Exclusive: Maritime University, Okerenkoko Going Down

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January 29th, 2016 Protest in Delta State Government House, Asaba over alleged cancellation of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko

By David Owei

Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State commenced lectures on Thursday, April 12th, 2018 with 196 students registered as its first intakes.

Announcing the commencement of academic activities in the institution, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande in a statement said; “In fulfillment of the Buhari administration’s commitment to develop the Niger Delta in line with its new vision for the region, the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, has today commenced lectures for the 2017/18 academic year.”

The school started with three faculties, namely transport, engineering and environmental management.

However, since the commencement of activities in the institution has been plagued by a litany of problems ranging from financial handicap to internal wranglings which may eventually make the school to crumble if care is not taken and the crisis is not nipped in the bud.

Crisis ridden institution

Insiders confided in GbaramatuVoice that the major crisis that the school is battling to overcome is shortage of funds. Another issue that is affecting the institution is that the students are complaining of below standard teaching methods that are applicable in the school.

A student who spoke to GbaramatuVoice on the issue on condition of anonymity stressed that majority of the students are becoming frustrated about the quality of the teaching methods that is adopted in imparting knowledge in them.

Students complain about poor teaching 

“The teaching method here is very pathetic. You’ll think that we are still in secondary school with the kind of things we are being taught. The whole thing is so boring and we are not gaining any added knowledge outside what we got while in secondary school. Most of us are getting frustrated such that we may end up not returning to the school as from the next academic session. We may be forced to stay back at home or go elsewhere to complete our studies.

“What is more worrisome is that nobody is prepared to tell us what we do not know. Nobody responds to our enquiries on how things are going,” our source gushed.

A management staff, who spoke with GbaramatuVoice on condition of anonymity, stated that the allegations/claims of the students are not correct.

“We are always prepared to give response to any enquiry from any quarter including the students.  As we speak now the they are doing their semester exams which will qualify them for 200 level.

“In a couple of days from today students would have all finished their examinations and proceeded to their respective homes,” our source stated.

Financial Constraints

On financial challenges, he disclosed: “Our major problem is money. We are experiencing money shortage as a result of the bill which the National Assembly made but which has not yet been passed into law.

“Without the signing of the bill all those that are supposed to contribute to our purse cannot do that. For instance, the National Universities Commission (NUC) has not approved any money for us.

“For now, we have been running around sourcing for funds which we will use to carry out projects or pay for one service or the other. Most of this running around for funds is being done by the Vice-Chancellor who sometimes has to borrow money in anticipation of the balance of N3billion of the N5 billion approved for the institution in the budget.”

GbaramatuVoice gathered reliably that the shortage of funds has resulted in non-repayment of salaries.

Internal Wrangling

There is said to be internal wrangling among some principal officers of the institution such that some camp have been created with the Vice-Chancellor and librarian on one side while the registrar and bursar are in the other camp.

This misunderstanding a source stated has led to a sort of a brick wall been erected such that money needed to carry out projects end up a herculean task as the signing of such documents for approval is stalled.

“As we speak, the issue has been tabled with the National Assembly via a petition which will be handled soon.

Maritime University is underfunded

Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) issued a press statement signed by its president, Pereotubo Oweilaemi alleging poor funding of the institution:

The Ijaw Youth Council, (IYC), worldwide wish to draw the public attention to the sorry state of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State. IYC visited the School and reliably confirmed that the Federal Government has abandoned it completely.

The pitiable condition of the institution has threatened its continued existence. The Council on our unscheduled visit to the School was made to understand that the FG only paid N2b out of the N5b take off grant it has earlier pledged to pay. Even the N3b financial appropriation in the 2018 budget for the School has not been released to it. As we speak now, majority of the staffs have deserted the school as the Institution is unable to pay its staff for many months, while the Vice Chancellor of the Institution is moving round the Country sourcing for funds.

The leadership of the IYC, National having visited the school has gotten first hand information about its functionality. It is regrettable that the present government has reneged on its promises to pay due attention to the school. What we find out on our visit is an eyesore. The generating plant that has been supplying power to the institution is not working as the management has no finance to buy diesel. Students and the staffs are living in hell in the School building because there is no light. Water supply to the School has stopped because there is no light to pump water.

Neglect of Maritime University

While FG is paying due attention to some other newly established institutions in the Country such as the Nigerian Army University, the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko which is the only economic benefit to the economically dejected, marginalised and pauperised Niger Delta people has been completely abandoned by the government of President Mohammadu Buhari. After all the promises to the Niger Delta people which have hitherto reduced the growing tension occasioned by the resurgence of the bleak oil crisis in the region, the FG is paying lip service to the demands of the people.

The Nigerian government should not think it can always buy peace with lip service by given non-implementable promises to the people. Starving the institution of funds upon the corresponding peace the Country is enjoying in the oil sector means that the present Government is still neck deep in perpetuating its illicit agenda to scrap the School. The FG is playing with fire. Though we do not pray for crisis in the region, if however the government’s lukewarmly provocative and incisive stance instigates any breakdown of law and order in the region then the present government should be held responsible.

President Buhari should as a matter of urgency release funds for the School. We will vehemently resist any move to scrap the Institution through the starving it of funds. People of goodwill should prevail on the government to do the needful before things get out of control. We cannot guarantee that the existing peace in the region will be sustained if the FG keeps on maintaining its cynical stand on the School.