Gbaramatu Council of Chiefs have cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari not to make a repeat of what happened 20 years over the rumoured relocation of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and the Ship Dockyard from its original location.
In a letter to Mr President signed by Chief Jonathan Ari, the Puwei, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, the Ibe-Benemowe, Chief Nelson Ogelegbanwei, the Tonwei and Chief Clark Gbenewei, the Tubainghanwei of the kingdom, which was made available to GbaramatuVoice said there was a palpable apprehension that hopes of a take-off of academic activities in 2017 may not be realized over alleged positions in some quarters that the National Assembly was yet to pass the enabling bill of the institution to law, which according to them was fallacious.
The Chiefs have also urged the National Assembly to expedite action on translating the NMU, Okerenkoko bill to law.
The letter read in part, “The NMU, Okerenkoko which had long secured approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and was indeed established pursuant to a subsisting Act of the National Assembly, the NIMASA Act 2007.
“In the specific enabling law for the institution, the bill is already at the Committee stage. At the Public Hearing organized by the Committee on January 31st, 2017, the Senate leadership voiced its determination to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the bill for the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, is passed to law” it emphasized.
The Chiefs in the letter further hinted that the Presidential peace initiative of declaring NMU, Okerenkoko a done deal made the Ijaw nation, especially the Gbaramatu Ijaw people to envisage the commencement of academic activities in September/October 2017, not until they recently received worrisome information from some quarters that some people they described as evil in collaboration with some evil forces in Mr. President’s cabinet were hell bent to ‘kill’ NMU by relocating the institution from its original site (Okerenkoko) to another community entirely.
The letter continues “Your Excellency, we wish to notify you and the world about plans by the anti-progressive elements in your government to relocate the Ship Dockyard, the Laboratory of sorts to the NMU, Okerenkoko to Koko, distance away in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State.
“In their unbridled desire to ‘kill’ the institution, they do not mind compromising the national interest. A historical background may help throw light on the folly of this ill-advised move.”
The Chiefs brought to the President’s memory that the concept of a Nigerian Maritime University was nursed in August 2012 at a Presidential Retreat on the maritime sector convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan with a view to unlocking the potentials of the Maritime sector in the overall development of the economy.
Stressing that “A major fallout of the Presidential Retreat was the need to establish a Maritime University for the development of manpower, job and wealth creation opportunities for the Maritime sector.
“Accordingly, request by the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMT) for a Maritime University vide letter No. TPROC/NIMASA/P/C/653/1/78 of Dec 24, 2013 got anticipatory Presidential approval vide PRES/99/MT/161/81/SGF/-3/578 of 27 Dec 2013.
“It was in furtherance of this anticipatory approval that NIMASA began efforts towards establishing a degree-awarding Maritime University capable of producing International Maritime Organization (IMO) -recognised professionals in the sector.
“To meet this need, the Federal Ministry of Transport on 17/1/2014 constituted an inter-Ministerial Agency/Committee with membership drawn from the FMT, NIMASA, Nigerian University Commission (NUC) and other experts,” the letter added.
The Gbaramatu traditional council of chiefs stressed that NMU, Okerenkoko, was designed as a multi-institutional complex, adding that the NMU, Okerenkoko and the Ship Dockyard component were sited on a large expanse of land with a view to perfect learning and make the university meet IMO standards.
According to them, it is demonic and totally unacceptable for the Ship Dockyard component of the NMU, Okerenkoko, to be relocated to a distant territory on alleged fallacious claim that the rivers are not deep enough, emphasising that it was ditto ridiculous against the background that painstaking tested and established the area around Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu kingdom to be deep enough for the Deep Sea Port of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project.
“Mr. President, should it not shock you that the same river proposed as the Deep Sea Port of the EPZ project is the same river held out by the anti-progressive elements in your government as being, at once, too shallow for the Ship Dockyard component of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko?” the Chiefs alerted
While expressing optimism on the President’s determination to change the fortunes of the Niger Delta, even through ensuring the smooth kick-off of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, the Chiefs reminded the President of the avoidable Warri crisis 20 years ago occasioned by the relocation of the headquarters of Warri South-West Local Government Area (LGA) from Ogbe-Ijoh, an Ijaw area to Ogidigben, an Itsekiri territory, warning that attempt to repeat such by relocating NMU, Okerenkoko to a far away Koko community of Itsekiri extraction may result to a fresh crisis that may be worst than the one experienced 20 years ago.