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Senate rejects Amaechi’s position, endorses maritime varsity bill

As bill scales second reading

THE Senate, on Wednesday, rejected the position of the Minister of Transport, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, when it passed the establishment bill for Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, through the second reading.

The bill, sponsored by Senator James Manager, is seeking the passing into law of an Establishment Act for the Nigerian Maritime University at Okerenkoko.

Amaechi had recently condemned the establishment of the university in Okerenkoko, insisting that the location was awkward.

But the Senate, which received the bill moved by Senator Manager, decided to pass it through a second reading without  objection.

Senator Manager told the Senate that the institution was aimed at addressing educational opportunity, being the first in the whole of West Africa, adding that the bill was seeking to provide legal framework for the university which actually took  off at a temporary site at Kurutie in January.

The senator submitted that the maritime sector had huge potentials, adding that Nigeria should have a university for the purpose of  producing capable manpower for the sector which, according to him, was currently dominated by foreign interests.

He further submitted that Nigeria, being a country with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1,141,081 square kilometres, and given  its strategic Iocation in Africa, had the potential of being a major hub in shipping and other maritime activities.

He stated that in 2003, Goldman Sachs had identified Nigeria as one of the countries with potentials to rival countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China in the maritime sector.

Senators Gbenga Ashafa and Jibrin Barau also spoke in favour of the bill and enjoined their colleagues to back its passage.

When the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who presided over the sitting, called for voice vote, the bill was unanimously supported.

He, thereafter, referred the bill to the committee on Tertiary Education and Tetfund, with a mandate to report back within four weeks.

Amaechi, while addressing the Senate committee on January 19, announced the intention of the Federal Government to scarp the institution, saying that the location was not conducive for learning.

He cited incidences of insecurity in the area, adding that the project was a “misplacement of priority” because there are transport institutions in Zaria (Kaduna) and Oron (Akwa Ibom).

He later said in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State on June 14 that the Federal Government lacked the funds to continue with the school and that unless the N13 billion spent on the procurement of the land for the project was retrieved, the project stood scrapped.

When contacted on phone by the Nigerian Tribune on the development, Amaechi, in a simple reply, said “I am not the education minister.”