By Emma Amaize
ASABA—PAN-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has expressed dissatisfaction with the purposeful cutback of the N5 billion take-off grant initially guaranteed by President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2018 Appropriation Bill for the smooth take off of the Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko, Delta State, by the National Assembly.
The group, in a statement by its national secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, also frowned at the non-implementation of the financial provision establishing the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, FUPRE, Effurun, near Warri, Delta State.
PANDEF called on President Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly to take necessary steps to provide for the smooth take-off of the NMU, Okerenkoko and to implement the financial provision for FUPRE by proposing and approving a supplementary budget to address the anomaly.
He said, “Both institutions which are located in Delta State are specialized Universities established with the mandate to train high calibre manpower in the maritime and oil /gas sector in Nigeria, respectively. This action of the National Assembly are capable is truncating the laudable objectives upon which these universities were established.
“It is quite disheartening to note that the less than adequate budgetary provision of N5 billion for the take-off of the Maritime University ridiculously slashed to a paltry N3.4 billion, is unacceptable.
“To add to this, is the very disappointing non-financial implementation of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, FUPRE, Act, which is an affront and defeat on the realisation of the core mandate of this institution.
“Nigerians would recall the height of violent agitations in the Niger Delta which resulted to drastic down-ward turn in oil production to an all-time low level or 800,000 barrels per day, PANDEF leaders intervened with a visit to President Buhari in November, 2016, the need for immediate take-off of NMU, Okerenkoko and upgrading of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron, Akwa Ibom State to Federal University of Maritime Studies, Oron, were major items in the list of demands contained in the famous PANDEF 16 – point agenda for peace in the Niger Delta region.”