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APGA faults Jonathan, Okonjo-Iweala on Niger Bridge, erosion in S-East

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ENUGU—THE All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, yesterday, faulted recent statements by President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister for Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha and different erosion menaces in the South East states would be financed through concessional agreement and loans, respectively.

The party said that President Jonathan’s plan to construct the Onitsha Bridge through concession meant that his administration has not made any financial commitment to the project, more so when the concessioner is expected to recover the money invested in the project through toll gates that would be erected at entry points of the Onitsha and Asaba cities.

National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, who spoke in an interview with newsmen at the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu shortly on his return from England, also disagreed with some Igbo personalities who recently pledged their support for President Jonathan’s second term, if he eventually chooses to contest, saying he can not see any reason why the Igbo should not produce the president of the country in 2015.

“I know that the yearning of our people is to produce a President for this country at the highest level. If there is any reason why the Igbo should not produce President for this country in 2015, it is not by jumping the gun and making noise. If we have the opportunity in 2015, we shall take it,” he said while reacting to the endorsement of Jonathan’s second term proposal by the group which meeting with Jonathan was allegedly facilitated by Governor Peter Obi.

Umeh said he was out of Nigeria when President Jonathan visited Anambra State last week where the President disclosed that the second Niger bridge would be constructed through concession saying that with such arrangement President Jonathan has not redeemed his campaign pledge to Ndigbo since the people using the bridge would after all pay for the construction through toll fees.

The APGA Chairman also recalled a similar statement by the Minister for Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the government would remedy the different erosion sites in the zone through a secured $450m loan and wondered who would be responsible for re-paying the loan.

According, to him, it would be disastrous if the states in south east are made to pay back the loan in a long term since the zone is financially bankrupt.

“It is cheering news that construction work at the second Niger bridge will commence in March 2013 but I was very worried that the second Niger bridge will be concessional to an international development Consulting that will construct it and what this that the company will bring the fund and it will be expected to recover its funds.

What that means is that the Federal Government is not part of the financing plan for the construction and that is why I am worried. It means that after the construction, tool gates will be mounted in Onitsha-Asaba Onitsha-Owerri roads and maybe Ontisha-Enugu road ends and our people will be paying for it.

“I also see a twin issue where the Minister of Finance was quoted to have said that about four

hundred and fifty million dollars loan has been negotiated for fighting erosion in the south east. She said it will have a ten year moratorium when there will be retirement, it will be interest free, then the loan will be repaid under 40 years. What this means is that federal government will bring the money for the south east to fight erosion but what is not clear is if it is the Federal Government that will pay back this money or the states in the south east.’’

Article Credit:Thisday News 

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Updated 7 Years ago

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