport, to link the second Niger Bridge. The second by-pass will also be a connecting dual-carriageway from Arterial Route A232, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway to Arterial Route A6, Onitsha-Owerri Expressway by the new full Clover Interchange, which is a major part of the second Niger Bridge project, effectively by-passing Onitsha to link the new bridge.

In line with Mr. President's directive, the Ministry of Works commenced the procurement of the services of a transaction advisor and a concessionaire in December 2011, barely seven months after the inauguration of Jonathan as president on May 29, 2011. At the end of the due process to select a transaction advisor, Messrs Roughton International of the United Kingdom (UK) was picked on 24th August, 2012 following approval by the Federal Executive Council at its EC(2012) 135thmeeting of 30th July 2012.

As part of the procurement process for the concessionaire, five consortia were shortlisted and issued request for proposal. They are ARM Consortium, Bouygues Consortium, China Harbour, Matiere-Johnson Consortium, and Julius Berger-AIIM Consortium.
The prequalification process was regulated by the Public Procurement Act and Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission Act.
At the bid opening ceremony on 24th December, 2012, only three consortia made submissions. These are Bouygues Consortium, Matiere-Johnson Consortium and Julius Berger-AIIM Consortium. Messrs Julius Berger-AIIM Consortium emerged the preferred bidder after necessary evaluations of submitted proposals.

A letter of intent for the award of the concession was issued on 20th February, 2013 to Messrs Julius Berger-AIIM Consortium, now restructured as Julius Berger-Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (JB-NSIA) Consortium.
The Second Niger Bridge Early Works Phase I comprising survey works, morpho-dynamic study, soil investigations, etc commenced on 17th June, 2013 and lasted for a period of 30 weeks. It has been completed and the bridge design and cost finalized.
The total cost of the project has been negotiated down from N138,530,896,346.72 to N117,860,700,741.82 (VAT inclusive) and certified by Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). Of this amount, the Federal Government will be contributing N30 billion as its equity participation in the project's special purpose vehicle.

The BPP 'No Objection' certificate was granted on 17th February, 2014 for the construction of Early Works Phase II comprising aspects of main works and preliminaries. The scheduled works include general preliminaries, site investigations phase II, site clearance, earthworks and road works, main bridge construction (piling works), secondary bridges (Atani Bridge construction), infrastructure (soil storm water system) and temporary earthworks and road works (Asaba Access road, diversion at Atani Road and slipways).
The Second Niger Bridge is being realized under the Public Private Partnership model. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be jointly owned by Julius Berger-Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) Consortium and Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN); and as obtainable under the PPP model, the concessionaire will have the right to charge tolls for the use of the new bridge as well as have full commercial rights on the project's Right of Way (ROW). This will be implemented within the framework of the FGN National Policy on Public Private Partnership and Federal Roads and Bridges Tolling policy. Meanwhile, the existing Niger Bridge is to become the non-tolled alternative route for local traffic between Asaba and Onitsha.
Niger Bridge: Another jinx broken!

Today, Monday, March 10, 2014, President Goodluck Ebele Jona-than breaks yet another jinx in the South East and is by so doing, pulling himself and his political prospects deeper and more firmly into the hearts and souls of the illustrious and industrious people of the area. He is expected to fag-off the construction of the Second Niger Bridge between Delta and Anambra States, and would by that fact, not only open up a major link from the western and eastern parts of the country but bring a huge relief in the lives of a suffocating people.

This act would be a bigger replica of an act the president performed when on May 16, last year, he commissioned the Akanu Ibiam International Airport at Emene, Enugu. Both acts would have impacts that resonate well above and beyond what they look like on the surface. In May last year, President Jonathan broke an evil conspiracy, which successive leaders of Nigeria had dubiously erected against people of the South East - and to a large extent - the South South. By commissioning the international airport at Enugu, the president ended the unwritten embargo that had been placed on the people of the South East that none should travel outside the shores of Nigeria from their land. In other words, since the aircraft that fled General Ojukwu and other top Biafran military and civilian leaders out of the Biafran enclave from Uli Airport into exile in January of 1970, no other aircraft had flown in or out or had been permitted out from Igboland out of Nigeria. Presdient Jonathan changed all that with one wave of his ex-ecutive hand.

