The Senate on Thursday passed the bill for the establishment of Nigerian Maritime University in Delta State.
The bill which was sponsored by Delta State lawmaker, James Manager, was passed after the Senate adopted the report of its committee on tertiary education and TETFUND headed by Barau Jibrin.
Recall that the groundbreaking ceremony of the proposed Maritime University was performed at Okerenkoko, in Warri South-West local government area of Delta State, in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
However, there had been no law to back the establishment of the university.
It would be recalled also that the Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, had some time in 2016 described the establishment of the University as a “misplacement of priority” and “waste of resources.”
The minister also said that the establishment of such a university in the heart of the Niger Delta was ill-advised as there are serious security concerns in the area.
He also expressed misgivings with the alleged payment of N13 billion by the Jonathan-led federal government to wanted militant leader, Government Ekpemumpolo, popularly known as Tompolo, for the procurement of the land on which the school was sited.
“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,” said Mr. Amaechi during a town hall meeting in Uyo on June 14, 2016.
However, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu said he was in full support of the project, adding that the federal government will support it.
“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,” Kachikwu said amidst applause by the audience.
The minister pointed out that “so much physical assets are being developed (at the site),” adding that “we are not going to throw away the baby with bath water.”
“We will deal with the issues but the university will be developed. If he (Amaechi) does not want it in Maritime, I will take it in petroleum,” Kachikwu said.
The bill will now be transmitted to the House of Representatives for concurrence and the later for President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent, before it becomes law.