Three maritime varsities take off this year as Buhari pushes rapproachment


* Oron, Okerenkeko, Navy

The issue of a maritime university was one the sore points of the relationship between the oil region and the then in-coming Muhammadu Buhari administration that was seen as anti-Niger Delta for the fact that it pushed out Goodluck Jonathan. Pipeline bombing resumed and other hostilities were played up, spiced fears of cpamp-down of former appointees, seizing of juicy assets, court actions, and so called plans to Islamize the south.

Buhari responded by sending the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, and some other top functionaries of his administration, to douse the fears. A group (PANDEF) was formed to interface with the presidenvy on this matter on behalf of the Niger Delta. Some points were agreed upon to for Buhari’s points of commitment.

The major point was that the Maritime University being located in Okerenkeko that was being probed should be allowed to fly on, despite huge sleeze uncovered. This was while the new FG felt that the maritime academy in Oron that was being proposed for a university should go on rather than the one in Okekenkero.

Part of the reconciliation point was to allow both Oron and Okekenkero to run. As this was going on, the Navy has set up a maritime university too. With the FG now disposed to allowing anything called a maritime university, and with the Marine Club of Nigeria saying Nigeria can easily absorb 20 such maritime universities, the FG seems to allow all, and each is angling to start admitting students in the current academic year, 2017/2018.

Details: Now, in furtherance of the Buhari administration’s commitment to develop the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, is set to commence the admission of students for the 2017/2018 academic year.

This was one of the highlights of the meeting of the Niger Delta Inter-Ministerial Committee on Friday, called to assess progress on the implementation of the Buhari administration’s New Vision for Niger Delta.

The meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja which was chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, also received reports of ongoing development projects being implemented in the region.

A total of 196 students have so far been accepted into the University to commence their academic programmes, while 76 applications are still pending. Lectures are expected to fully commence later in April.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved an increase in the take-off grant allocated to the University from the N2 billion earlier announced to N5 billion. This sum was included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly in November 2017.

Similarly, an additional N1 billion was approved by the president to support essential infrastructure works and staff recruitment in the University in November 2017.

The Delta State government has also donated two 500KVA generators to the University.

The Maritime University was recently granted approval in January by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session.

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had listed the University in its Central Admissions Processing System in January 24, 2018, while interviews for academic staff positions were conducted between 1st and 2nd of March, 2018.

The NUC had approved that academic activities commence in three faculties namely; Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management, with a combined total of 13 departments with various specializations – from Marine Engineering, Marine Economics to Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture.

It would be recalled that, following the commencement of operations in 2017, the university had, in November 2017, invited job applications for academic staff with advert placement in major national dailies.

The meeting was also briefed on the progress of the modular refineries. One set of modular refinery package shipment has since arrived Nigeria, and after undergoing clearance at customs, would be installed in Delta State; while another set, which is expected to arrive the country in April this year, would be installed in Rivers State.

The operation of the modular refineries would include the involvement of communities where they are located. Osinbajo said this would ensure that communities benefit directly  from the refineries which would help create jobs and engage youths in the region.

It would be recalled that in December last year, the Inter-Ministerial Committee received a report that 38 licensed privately financed greenfield and mini-modular refineries investors have so far indicated interests in the establishment of refineries in the region, with at least ten (10) of the licensed refineries investors at an advanced stage of development.

On the progress of Ogoni clean-up, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) under the Ministry of Environment, is set to commence the procurement process for contracting experts for the remediation and clean-up of impacted sites. This process is open to competent national and international companies involved in environment, water and livelihood projects.

In attendance at the meeting were the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani; Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jubril; the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere; the Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside; and the Special Adviser to the President on the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig-General Paul Boroh (rtd).

Others at the meeting include the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Adamu A. Rasheed; the Vice Chancellor of the Maritime University, Prof. Mrs. Ongoebi Etebu; and representatives of other relevant MDAs.