It had never mattered that Ndigbo are one of the most travelled people on earth, a policy enacted after the civil war by military leaders, who had declared that there were neither victors nor vanquished in the civil war, and kept tightly in leash through the conspiracy of all regimes - civil and military ever since - ensured that nothing would happen in Igbo land that would 'ex-pose' them to the world. There would be no international airports, no power stations, no seaports, no major federal infrastructures like good roads and water links - in fact, it was resolved that for 50 years or more, Ndigbo would be kept in socio-economic and psychological bondage. The policy was not only implemented in all the sectors with gusto but was often executed with such wickedness and callousness that beggared human understanding, even to the extent that some leaders allowed the economy of the entire country to suffer obviously, if only to ensure that Ndigbo were kept in the prescribed doldrums. Some of the aspects of life were targeted more prominently, especially by the more vicious among the leaders. It took the arrival of an Air Vice Marshal Canice Umen-waliri, as the Communications Minister un-der the short-lived post-Abacha regime of Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, for the entire South East and large section of the South East to be put on talking terms with the out-side world when Umenwaliri hooked it up to the world by connecting the people to a digital telephone network. 
Before then, the whole of the South East and Midwest had been placed on an archaic single analogue exchange (with the limited exception of Enugu, which Mr. Austin Otiji, as the NITEL boss, had squeezed out of the authorities) while other parts of the country, which hardly needed it were enjoying the copious benefits of digital telephon. It had meant that when a businessman at Aba, Calabar, Owerri or Onitsha needed to make an international call to his many partners outside Nigeria, he had to travel to Lagos or Kaduna to make the call. It took the dogged determination of Umenwaliri to compel the head of state to allow him digitalise communications in the South East and South-South, thereby breaking that significant jinx. Before Jonathan 'struck' in May last year with an international airport at Enugu, every Igbo person, who needed to travel abroad had to travel to Lagos, Abuja or Kano; it is no wonder today that the Ethiopian Air-lines, which flies in and out of Enugu is said to be fully booked for months on end. Even though the people look forward to having many more international airlines, operating from Enugu, what is already happening has become a soothing balm on peoples' hearts. And with the obvious determination of the Jonathan administration to do what is right for all the people of Nigeria, it would not be long before the Enugu airport proves to be the most profitable and the most patronised in the country. 

If opening the airport, which caters mostly to the privileged members of the society was so much hailed, one wonders what would be happening in the minds of the people over the relief, which is on the way over the flag-of of the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, which will take place today and which the president has assured would result in the no-stop work of the bridge till it is completed. The current suffering, which Nigerians have been subjected to with the use of the current narrow bridge that was opened in December 1965, as one of the last acts of Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on earth (he was killed during the first ever military coup on January 15, 1966), has been unimaginable. It is really heart-rending to recall many personal experiences, which I have had on that bridge but which pale into insignificance when compared to the harrowing experiences of Nigerians, who are compelled to use the bridge on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, as their socio-economic routines demand. There have been instances of people dying while stranded for hours, if not days, on the bridge. Women are said to have given birth there. Just as many frail hearts have been broken on that bridge, huge sums of fortunes have been lost or wasted. To make matters worse, there are hardly any detour alternatives for those who need to use that old bridge that sits across Asaba and Onitsha. Onitsha, the erstwhile commercial headquarter of Nigeria, has become manifestly diminished by the inconveniences, which the old dysfunctional bridge has continued to pose both to its inhabitants and those who patronise the activities there. The tension, the anger and dislocating frustration, which have become the second nature of Onitsha can easily be traced to the frustration, which the life on the bridge engenders. And yet, nobody was prepared to take action.

For years on end, the people were deceived with fake and fancy stories about the intention of the successive federal governments to build a second and even a third bridge to relieve the people from their plight. All manners of lies, fake promises and subterfuge have been erected by previous administrations, merely to keep the people in the dark over what was a deliberate diabolical policy of the central government against its own people. That it did not matter to the successive governments at the centre that the condition of the Niger bridge gateway, which equally serves other parts of the country beyond the South East people that are being punished for Biafra, has been equally constituting great inconve-niences to those other Nigerians, who were not also "guilty" of the civil war, simply gives an inkling into the callous mindset of those who have been governing Nigeria and who lined up the other day to receive Centenary honours for their 'great deeds in leadership'.

