By Godwin Oritse
ABUJA—Attempt to legalise the establishment of the disbanded Maritime University of Nigeria at Okerenkoko, Delta State, has suffered a major setback as the Bill supporting it, which was brought by Senator James Manager of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, failed on the floor of the Senate.
James Manager explained that the establishment of Maritime University would produce manpower for the maritime industry.
After his presentation, Senator Dino Melaye, who represents Kogi West senatorial district, was the first to shut down the proposal by maintaining that it would have been proper for the existing Nigeria Maritime Academy, Oron, Akwa Ibom, to be upgraded, instead of establishing new one, to save cost.
In the same vein, Binta Mashi posited that the terrain of the proposed university was unsuitable, noting that it was improper to take a boat and travel on waters for 30 minutes before reaching the place.
However, Nelson Effiong, Akwa Ibom South senatorial district, reminded the Senate that the Maritime Academy, Oron, which had trained seafarers in the last 30 years of its existence, was approved by former President, Goodluck Jonathan, adding that it had since been with the National Universities Commission, NUC.
He was emphatic that government should work on the approval in order to upgrade, rather than starting a fresh one for economic reasons. “The National Maritime Academy at Oron has been operating for 30 years and based on the track record, former President Jonathan approved its upgrade to a university status and the approval has been with NUC,”, Effiong said.
But the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, on his part, envisaged security challenges because of isolation of the environment, stressing that Oron should be upgraded. “A university needs serene and peaceful environment and this one cannot be situated at Okerenkoko,” Sani said.
Former governor of Akwa Ibom State and Minority Leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, revealed that his administration relocated land owners with compensation, following government’s willingness to upgrade Maritime Academy, Oron. He reasoned that the Academy, which had trained professionals in the maritime industry, should be upgraded to a degree awarding institution.
When it became obvious that the bill had suffered setback, James Manager, PDP, Delta South, withdrew the bill, promising to represent it at the appropriate time.