19 SEPTEMBER 2015
Buhari is sharpening Biafra consciousness, says MASSOB Even though the embattled leader of the militant Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazurike, declined comments, the Director of Information, Comrade Uchenna Madu tells DOMINIK UMOSEN, categorically that President Muhammadu Buhari is reinforcing Biafra consciousness in his undisguised display of distrust in Ndigbo for appointment as personal staff.
awaken that consciousness. The consciousness that inspired Biafra will certainly be re-awakened by the president’s actions so far. This feeling is perfectly legitimate and acceptable.
Comment on President Buhari’s appointments The president has made several apUwazuruike... declined comments pointments since inauguration as president. Most of these appointments have been defended by his apologists as per- Gov Rochas Okorocha; former governor of sonal appointments which he has the pre- Abia State and All Progressives Congress rogative to make as he deems fit. But we (APC), foundation member, Dr Ogbonnaya have taken stock of everything and I must Onu; the APC Organising Secretary, Senatell you that we are even praying for the tor Osita Izunaso; former Anambra State president to demonstrate more of this dis- governor and former senator, Dr Emeka criminatory appointments. They reconfirm Ngige and others now realize that the civil the fact that like others before him, they war is not yet over. The shabby treatment still harbor a grouse against Ndigbo. We and open show of disdain demonstrated support the appointments because they by the president against Ndigbo will deficonstitute further re-affirmations that some nitely help hone the Biafra consciousness Nigerians simply do not believe that the in the South-East and even militancy in the civil war is over. They are further re-affir- Niger Delta. mations of hatred against Ndigbo. On a serious note, may be those Igbo sons like Against this background, what is your
What is your take on the war against corruption which the president has sworn to pursue to a logical conclusion? Is there anything like a war against corruption in the country? To us, there is nothing like that yet. The truth is that from inception, there was a conspiracy by some people to run the country the way it pleases them. And the president seems to be reinforcing that tradition. Buhari himself can not escape allegations of corruption, judging from his activities in the past, including previous appointments held, including his activities at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during late Gen Sani Abacha, which reeked of ethnic consciousness. President Buhari is just trying to divert attention and deceiving Nigerians. His administration is a continuation of the same oppressive Nigeria, from Igariwey... his group, Ohaneze is yet to take position the point of view of Ndigbo. recommendation against this regime? You are still asking me about recommendations? In view of the reality of undisguised disdain against the South-East demonstrated by President Buhari, we can only congratulate him on this open show of his hidden agenda. We want him to continue demonstrating that he is leader of only a section of the country, against the letter and spirit of the constitution of the country; we pray that he should continue in this manner so that his actions will help to convince and reassure our people that there is a legitimate basis for the consciousness of Biafranism. He is helping us to re-
Do you subscribe to the view that by excluding past regimes from the probe, the president is demonstrating fear of past leaders like former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida? That is what I am saying. The exemption of past regimes is an agreement which has been discussed and agreed upon by the Northern caucus. Either as Buhari’s administration or you call it what you will, it is still the same hypocrisy. They are one and the same thing. For us in, we encourage President Buhari to continue the hypocrisy. That will surely accelerate militancy in the South-East and the Niger-Delta.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 2ND NIGER BRIDGE
s part of the routine debriefing by President Muhammadu Buhari since he resumed office, the leadership of various MDA’s have met with the President to appraise him of the goings on in the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies; some newsy items invariably follow such meetings. After the President met with the leadership of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (I.C.R.C.) the newsy buzz was that the contract for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge had been revoked or cancelled and that work on the bridge had STOPPED‼ Like every Nigerian I was dazed, aghast, flabbergasted and just angry about this “injustice again” against “my people”. It took the crew of the very popular radio programme on Ray Power called “Political Platform” to assure people like me that there was no truth in that rumour of the revocation of the contract for the 2nd Niger Bridge; which is probably one of the most emotional projects for people travelling to Eastern Nigeria. Now what is this 2nd Niger Bridge and what is the truth I want to tell? Please hear me: The 2nd Niger Bridge has been concessioned under what is called a Public Private Partnership (PPP) – whereby a Contractor has “partnered” with the Federal Government to Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) the completed bridge after the contractor has recouped his “investment” through tolling after some years. The ICRC is the statutory body empowered to regulate all “Partnerships” and concessions in which the government and any
