I rejoice with the people of Rivers State on this significant day, marking the flag-off of the Bonny-Bodo Road/Bridges project, which will link the Island of Bonny to the Mainland of Bodo.
The idea behind the Bonny-Bodo Bridge is about 40 years old; but until now, it has remained merely an idea.
It is no secret that at one time in our very recent past, Nigeria earned in excess of $100 for every barrel of crude oil sold, yet significant projects like the Bonny-Bodo Bridge remained undone.
Today, we are earning probably 60% less than in the past five years, but we are spending the highest ever amount on capital projects so that projects like the Bonny-Bodo Bridge are being done.
The Buhari administration is proving that the clear advantage of good governance is that you can do more with less.
In his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, President Buhari promised to invest heavily in the Niger Delta, and to ensure peace and prosperity. Today is, therefore, not only for the flag-off of an important road project, it is also for the commemoration of a promise kept.
The Bonny-Bodo bridge and road project is a Public Private Partnership arrangement, in which the Federal Government and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited (NLNG) will each bear 50 per cent of the N120.6 billion that it will cost to complete the bridge. It is only the latest in a series of similarly transformational infrastructure partnerships ongoing across the country.
Government’s gratitude goes to the NLNG for their enthusiasm and their cooperation, for putting their money towards this landmark project. I hope that other companies and corporations will emulate them in this regard.
This administration is a firm believer in the power and potential of the private sector to deliver the infrastructure that Nigeria urgently requires. It is clear that government cannot, on its own, plug Nigeria’s intimidating infrastructure deficit – nor should it even try to. The Federal Government welcomes the private sector to take the lead, proceeding with the assurance that we will be there every step of the way as enablers and catalysts.
It is the Federal Government’s firm belief that the greatest proof that democracy works ought to be found in the tangible improvements that citizens experience in their lives and communities.
This road, during construction, will create jobs directly for engineers, artisans, and labourers, and indirectly for food vendors and suppliers, transporters, quarry operators and so many others in the construction value chain.
Upon completion, the project will permanently transform the lives of tens of thousands of Nigerian citizens in and around Bonny Island. It will alleviate the hardship faced by commuters along the Bonny-Bodo axis; facilitate the operations of the NLNG, and bring significant benefit to the lives of farmers, traders, schoolchildren and travellers.
The Bonny-Bodo Bridge project is a dividend of the blossoming peace in the Niger Delta. For this, government’s gratitude goes to all the Stakeholders: Governors, Traditional Rulers, Community Leaders, Civil Society Groups, Women, Youths and all those who have accepted our hand of fellowship and demonstrated faith in our New Vision for the Niger Delta.
The first of November will make it one year since the meeting of Niger Delta elders under the aegis of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) with President Muhammadu Buhari, which set in motion a chain of events that delivered that new vision.
The new vision for the Niger Delta is a new way of thinking and of doing, aimed at ensuring that the people of the Delta benefit maximally from the wealth of their land. It is the embodiment of our commitment to achieving a clean break from the neglect and the failed promises that defined the past.
Since the beginning of the year, I have visited all the states of the Niger Delta and a number of the oil bearing communities, sharing the message of the new vision, and even more importantly, listening and engaging with citizens and communities.
Every part of Nigeria matters to us as a government. We will continue to demonstrate this in ways small and large,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I have the distinct honour and pleasure of flagging-off the Bonny-Bodo Bridge, as a symbol of change, of hope, of renewal, and of our commitment to investing in what truly matters the most – the welfare of our people.
Long live our democracy. Thank you and God bless the Niger Delta, and Nigeria.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
10th October, 2017