By Izunna Okafor, Awka
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, commissioned some of the mega projects done by his administration in Anambra State.
The projects, which include the Second Niger Bridge, Onitsha, and the Federal Secretariat Complex, Awka, were commissioned in absentia by President Buhari, making it the second time the President is commissioning projects in the State in absentia in less than one week.
The President had, on Friday, last week, commissioned the Permanent Site of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, where he was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Ekumankama Nkama.
Barely four days after that, President Buhari, on Tuesday, also commissioned the two recently-completed federal projects in the state in absentia, against all expectation of his physical.
It would be recalled that President Buhari last visited Anambra State in 2019 when he came to solicit votes for his second tenure office, which will be expiring in less than one week from now. Hence, expectations were high that the President would, in this eleventh hour to the end of his administration, be physically present in Anambra to commission the said projects executed by his administration, having recently been in Enugu, Imo State, and Ebonyi State to perform one function or the other, and also to commission some projects executed by governors of the states.
However, while President commissioned the 1.6km-long Second Niger Bridge via network-frustrated Zoom meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige represented him at and commissioned the Federal Secretariat Complex Awka on his behalf.
Commissioning the Second Niger Bridge via Zoom, Buhari described it as one of the critical infrastructures delivered by his administration to fight poverty, promote economic growth and ensure progress for the people; while also adding that the bridge and other projects being commissioned symbolise his administration’s focus on delivering prosperity across the country.
He also noted the commissioning of the project would help to bring a relief to those crossing the old Niger Bridge, while also improving the socio-economic activities of the South-East.
“Those crossing the old Niger bridge will no longer experience gridlock as it will help to improve the socio-economic activities of the South-East. In eight years, I am proud to say that we have developed Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure of Gross Domestic Products from about 20 per cent to over 40 per cent and that is not a small undertaken,” he said.
Earlier speaking, the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, who also joined the event via Zoom, said the commissioning of the project was a clear case of how infrastructure supports the people, and noted that various properties in the area have appreciated.
Also speaking, Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who described the day as historic, commended Buhari for keeping to his campaign promises of completing and delivering the Bridge to the people of South-East before the expiration of his administration.
He said, “I am personally overjoyed. Today is a day of joy, we have come to express our gratitude. History is being made today, the people of the South-East have agitated, and we have complained about five key infrastructure projects.”
Others present at the event include: Delta State Governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa; Imo State Governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma; the Managing Director of Julius Berger, Dr Lars Richter; among other dignitaries.
The newly-commissioned Second Niger Bridge was named after President Muhammadu Buhari.
At the Federal Secretariat Complex Awka, which was named after the first Nigerian female Engineer and Head of Service, Engineer Ebele Ofunneamaka Okeke, President Buhari was represented by Dr. Ngige stated the Secretariat Complex was part of his administration’s efforts to renew, upgrade and expand development infrastructure across the country; even as he expressed optimism that the Complex would help to reduce cost of governance and improve service delivery in the State, among other benefits.