I was amused at the ignorance and mischief of some men who a few days from Christmas suffused Facebook with photographs of traffic jam on the Onitsha bridge. They scowl in their usual manner that President Buhari was lying that he was constructing a 2nd Niger Bridge.
For this fellows the moment a project is announced to have commenced that means it is said to have been delivered.
There was no insult and invectives they didn’t pour on the President and his party. Some even shot a video and in their crippled English ran a commentary saying all manners of inanities.
If it were just about Onitsha Bridge one would have forgiven these folks and attribute their condition to too much ingestion of propaganda poison from IPOB .
This is however symptomatic of quite a good number of Nigerian’s understanding or lack of it of the workings of government.
Before I go on let me however differentiate these folks from the ones who have lost benefit. The top preacher who no longer get free money from the state and whose income has dropped drastically from tithes due to the blockage of leakages by government. These elements are in the same boat with traditional rulers, business men, top civil servants, out of power and out of favour politicians as well as the young who grew up to adult under the 16 year of PDP regime and have come to think toil does not pay.
Now the allegory.
Some marauders enter a town . They set the houses on fire . Goaded by the local gin they looted all they could and raped every women in sight . Some courageous elements in the community came out in their hundreds and chased the marauders away. The damage has however been done . The houses have been destroyed. The ones that didn’t get burnt were pulled down.
The town decided it was time to rebuild . They called on an elder , a patriot to lead the process of reconstruction and rebuilding. The elder laid out the process of reconstruction. We must clear the debri, call an architect , builders and structural engineers to come up with a strong design that will not in the nearest future be susceptible to destruction. The experts took their time and came up with a design , which the majority if not all members of the community signed on to. Now time to look for the money. Efforts were made both within and outside to secure enough money for reconstruction.
Then the foundation, a solid one for that matter was put in place and as this was going on a horde of young people and some who are only elders in gait and the grey hair they spot up rise up in arms.
Many who were in their diapers when the destruction took place and who could not connect with the trust reposed in the elder to lead the reconstruction process armed themselves with stones and started hauling it at the elder. You promised us reconstruction of our homes destroyed. Where is the house now? Where is the beautiful edifice, they demanded to know.
They could not reason that any edifice without a foundation is like a house built on a quick sand. It shall soon fall down and scatter. The community had thought that it was only the houses that were destroyed, the ability of many of the members of the community to reason properly also suffered some demolition. The communal river too was poisoned and every child that drank of the became mentally stunted.
This is the story of the Nigerians who could not reason properly that Nigeria has hemorrhaged badly under the military and sixteen years of PDP has damaged it further almost irreparably.
The construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge is going on as promised and as planned by the administration and so are other projects. The last time I heard the Minister Of Works speak about this project , he explained that all of the years PDP talked about building the bridge there was no design and engineering drawing. That has since been achieved and concrete piling is ongoing to provide a solid foundation . The under water foundation he said is of the height of a twelve story building. All of this beyond what the ordinary citizen not involved in the construction can fathom or visible on the surface. Neither is a project like this nor any project at all conceived and completed overnight.
Work is not ceasing at the 2nd Niger Bridge just as work has not ceased in finding solutions to all the problems bedeviling our country. Thirty nine billion naira, the Minister said, was most recently disbursed to Julius Berger, the company handling the project. Berger is known to be a can do company.
Similarly is Mambila Plateau Dam that promises additional 7000 megawatts of power. Just today,16 companies awarded the contract for the Ogoni clean up were taken by the Minister Of Environment to the location to be formally introduced to the traditional rulers as well as the Ogoni people. We shall all marvel when by February we are able to take a train ride in just 45 minutes from Lagos to Ibadan. This has immense implications for Lagos decongestion, development of estates along the corridor and the ease of transportation in the Lagos metropolis itself. You can live in Ibadan and work in Lagos. It will reduce your rent as well as your rest. By the time you are in the bosom of your wife the man working in Victoria Island and living in Agege will still be struggling to negotiate his way through the intractable traffic on Third Mainland Bridge. By next year this project will inch hi way to Osogbo and from Osogbo to my state in Ekiti, all the way to Kano. The one from Lagos to Calabar is on the drawing board, so is Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, Aladja to Warri is almost completed . All in less than four years. Imagine if Obasanjo and his hordes had done all of these in 16 years when we were awash with petro dollar the load on Mr President’s shoulder at this lean time would have been lighter
Despite the less available he is making a commendable effort to do more.
Baba may be slow as some alleged but he is steady. Which old and wisened man is not slow. The decisions I took some 25 years ago I will not take them today without subjecting them to rigorous reflection. That is the benefit of age , of experience.
Add to this his intergrity. The fast boys of yesterday only made away with our money to acquire private jets and Macmansions in choice areas across the world. The Panama papers is replete with what they have taken from this country. More will come out about that soonest.
Dear Compatriots it may take a lot of efforts the stammerer will call Baba just as it may take some time , the hog will get from Badagry to Oyo. It didn’t take three years
Bit by bit, block by block, window element by window elements President Muhammadu Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo are delivering on their promises. They are building the edifice. All that is required is for us to have faith , trust in them and be patient they shall to the glory of God and for the benefit of Nigerians deliver an edifice that shall be a pride of Nigerians.
Ojudu is Special Adviser To The President On Political Matters.