By Chimaobi Nwaiwu
THE Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday, rejected the alleged plan by the Federal Government to name the ongoing second Niger Bridge after President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as laughable.
Presidential aide, Bashir Ahmad, in a video of the 1.6km bridge shared via his Twitter handle last Thursday had said the bridge would be named after President Buhari.
Ahmad had revealed that the bridge is a major connection point between two economically vital regions in Nigeria, adding, that the President has done more than enough for the southeast.
Ahmad had also said that the Second Niger Bridge is being built to ease the burden on the Niger Bridge which links Onitsha and Asaba.
He tweeted: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Muhammadu Buhari Bridge (MBB), a 1.6KM Bridge will be a major connection point between two economically vital regions in Nigeria.”
However, one Twitter said the name is 2nd Niger bridge and that any other name doesn’t stand a chance.
When another user opposed the renaming of the bridge to Muhammadu Buhari bridge, saying that it wasn’t Buhari who initiated the project, pAhmad had asserted that the bridge will be named after President Buhari and not Goodluck Jonathan Bridge for initiating the plan to build the project.
He wrote: “So, can we call it Goodluck Jonathan Bridge for sketching the bridge? The bridge is to be called ‘Muhammadu Buhari Bridge’, read the name again and let it sink in your head.”
But IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, entitled, “We reject naming 2nd Niger Bridge after Buhari”, said its rejection of naming the bridge after President Buhari is because his government sidelined the Igbo.
The pro-Biafra group also alleged that under President Buhari, Igbo youths have been slaughtered by security agents with reckless abandon, just as under his watch, terrorists masquerading as herders have invaded Igbo communities, killing innocent men and women after destroying their farms with their cows.
The Biafra agitating group also debunked the allegation by Mr. Fashola that IPOB’s sit-at-home contributed in delaying the completion of the second Niger Bridge project, accusing the Minister of playing to the gallery.
IPOB statement read: “The attention of the global movement and family of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, under the command and leadership of our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been drawn to the laughable plan by the Federal Government of Nigeria to name the second Niger Bridge after President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We wish to restate our position on this and reject naming the second Niger bridge after a man who came to power and completely sidelined our people.
“Under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch, our youths have been slaughtered by security agents with reckless abandon. Under his watch, terrorists masquerading as Fulani herdsmen have invaded our communities, killing innocent men and women after destroying our farms with their cows.
“These jihadists have raped our mothers and sisters and spread insecurity across our land. How can a man who supervised all these pains against our people be rewarded with immortalising his name with a project like second Niger Bridge which is an important edifice in Igbo land.
“IPOB is vehemently opposed to naming second Niger Bridge after Buhari. The bridge should rather be called Achuzie bridge or named after other accomplished Igbo patriots. No Igboman has been named after any big project in the North.
“Again, we want to debunk the allegation by Babatunde Raji Fashola, that IPOB disturbed the construction of 2nd Niger Bridge. This is another lie from the pit of hell. We want to challenge Fashola to substantiate his claims.
“Did IPOB in any way physical or otherwise interfere with the construction of the bridge by either directly or indirectly hindering any worker, foreign or local handling the project?
“Fashola should know that we don’t have his time. He should face his job and not dare us. He is just trying to test our patience with his utterances and allegations against IPOB.
“South East has more credible names and more important persons who the federal government can name the second Niger bridge after.
“We have a galaxy of accomplished Africans who can be named after the bridge, like : Chinua Achebe, the writer of THINGS FALL APART; Late Chu Okongwu, the renowned Economist and a simple man of his time; Late Cyprain Ekwensi, the author of African Night Entertainment; Late Dr Alexander Ekwueme, former Vice President of Nigeria; Late Chief Michael Okpara, former Premier of Eastern Region; Late Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Late Mbonu Ojike, Late Kenneth Dike the first Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan; Late Professor Eni Njoku, the first Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos; Late Dora Akunyili, Late Dee Sam Onunaka Mbakwe; Late Phillips Efiong and the living legend, Chief Mbazuluike Amechi.
“All these names mentioned above are eminently qualified to be named after second Niger Bridge. Second Niger Bridge was awarded since 1979 by Shehu Shagari’s regime and since then, no administration found it worthy to execute it, but IPOB agitation for self determination pushed this APC administration to reluctantly embark on its construction using the funds past Nigerian politicians looted and stashed away in Europe.
“We are aware of the condition given by a certain European country that they will only release stolen funds stashed away in their country if the funds will be channeled towards the construction of the Second Niger Bridge.
“This is what compelled the Nigerian government to embark on the Bridge project, not out of love for the Igbo people of Biafra. We reject naming the bridge after Buhari when we have other qualified names.
“We equally understand that all these sycophants in Buhari’s administration derive joy in calling IPOB names to deceive Buhari. We are not perturbed because they would end up in shame. We want to let them know that IPOB knows what is good for our people and we must continue going for what is good for our people.
“Fashola and his co-travellers should know that if not IPOB that has ensured security in the South East, the workers of Julius Berger would have run away from the site long time ago. If the second Niger Bridge is being done in the North, Boko Haram, and ISWAP and the pampered bandits would have chased them away. That shows them that IPOB is a peaceful and non-violent group and South East is more peaceful than the North.
“We want to restate that the insecurity in the whole of South East is sponsored by federal government which Fashola is an integral part. The Armed Forces know their sponsors and the brains behind the insecurity in the South East region, but they cannot go for them because they are in their party, the APC.”