SECOND NIGER BRIDGE IN STORMING WATERS
“When the first bridge was built, it was during the presidency of Nnamdi Azikiwe; the second Niger bridge will be built under the presidency of Azikiwe Jonathan.” “I will go on exile on the completion of my term in office if I didn't build the bridge by 2015″
President Goodluck “Azikiwe” Joanthan made that promise in his remarks at a Town Hall Meeting held on August 31st in the commercial city of Onitsha as part of activities marking his one-day visit to Anambra State. The issue of Second Niger Bridge naturally came up during the Town Hall Meeting since Jonathan had during his campaigns for the 2011 presidential ballot promised to construct the bridge if elected President.
To convince his audience that serious efforts are being made to build the bridge, he invited Works Minister Mike Onolomemen and Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to brief the people on what was being done about the construction of the bridge. Typically, Mr Onolomemen reeled out the technical details about the design of the bridge and the companies bidding to construct it, while Okonjo-Iweala unfolded details about the financial arrangements being made to construct the bridge.
At the end of the meeting, some of the participants, among them, a businessman, Prince Arthur Eze were so thrilled that they urged President Jonathan to seriously consider seeking re-election in 2015. Prince Arthur would be less enthusiastic about President Jonathan's re-election bid if he were to be interviewed on the subject today. If he exudes the same sentiments and excitements over Mr Jonathan's Presidency beyond 2015, it would be because of something else. And it would because of identity politics.
A few days ago, the president was seen inspecting the “Second Niger Bridge map” on his campaign trip to Anambra State! This is an indication that no starting block has been signposted in a swathe of empty space where the bridge was supposedly “erected”! After four years of deceptive and hollow platitudes the president who chiefly identified himself with the Ndigbo couldn't fulfill a simple electoral promise.
The Second Niger Bridge which ought to be a source of political milage has become one of President Jonathan's Achille's Heel and adversity for his Presidential election. Therefore, the choice before Nigerians will be an epic one. A wrong choice will doom the country in the next four years and consigns it to dunghill and drains it of the possibility or potentiality of meeting the 2020/2030 UNESCO and MDGs targets.
Though, Mr Jonathan won the 2011 Presidential election on the bases of ethnic referendum. Now the veil has fallen off from that ideological blindness that subordinated reasoning to bland tribal subjugation. But he keeps reminding them to inherit the enemies of their dead political heroes, like Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu or Chief Jim Nwobodo. The President is telling them to allow ancient grudges and ancestral acrimonies to determine their choice of presidential candidate next month.
This is meant to becloud their sense of judgement and reopen the wounds even though such grudges were bereaved of ethical scrutiny. However, it much be said that Mr Buhari was not blindly punitive. When 250 politicians from all over the country were declared by investigators not having any case to answer, ordered all of them released. Why then will the poor Easterners vote for Goodluck Jonathan against their own economic and political interests in the name of identity politics? Why will they not assess Mr President on the fulfilment of his electoral promises made to them in 2011 rather than mere sentimentality?
Now, the basic presumption amongst majority of the Igbos is that President Jonathan is one of their own. But the more entrenched this politics of overt sentiment and identity surface, the more extreme and widespread poverty that plagues them under the same administration with severe intensity. Yet, the poverty visited on the Igbos by the PDP government is the same thing as the one witnessed amonst the Kanuri, Yoruba, Niger Delta or any other tribes.
Already, it's dawn on the Easterners who are right thinking that they have been short-hanged and were wrong-footed into joining the wrong battle formation against their strive for commerce, industry and economic prosperity. But they are too few to wage war against the forces of ascendant ethno-religoius political formation that encourages slavery and economic servitude.
The most annoying aspect of next month's election is not majorly about President Jonathan's 2011 broken promises which he repeated in 2015. It's not entirely because of stunting virtually all the national institutions, namely, the Bank, education, Military, Police, Judiciary, EFCC, ICPC, and the like. It's the avowed threat of Mr President's men to declare him the winner of the election before the election ever takes place.
The PDP and its Presidential candidate may wish to continue to persuade and manipulate the few who are unable to see beyond thefacade and fascist enslavement inherent in the party for all they care. The height of electoral impunity is when a political party or any government for that matter wishes to subvert the people's mandate and interests and declare itself victorious in total negation and against the electoral aspiration of the electorate. Nigerians are looking up to that watershed, when they will determine their destiny at the polling booths, comes February 14th.
Written by Erasmus Ikhide.