To make matters even worse, there have been those who had rubbed the fact of their being a defeated people into the face of Igbo people. In May 2007, and only a few days before he left office,President Obasanjo made a show of commissioning the flagoff of the construction of the Second Niger Bridge at the Asaba end. The outgoing governor of Delta State, Ibori, and the incom-ing short-lived governor of Anambra State, Andy Uba, were accomplices and partici-pants to that fraud with which Obasanjo rubbed insult into the injury of the people over whose defeat in the civil war he had never stopped gloating over. The people were expectant that their plight would soon be over until Governor Peter Obi later alerted the nation that there was neither a contract nor a plan for the bridge; in other words, Obasanjo had led the people through another episode of frustrating deceit. With the coming of President Jonathan and in spite of the huge opposition, which he has been facing by those who are against him because he is bent on fulfilling his promises to liberate all parts of Nigeria from the bondage under which they had been placed by their leaders, things are becoming remarkably different. He has it clearly seems - to have distanced himself from the wicked policies of his predecessors, which have kept Ndigbo under into a pressure cooker. And why not; for while campaigning in 2011, Jonathan had told Igbo voters that "I am one of you". With what is happening today, there are few remaining doubts that he is not going back on those words, as it seems that for him the responsibility of building the Second Niger Bridge does not only have a political ramification for him; it seems to have a spiritual one too.

At Onitsha in August 2012, I was present when he addressed some members of Anambra political elite, after commission-ing the Onitsha River Port and the start of oil explorations at Aguleri. President Jonathan spoke emotionally about the fate of the Niger Bridge. He recalled that the first Niger Bridge was conceived and built by President Nnamdi Azikiwe as the (ceremonial) first president of Nigeria and that it was built with five million pounds then. He vowed that it was incumbent on him, as someone who had been given the name of "Azikiwe" by his grandfather, to build the second Niger Bridge, for what it means to the people both on the practical and psychological levels. He further vowed that if he did not embark on building that bridge before leaving office, he would go on exile Since that pledge, those who understand the way governments work as well as those who are aware that the Executive Presidency of Nigeria has been constitutionally erected, as one of the most powerful in the world, became aware that the president could not have spoken in vain in that regard. Those who reason became aware that for the Second Niger Bridge, hope had risen for the first time. 

The fact that the president is finally flagging it off today is the coming to age of that risen hope. It is clear that before today, a lot of clean water had run under the bridge. A lot of preliminary work was said to have been done both by the giant Julius Berger, Nigeria's famous bridge builders, to mobilise its equipment and personnel to the site. A lot much more has happened at the level of sourcing for the funds in order to ensure that once the project starts, it will not stop till it reaches its completion. The fact that the president is coming to flag it off personally shows that not only is he committed to all the promises he had made about the bridge, there is the unspoken fact that all the funds for that bridge are intact.

When President Jonathan commissions the start-off of the bridge, he will have kept most of his promises to the people of the South East, who are not used to asking for mere hand-outs. The South Easterners, who consider themselves very able at every point, merely demand to be shown the fishponds and the roads to them. They can do all the fishing by themselves. That is why the bridge, the airport and reconstruction of their federal roads and infrastructures, which the federal government is embarking upon under the Jonathan administration are very welcome and heart-warming to the people. That President Jonathan has become a dear friend and kinsman of the South East is becoming very obvious by the day. It will show more amply in 2015 by which time it will be obvious that he has earned that friendship and brotherhood on concrete platforms, not platitudes.
Jonathan kicks off N117 billion Second Niger Bridge project

• To be completed in four years under BOT

• Orji, Obi, Uduaghan, Achebe laud action

HISTORY was made Monday at the commercial town of Onitsha, Anambra State, as President Goodluck Jonathan did the groundbreaking of the Second Niger Bridge linking the eastern part of the country with the South-South geo-political zone.

Meanwhile, South-East governors, their counterparts from the South-South and other eminent Igbo yesterday commended Jonathan for kickstarting the project...

Coming almost 49 years after the commissioning of the first Niger Bridge by former President Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1965, Jonathan promised that the landmark project being executed by Julius Berger would be completed in four years at a total cost of over N117 billion.

He told the guests at the ceremony who included host Governor Peter Obi, Ebonyi State Governor Martin Elechi and Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan; Minister of Finance and the Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen; the Obi of Onitsha Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe and a host of others that the project will be executed under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement for a period of 25 years.

However, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu and his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, were absent at the ceremony.

President Jonathan said: "The first Niger Bridge was commissioned by President Nnamdi Azikiwe and the second will be built by the second Azikiwe. The second bridge is being built almost 49 years after the first. This will alleviate the congestion on the first Niger Bridge, especially during festive period. The bridge will improve road traffic between the South Eastern part of the country and the rest of the country."

