Nigerian Senate Shames Amaechi, Moves Ahead With Maritime University Bill

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A bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University at Okerenkoko in Delta State passed the 2nd reading at the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, November 16, 2016.

This move by the legislature to go ahead with the school comes months after Nigeria’s minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, announced that he had scrapped the project.

The bill sponsored by James Manager, a senator from Delta State where the school is located, was unanimously supported by the senators after the mover’s lead debate, making case for the establishment of the university.

Addressing the senate committee on maritime on January 19, Amaechi had announced the scrapping of the project, which was to be financed by the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration Agency, a parastatal under his ministry. He cited insecurity in the area and “said the project was a “misplacement of priority” because there are transport institutes in Zaria (Kaduna), and Oron (Akwa Ibom), already”.

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At a federal government town hall meeting in Akwa Ibom State in June 2016, Amaechi tried to justify why he scrapped the Maritime University saying that the N13 billion, allegedly spent on the institution needed to be retrieved first.

But Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum resources, demonstrated class and leadership by telling him he was dead wrong to stop a government project just because he felt the project was over-valued.

“First, let me say on Okerenkoko University, I disagree with the Minister of Transport,” Dr. Kachikwu said.

“Any facility that is located in the South-South we should work close to developing it. I don’t care the circumstances under which you are placed.”

Ibe Kachikwu’s stance attracted loud applause from the crowd. He later inspected the site of the institution and expressed satisfaction with the progress in construction.

The school is located in Warri South-West Local Government area and work on the institution’s infrastructural development began in 2014 under former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Senator Manager argued that maritime sector had huge potentials and that Nigeria should have a university for the purpose of producing capable manpower for the sector which, as he said, is currently dominated by foreign interests.

On suitability of Okerenkoko for the project, he said the area was close to the sea and surrounded by oil wells.

The move that the bill be read for the second time was seconded by Fauster Ogola, a senator from Bayelsa, who said the giving legal backing to the school would make Nigeria become a “hub of manpower development in the Maritime sector.”

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He said Nigeria would be the first to have maritime university in West Africa once the bill received approval of the National Assembly ultimately.

Gbenga Ashafa of Lagos State and Jibrin Barau of Kano State also supported the bill.

Senate President Bukola Saraki called the voice vote and the senators unanimously responded ‘ayes’, Mr. Saraki ruled the bill be referred to the committee on tertiary education and Tetfund.

The committee was asked to report back in four weeks.

Also, the Senate made progress on the bill to make the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State a degree awarding institution. The bill, proposed by Effiong Nelson of Akwa Ibom also scaled through the 2nd reading.

Additional reporting by Premium Times

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