No nation built on nepotism and sectionalism archives her full potential. Infact most promising states around the globe have imploded in the past, under the enermous weight of their iniquitous history full of tribalism, favouritism and grand injustices. This is so, because for the people of any given country to come together and galvanize their collective abilities towards modernizing their state, there must exist a sense of nationalism, patriotism and a common purpose. This can’t happen when it has become a government policy to marginalize, antagonize and deprive a certain section that contributes immensely towards the economic growth of the country, her fare share of national projects and recognitions..
A case in point here is the over dramatized Second Niger bridge. In the history of this eternally convulsing amalgam, no project has been so dramatized, so politicized and so unashamedly utilized as a political football by the close minded political class in Abuja, at the detriment of the welfare and greater economic activities in the South East and the South South regions. The drama started way back during the military era, when the aging bridge built by the then Eastern government in the 50s, started to show signs of wear and tear. This bridge was bombed during the Nigeria – Biafra war and was extensively damaged as a result of the endless skirmishes there. For a long time, the bridge has been the only shaky link between the former Eastern Nigeria and the rest of the country. With the economic activities going on in such wonderful places like Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt, Owerri and the rest, the enermous economic importance/impact of this bridge can not be over emphasized..
It’s against this backdrop, that one is overwhelmingly alarmed at the disdain with which the federal government has carried on with this project over the years. Firstly, under Babangidas administration, a drawing of the bridge was made with plans for a rail crossing. But nothing happened as it rgards construction proper. Obasanjo came in and only laid the foundation stones few hours to his abdication of office in 2007, which was basically nothing but a taunt” to those who considered the bridge an essential project to them! The plan for the rail lines over the bridge was also shelved. Jonathan did start the project but suggested a partnership between the construction companies, the state government and the federal government as it regards the funding. Then came Buhari, whose administration saw the second Niger bridge as the most convenient project to use as a balancing act for his brazen but shameful display of bigotry and classic igbophobia.
The bridge will now have almost a dozen Toll Gates!! This will be the first and only project built under any administration since the coming of civilian rule in 1999, that will demand that those using it will pay for all bills incurred during construction! Ofcourse, it’s mainly the people of the South East. There are many projects in the North being handled as we speak, by the federal government that have bigger cost outlays when compared to the second Niger bridge but whose total cost are shouldered entirely by the federal government, even if it means borrowing! A good example is the nearly One trillion Naira Abuja – Zaria – Kano road. Infact, Nigeria has gone on to borrow billions of dollars to erect highways and railways and pipelines to Niger republic, another country! Nigerians as a people will collectively pay for these projects in another country, while the South Easterners, who are going to be the main users of The second Niger bridge, will pay through their noses for EVERY cent used to build that bridge!
“Fellow Nigerians”, Is this fair??