other legal persons are involved. In the build-up to this PPP for the 2nd Niger Bridge, I recall that Senator Chris Ngige was stridently against the project as packaged and delivered. At a meeting on Cameron Road in Ikoyi where he addressed some Igbo elites sometime in 2014, he lambasted the project, calling it a fraud and a Trojan Horse. He compared the “cost” of the Bridge with that of the “LekkiIkoyi” bridge of about the same length and called it outrageous. The PDP Aparatchik and their leaders from the then Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government under Senator Anyim attacked Ngige and countered that the cost of the bridge could not be the same with the Lekki- Ikoyi Bridge as the Lekki Bridge was not fortified for carrying trailers and the type of traffic the 2nd Niger Bridge would carry. Ignorant me, I was persuaded; in any case, Ngige could have been “talking politics”. Alas, I was to receive a wakeup call when on July 1st 2015 the news broke about China opening the World’s Longest Ocean Bridge measuring 26.4 Miles (about 42 kms) and costing just US$1.5 Billion. Yes, the Jiazhou Bay Bridge of 26.4 Miles over an Ocean, cost US$1.5 Billion while the 2nd Niger Bridge of less than 2 kilometres under this arrangee PPP was to cost US$700 Million, wait for it; and as part of the obligations of the Federal Government to this PPP, N10 Billion of our money has already been disbursed towards the “project”. These figures dazed me and put me on further inquiry about this PPP project. My findings will shock you; under this PPP the concessionaire/contractor would be entitled to “Build and operate” the Bridge by tolling for a period of Twentyfive years (25 years). This appears quite fair
The truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari has neither revoked nor suspended the “contract” for the 2nd Niger bridge if they are to recover their US$700 Million investment; but wait for it; without doing any “affordability study” this Contractor had fixed to collect a toll of N2,000 (Two Thousand Naira) per Saloon Car, going up to N7,000 (Seven Thousand Naira) for trucks and trailers for a one time crossing. Now compare; we Lagosians are protesting N250 (Two Hundred and fifty Naira) for Lekki bridge and N150 (One Hundred and fifty Naira) for Lekki/Epe Toll gates respectively, yet some shylock was planning, and with the connivance of some high ranking officials of the past administration, my good people of Eastern Nigeria and other users would have been yoked into a most extortionate “contract” for 25 years and to a project that ordinarily should not have cost more than US$70 Million (Seventy Million U.S. Dollars). Do the simple arithmetic with the cost of the Jiazho Bay Bridge which is across a more treacherous terrain like an ocean and you will know that those who conceived and delivered that project are the Victor Ludorum of rent seeking. The truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari has neither revoked nor suspended the “contract” for the 2nd Niger bridge, what he has done as the official
guardian of our commonwealth is to direct that the entire PPP be reviewed to ensure compliance with best practices and to protect long suffering Nigerians from the wickedness and greed of their long time oppressor brethren who feast on them like the vilest vampires. Just imagine that the “over priced” Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge (1.3km) cost N29 Billion; while the 2nd Niger Bridge (1.7km) was to cost N117 Billion with the Federal Government providing additional N30 Billion (N10 Billion already released). If it was the perspicacious debriefing of ICRC that caused the President to order the review of this most oppressive PPP contract, then the leadership of that agency must be commended and recommended for more oversight responsibilities as the Nigerian consumers continue to suffer the tyranny of service providers like the TELCO’S; DISCOs and others who though ought to be regulated by NCC; NERC etc still ride roughshod on prostrate citizens who can now look up to PMB for help. In conclusion, one cannot help but wonder what the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation under Senator Pius Anyim did in preparation for the presentation of the EXCO papers for the approval by the EXCO for this warped and pernicious PPP which was to keep the people of eastern Nigeria in perpectual hardship to “repay” the PPP consortium. Upon what data and materials did Anyim’s office make the recommendation or due diligence for a project so vital to “his people”? That, is the truth about the “2nd Niger Bridge”. Azike is a Lagos-based attorney.
Saturday, September 19, 2015