Jonathan remarked that he was only out to fulfill his electioneering promise way back in 2007 when as a vice presidential candidate, he came visiting Anambra on a campaign stump and promised to build the bridge.

Jonathan noted that the bridge is key to economic transformation of the country, adding that when completed, would improve commercial activities in the South-East and the South western part of the country.

He observed that government has made a proper arrangement for the financing of this major infrastructure, and government would provide about 25 per cent funding for the project.

The President thanked Anambra State Governor Peter Obi and his Delta State counterpart, Emmanuel Uduaghan for showing committed interest in the project, adding that he would rely on the support of all Nigerians to ensure the speedy completion of the bridge.

He appealed to the in-coming Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, to show the zeal and commitment exhibited by the out-going governor towards the project.

Also speaking, Minister of Finance and the Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, explained that the project would be 60 per cent equity and 40 per cent debt, adding that the financing model being proposed would be a template for the development of economically viable projects in the country.

According to her, the financing structure put in place by government would facilitate speedy completion of the project.

Okonjo-Iweala who described the existing Niger Bridge as a bridge of love, stressed the need for the country to build more bridges that would close our historic divides, and connect communities and the entire country together.

Onolememen explained that the concession period of 25 years through Design, Build, Operate and Transfer (DBOT) model will obtain for the bridge which on completion will be 1,590 metres long, and forms part 11.90 km length of the entire project.

The minister said that the bridge will be located 1.7 kilometres downstream of the existing bridge on a new alignment and consists of two Number equal end spans of 40 metres, 15 Number equal intermediate spans of 55 metres each and two Number intermediate spans of 90 metres each, 3 Number navigational spans of 150 metres each.

He added that the total width of the dual carriageway bridge will be 35metres consisting of 16.05 metres wide three-lane carriageway in each direction and 3.03metres central reserve, adding that two underpasses categorised as secondary bridges are planned at Amakon Village and Atani Roads with an interchange on Onitsha-Owerri Road forming part of the project.

He said: "The second bridge is being realised under the PPP model. The special purpose vehicle will be jointly owned by Julius Berger-Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Consortium and Federal Government. And as obtainable under the PPP model, the concessionaire will have the right to charge tolls for the use of the second Niger Bridge as well as have full commercial rights on the Projects Right of Way."

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chairman of the South-East Governors' Forum and Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, described the flag-off of the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge as the flag off of the process of retaining President Goodluck Jonathan in office in 2015.

Orji noted that President Jonathan has made history, and is leaving behind an indelible legacy in the sands of time.

He said: "This Bridge is very significant to the South-East. We have been discussing how to retain the President, and today is the flag off of that process of retaining the President. The President should have confidence in the South-East because you are doing what you ought to do and we would ensure that you are retained come 2015."

Also speaking, Obi noted that by flagging off the 2nd Niger Bridge project, President Jonathan has made the South-East to be part of Nigeria.

He said: "We will over-pay you in 2015 because you have turned around the country and everybody is proud of Nigeria. When they conceived this bridge earlier, they said Anambra and Delta states would pay counterpart funding of N10 billion each but President Jonathan removed it. The fake flag off was done and we did not know the contractor, but we are happy that a 1st class construction company is handling the project. It took President Jonathan for us to give Odumegwu-Ojukwu a befitting burial; Nigeria did not bury Zik the way he deserved to be buried. They even promised us a Mausoleum and have not built it. The construction of the bridge means rebuilding Anambra State and the Igbo land and making us part of Nigeria".

In his remarks, Uduaghan observed that there is a South-South, South-East co-operation going on, and that the bridge is very significant to the people of the South-South and the South-East. He, therefore, requested that the bridge be named Asaba-Onitsha Bridge.

He stated that the President that is flagging off the construction of the bridge would also commission it in four years time, adding "he who cook food go chop am, abi no be so? Our wish is that President Goodluck Jonathan who flagged off this bridge today would also commission it in four years' time in Jesus name, Amen".

Uduaghan observed that the Delta State government would ensure a peaceful environment for the execution of the project.

For Achebe, the existing bridge and the new one have a significant impact on the lives of all Nigerians and not just the South-East as it connects the East and the West, the North and the South.

While calling on the Federal Government to ensure the payment of its counterpart fund, the monarch assured that Anambra State would provide enabling environment for the contractor to execute the project.

Also speaking, former Senate President and Chairman of the Board of Infrastructure Concessioning and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Ken Nnamani, said that new bridge when completed would boost economic activities in the South-South and South-East as well as the entire country and reduce travel time.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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