Following a shouting and apparently misleading headline now making the rounds in Nigerian newspaper (including the Vanguard) and the social media that work has resumed at the site of the second Niger Bridge project our crew went to town.
It was discovered that there was no one in site at the construction yard of the contracting firm-Julius Berger Ltd, handling the project. Only few security men who guards the almost abandoned site were seen milling around.
When approached for situation report on the project, they rebuffed enquiries and instead simply stated that none of their bosses had been to the location in months, and that other construction hands were all laid off nearly two years ago when funding of the project stopped during the regime of the Goodluck Jonathan.
One of them actually expressed fears that from all indications their own jobs were not even secure again.
Other nearby residents, led by Chief Charles Ebunam said they were embarrassed by the deluge of enquiries pouring in in the last few days concerning the state of the project.
But when they were told it came from a media report attributed to a serving Minister, they described the report as the figment of the imagination of the author and his/her sponsors.
Again, they saw as laughable the claim that the bridge was to serve South East and South South zones, “..,because though the people of the two geo-political zones make use of the route, it actually links the entire nation. The people of South West comes in and out of South East and South South through it, while the people of the whole North-North Central, North West and North East make full use of it daily into and out of the South East and South South zones since the two Enugu routes(Enugu/Onitsha and Enugu/PH) have been literally closed down in the last five years.
They wondered why reporters of today hardly investigate any sensational claims before going to town to mislead the world and embarrass their reputation. Whoever authored such news report could best be described as an armchair journalist who was either lazy, mischievous or paid to mislead the people.
Chief Ebunam emphasized that no single soul has visited the project site in many months let alone saying that people were flocking there for employment. “That is scandalous and irresponsible!”, he stated angrily.
Though the Anambra state Commissioner for Information/Communication Strategy and his Works or Transport counterparts failed to respond to repeated telephone calls or text messages to their phones, a director in the state Ministry of Works who pleaded for anonymity dismissed the report in the Saturday edition of a named national daily. He saw it as one of the lies of the era.
According to him, “we are not doubting that the Federal Government is interested in the completion of the project, but the truth is that nothing is presently going on at the site.”
He wondered where the funding could have come from at this moment when the 2017 budget was yet to be screened or approved by the National Assembly. “Or do they want to tell us that the construction company suddenly want to use their own funds, or the refund of the earlier expenses which we learnt the FG paid after years of no action.”
The director also admitted being aware that the report was a re-transmission of a media comment by an aide to the Minister of Labour and Employment. It was not a direct comment from the Minister.
But suffice it to note that in a recent interaction with a broad spectrum senior media representatives, in his Uruagu Nnewi countryhome the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship favourite and party’s National Auditor, Chief George Moghalu disclosed that work would soon resume on the second Niger Bridge and in fact on all such abandoned federal projects in the state. Some of these projects include the Enugu/Onitsha Federal Highway, Enugu/PH Federal highway, Zik’s Mausoleum as well as the extension of rail-line down to Onitsha amongst others.
According to him, he saw it as a clear hand of fellowship by the APC-led federal administration of its good intention to the zone, and to signpost what would come in the nearest future. That the party means well and would fulfill all its campaign promises to the people of the zone. That it would stand the APC out as a political party committed to the welfare of every section of this blessed country.
After all the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) ruled for sixteen years without any landmark project or achievement in the zone for its overwhelming support.
Moghalu had beat his chest to declare that the APC administration shall transform and change the face of Nigeria, especially Anambra state with the execution of all abandoned projects of the previous administrations.