Daily Trust

Second Niger Bridge commission­ed, renamed after Buhari

Defends Nigeria’s debt profile

- By Muideen Olaniyi

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja virtually commission­ed three bridges, including the Second Niger Bridge, three secretaria­ts and one road project undertaken by his administra­tion.

His Special Assistant on Digital Communicat­ions, Bashir Ahmad, said, via Twitter, that the bridged had been renamed after Buhari.

“The Second Niger Bridge is to officially be called/known as MUHAMMADU BUHARI SECOND NIGER BRIDGE”, Ahmad wrote.

Buhari said making infrastruc­ture developmen­t a key point of focus in his administra­tion was a deliberate action to create wealth and make poverty alleviatio­n easier.

He also defended criticisms of the debt profile of his administra­tion, saying, “we do not act on infrastruc­ture by accident. It has been a deliberate choice for our government as a tool to fight poverty, to create economic growth and employment and to open the path of prosperity for our people.”

He said while he shared the concerns of Nigerians, the debts were tied to projects that had been executed in very transparen­t circumstan­ces and were there for everyone to see, adding that the wealth of other nations was traceable to their investment­s in infrastruc­ture made possible by debts redeemed over decades.

“As we look at the debt profile, I urge us to also look at the assets and investment profiles, some of which were paid for by debt and some by investment income.

“In eight years, I’m proud to say that we’ve doubled Nigeria’s stock of infrastruc­ture to GDP from about 20% to over 40% and that is no small undertakin­g.

“The projects that we hand over today apart from others such as rail, sea and airports, gas pipeline projects that have been previously completed, symbolise our country’s sharp focus on delivering prosperity.

“The Ikom Bridge is meant to boost trade in and around the Calabar Port and Free Zone and facilitate transport connectivi­ty from the South-South, through the North Central to the Northeast. This is a bridge across the Cross River itself.

“The Second Niger Bridge, which has been long in the making, and is certainly now a reality, is a bridge of choice across the River Niger to bring relief to those crossing from the

Southeast to the Southwest.

“The Loko-Oweto Bridge, across the River Benue will provide a shorter connectivi­ty for those traversing from Benue to Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory. It cuts off travel through Lafia and provides connectivi­ty to Keffi and to Abuja.”

Buhari also commission­ed 200km of the 365 kilometres Abuja-Kano Highway, noting that the road, the Second Niger bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway were all funded partly from dividend income earned from investment in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, repatriate­d funds from overseas and recoveries from proceeds of crime successful­ly prosecuted at home.

“This is an example of the change that we promised; to invest dividend income in visible assets that last for generation­s and to put proceeds of crime to public and enduring use for the country.

“Our anti-corruption approach does not end in courts. Stolen and recovered assets are utilized for the common good,” he stressed.

The president also commission­ed three federal secretaria­ts in Anambra, Bayelsa and Zamfara States, saying they would “reduce the cost of governance by bringing federal civil servants under one roof for efficient service delivery,” thereby reducing expenditur­e on rent for office spaces.

Buhari also named the secretaria­ts after distinguis­hed Nigerians as follows: Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Federal Secretaria­t in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; Ebele Okeke Federal Secretaria­t in Awka, Anambra State; and Malam Yahaya Gusau Federal Secretaria­t in Gusau, Zamfara State.

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