After playing politics with the construction of the second Niger Bridge linking Delta and Anambra States for nearly 40 years, the Federal Government claims it plans to open the historic Second Niger Bridge to the public on or before Christmas this year.
The development will bring to an end year of endless wait to travel on that important infrastructure that was conceived many decades ago but left on the drawing board by previous administration. But for that to come to fruition, ongoing flooding on the four-kilometre approach from the Asaba end of the bridge must recede to enable the contractor to complete the link road to the bridge, which had since been completed and lit by the contractor.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, gave the hint at a press conference to highlight the achievements of the Buhari administration in the areas of Works and Housing, which was attended by the Ministers of Information and that of the FCT, Mohammed Bello. Fashola said that despite the shortfall in federal revenue arising from a depressed economy and drop in oil revenue, the government has been able to construct and complete at least 8,352.94 kilometres of roads and create no fewer than 339,955 jobs between 2016 and 2022.
The minister also indicated that the rehabilitation of 12 major roads spanning 896.187 kilometres in the country within the same period has resulted in the reduction of travel time by 56.20 percent and added value to the people in the communities where the roads pass through. Fashola said that the Buhari administration had devised a number of initiatives to draw down funds for the construction of critical road infrastructure in the country and end the suffering of Nigerians on certain roads that were notorious for being in bad shape.
Among the initiatives, which the administration introduced, which are facilitating infrastructure development are: the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, Sukuk Fund, Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, Multi-lateral loans/grants, and collaboration with other government agencies such as the NorthEast Development Commission. He said the PIDF has assisted immensely in the construction of the rehabilitation, construction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway Section I: (Lagos-Shagamu) in Lagos State, rehabilitation, construction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway Section II: (Shagamu-Ibadan) in Oyo State, construction of main works including associated infrastructure for the 2nd Niger Bridge and the rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway, Sections I, II & III.
In the housing sector, Fashola reported that the ministry is undertaking no fewer than 6,022 housing units nationwide but has completed a total of 2,864 units in 35 states and the FCT and created 29,030 direct and 57,874 indirect jobs in the process. In the same vein, the minister disclosed that he had signed no fewer than 6337 certificates of occupancy to Nigerians who were granted federal lands and property but had not been issued with their titles for over three decades.
In that same area, the minister announced that a total of 2,731 allottees of landed property had been grated consent to transact business with their property attracting the sum of N2,210,577,837.95 to the federal purse. The minister announced that the over 48,000 files in the land registry are to be scanned and converted to digital documents in order to reduce manual transaction and save time and resources.
The minister said that in a bid to provide office space for federal workers in the states, the federal government had gone far in completing federal secretariats in Lafia, Yenagoa, Ekiti, Osogbo, Gusau and Awka. Beyond the construction of the new federal secretariats, the minister said that new facilities managers had also been engaged to provide services and maintain them for the comfort of the workers. According to him, a total of 1,548 workers had been engaged by the facility managers in 28 federal secretariats across the country while 845 workers handle the National Housing programme.
Fashola said the infrastructural feat recorded by the Buhari administration was the actualisation of the “Change Agenda” which they unfolded in the ministry of Works and Housing in 2015 as part of the larger objective of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to grow the economy through the revamping and expansion of the nation’s infrastructure on a scale that has not been seen in a long while. The Minister boasted: “In these last seven and half years, the administration has been very resolute in the pursuit of progressivism, which is globally recognised as the improvement of the human condition. Indeed, the Ministry of Works and Housing is present in all the states of the Federation either through a road, bridge, National Housing Programme, federal secretariat or Special Intervention Project.
“If in 2015 the complaint was the neglect or lack of life defining infrastructure across the country and today these infrastructure are being completed or within the finish line; if in 2015 the conversation was on the existence of a large number of abandoned infrastructure and the seeming lack of political will to complete those infrastructure in spite of the availability of resources and today the Buhari administration has made these possible in spite of lean resources; if in 2015 such critical infrastructure as the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway were either totally non-existent or in very deteriorated state and if today the PMB administration has demonstrated that needed political will to break the jinx on our nation’s historically most difficult projects, does it not stand to reason to conclude that the party which formed the Government deserves to continue to deliver to the people of Nigeria these life defining infrastructure. Think about this,” Fashola said.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who coordinated the press conference, also boasted that the administration had done well by implementing high impact projects that meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians across the country in its quest to leave a lasting legacy but lashed out at opponents trying to downplay the achievements of the government. Mohammed said, “In the din of politicking, naysayers have attempted to play down the massive and unprecedented achievements of this administration.
Some presidential candidates have even released a poorly done photocopy of this Administration’s achievements as their own Blueprint. But the series we are starting today will leave them breathless as we cover all the achievements in the various sectors.Because we have so much to showcase, the frequency of these briefings will be high and this will run through the remaining part of our tenure.
“Despite attempts in some circles to downplay the achievements of this administration, I have no scintilla of doubt that history will be fairer, and posterity will be kind to us. Those whose trips have been shortened and smoothened by good roads and bridges will remember those who built those roads and bridges; those who use the modern terminals at our airports will remember who built them. Those who ride on modern trains along Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna and Itakpe-Warri will not forget those who made that happen. And the 9.8 million school children who are fed daily, the 1 million youth that have been empowered as well as the 500,000 who are undergoing trainings under the N-Power and the 1,632,480 households that have been enrolled in the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme will not forget,” Mohammed said.