FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan, has hailed Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel as a miracle worker for building the longest bridge by any state in Nigeria.
The former leader made the declaration while inaugurating the bridge built by the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel in Mbo Local Government Area Of Akwa Ibom State.
The bridge, which is 1.15 kilometres long, connects Mbo LGA with Esit Eket LGA and opens up riverine communities in Okobo, Mbo and Esit-Eket LGAs, and also opens the gateway into the economic nerve centres and homes of the Ibom Industrial City, Liberty Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone, Ibom Deep Seaport, Dakkada Global Oil, Ibom Solutions Hub and the Nigerian Navy’s Forward Operating Base (FOB) located on the shorelines of the Atlantic Ocean.
As the bridge was flung open, residents of the largely fishing communities around the project, erupted with joy, jubilation, drumming and dancing, as Governor Udom accompanied by Jonathan and his wife Patience, arrived at the jam-packed site of the bridge for the historic event that is expected to impact on the economy of Akwa Ibom State in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
It will be recalled that the joy that flowed at the opening stemmed from the historical fact that successive governments since 1969, have tried and failed to link up these communities with modern roads and bridges until Governor Udom decided to take it up and finally broke the jinx and added to the infrastructure stock of the country.
An excited former President Jonathan, who flagged off the project, said: “What I see whenever I visit Akwa Ibom State is substantial evidence of a well structured growth-promoting projects in the last seven and half years. I commend the Governor and his team very sincerely for this visionary leadership”.
Jonathan described the development strides in Akwa Ibom under Governor Udom as “great and remarkable”, adding that Udom is the “enabler of economic growth” in Akwa Ibom through several projects.
He said the bridge is not only a “flagship project”, adding, “The unique thing about this bridge is that it is the longest bridge in Nigeria ever built by a state government” and it takes someone with a total commitment to the improvement of the wellbeing and quality of life of his people to embark on this type of project that I am seeing here today”.
Jonathan said the governor does not build physical bridges alone but human,social and political bridges across the state and Nigeria.
The former president said: “He (Udom) is a leader whose significant developmental strides have given hope and confidence to our democracy.
He is a young, innovative, peace-loving and committed nation builder, the type that helps to cement the fibres of our unity and make our diversity more profitable and desirable. People like Udom Emmanuel are the stars and heroes of our democracy. We need people like Udom Emmanuel to ensure that our democracy does not derail”.
Jonathan however condemned the high level of bitterness noticeable lately in Nigerian politics and called on the incoming governor of Akwa Ibom State to follow the footsteps of Udom Emmanuel.
At the event, Governor Emmanuel said the project was undertaken by his administration in order to connect and open up riverine areas for investors as part of his Completion Agenda for the State.
Governor Emmanuel said: “When I took up the mantle of leadership of this state, I said to myself I came here simply to serve my people. In my second term, I said we are going to open up the riverine areas; I am glad to say that there is no local government area today in this state that my administration has not touched with completed or or ongoing projects.
“Today, you can drive from Uyo to the Atlantic Ocean on dualized roads. We are also building one of the most intelligent airport terminal buildings in Africa that can also anchor an A380 aircraft. So by commissioning this bridge here today…, we are opening up new opportunities for our people, and we want to thank God for all of these achievements,” the governor said.
Goodwill messages and commendations by political leaders and members of the benefiting communities added an emotional dimension to the event.
They spoke of several decades of separation from their kith and kin and from the rest of the state and Nigeria as a result of the communication breakdown.
Key community and political leaders, who spoke included the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem and his elder brother His Grace, the Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Calabar, Most Rev. Joseph Ekuwem, the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom State, Umo Eno, and his Deputy, Senator Akon Eyakeny as well as the member representing Mbo State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. Effiong Johnson. The PDP Governorship Candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno, which former president Jonathan described as the incoming governor, noted, “This bridge is not just is not just excellent in linking one Akwa Ibom community to another but in linking Akwa Ibom State to industrial revolution.”
The Commissioner of Works, Professor Eno Ibanga, gave a a technical insight into the landmark project, saying: “This 1.15km bridge sits on 412 piles with a minimum depth of 30 metres each. The bridge is divided into 52 segments of 52 spines of 22.5 metres each.
”These spines also sit on 408 precast beams. The bridge is also designed with stone-pitch protection at both ends with streetlights and a 1.5 metres walkway for pedestrians and bicycles.
“Therefore, as far as engineering specification is concerned, this bridge has met all the timing, curing and the healing for any process to take place, and I can boldly say that this bridge will stand the test of time “.