Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Senate overrules Amaechi on scrappin Maritime University

Months after Rotimi Amaechi, the transport minister, announced the scrapping of the Nigerian Maritime University at Okerenkoko, Warri in Delta state, the bill has scaled second reading, Premium Times is reporting. Sponsored by James Manager of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Delta state, the bill for the establihsment of the university was reportedly unanimously supported by the senators after a debate.

Manager reportedly argued that the maritime sector had huge potentials and that this should warrant a university for the purpose of producing capable manpower for the sector. The senator further argued that Okerenkoko was close to the sea and surrounded by oil wells. He was supported by Fauster Ogola (PDP-Bayelsa) who said if passed, Nigeria would be the first to have maritime university in West Africa.

Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) including Gbenga Ashafa and Jibrin Barau also supported the bill. Senate President Bukola Saraki asked that the bill be referred to the committee on tertiary education and Tetfund which is to report back in four weeks. Recall that Amaechi stopped the project many months after its groundbreaking was done by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014. Since there was no law backing the establishment of the university, Manager made a submission to the upper legislative chamber.

In the heat of the tension, Amaechi had told the senate committee on maritime on January 19, that there was an issue of insecurity in the area and that the project was a misplacement of priority since it is patterned towards other transport institutes like the one in Zaria, Kaduna state, and Oron in Akwa Ibom state. Again on June 14 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, Amaechi reportedly said the federal government had no funds to continue with school. He said the project could only continue if the N13 billion spent on the procurement of the land for the project was retrieved. “Okerenkoko (Maritime University), I am not against. My argument about Okerenkoko is that land alone is 13 billion(naira). If you give me 13 billion, I will buy the half of Lagos. That 13 billion has built the university already. “What to do: let EFCC retrieve the money and release the money and we build the university. If they bring the N13 billion, I will build the university for them. “That’s for land alone. I believe the Federal Government does not have money. When we have money, we can continue. “The minister of petroleum has said he would look for the money. Minister, give me the money and we continue,” the former Rivers state governor said.

While disagreeing with Amaechi, however, Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for Petroleum, said at the event: “First, let me say on Okerenkoko University, I disagree with the Minister of Transport. “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.”

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Senate overrules Amaechi on scrappin Maritime University
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