The inauguration of the Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha, Anambra state, by the then President Muhammadu Buhari in May was a big milestone event in 2023.
It was designed to ease the perennial traffic gridlock at the existing Niger Bridge at Onitsha, the only road link between the South East and South West. The significance of the event lies in the fact that the gigantic Federal Government project that, for many years and under different administrations, had seemingly turned into an elephant project, was eventually completed and commissioned.
The Second Niger Bridge was conceptualised in 2005. It was not until nine years later, in 2014, that an attempt was made to begin the project through Public Private Partnership (PPP) but the effort was not successful. The construction began in 2016 with the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).
PIDF was established in February 2018 with the aim of eliminating the risks of project funding. Critical infrastructure assets assigned to it to be developed include the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and Abuja – Kano Road. PIDF works hand in hand with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), an investment institution of the Federation set up to manage funds in excess of budgeted hydrocarbon revenues. It operates three mandate funds: The Stabilization Fund, the Future Generations Fund, and the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund.
Speaking at the commissioning of the bridge, Mr. Aminu Umar-Sadiq, MD/CEO, NSIA, said “The PIDF projects are pivotal for socio-economic advancement and will significantly enhance access to market for people and communities. As fund and project managers to PIDF, it is our great privilege to have been entrusted with the responsibility of managing the resources necessary to deliver these critical high impact projects like the Second Niger Bridge and Abuja – Kano Road, among others.”
The Second Niger Bridge was named “Muhammadu Buhari Bridge”.after the former President. The Special Assistant to the President on Digital/New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, tweeted that the decision to rename the bridge was taken by the five Governors of the eastern region. “Following consultations, the Governors of the South-East have agreed that the Second Niger Bridge shall be named the Muhammadu Buhari Second Niger Bridge,”