By Innocent Orok
The headline ‘Maritime University in Dire Need of Funding’ recently hits major maritime newspaper pages, both online and the conventional media and was accredited to the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Admistration and Safety Agency （NIMASA, Dr Dakukku Peterside during the first matriculation ceremony of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, South South region of Nigeria.
For those who have been following the development in the institution since its establishment in 2014, this statement credited to the NIMASA, DG on poor funding of the NMU is the height of hypocrisy in government and the bane of under development of the School and the Niger Delta region, championed by the same Sons and Daughters of the region in government.
Let’s reflect on some hard Facts about the NMU:
I The NMU was established by the Federal government in 2014, through NIMASA under the DGship of Patrick Akpolobokemi during the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s government.
II The Maritime University was establishrd alongside the NIMASA ship building yard to be located at the same venue to serve as a practical base for the students of the institution.
III Chief Government Ekpolopolo (Tompolo) site was use as temporaly site for the university , while construction works was ongoing at the permanent site after the grand-breaking ceremony by President Jonathan. The NMU was rectified by the Federal Executive Council ,the Vice Chancellor and Govering Board of the NMU was appointed before President Jonathan left office in 2015.
President Buhari Government and Rotimi Amaechi’s Campaigns to scrap the NMU:
As the Buhari admistration took over government on May 29th 2015, six months after the federal cabinet was formed and as soon as Mr Rotimi Amaechi became the Minister of Transportation, he launched a campaign to scrap the Maritime University. In fact at everything gathering of maritime stakeholders , when the issue concerning the NMU was raised, Amaechi will start blasting how Jonathan government wasted N11billion or N15billion depending on the amount that comes to his mouth first for land purchase alone for the NMU , assuring that the Buhari administration will not continue in that project.
We all recalled, the Niger Delta Avengers threats, the Minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachukwu with Amaechi confrontations and Pan Niger Delta elders positions on this matter that led to the federal government revisiting the Maritime University which Amaechi has foreclosed it’s existence .
Finally, the Federal government overruled Amaechi and prevented him from abandoning the NMU.
Again we all remember, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo’s role in rescuing the NMU from Amaechi ‘s plans to abandon it .
It is also on record that Amaechi in his nearly four years as minister of Transportation never visited the Maritime University nor the Maritime Academy of Nigeria , Oron, two critical training institutions that is under his ministry. Rather the transportation minister has been making efforts to undermine it’s progress in the last four years.
Resolving the Funding Imbroglio of NMU:
During the Public Hearing organised by both the Senate and House Committee on Marine Transports,for the NMU at the National Assembly, the bill which was sponsored by a ranking Senator James Manager of Delta South had proposed about seven funding contributions to aid the NMU growth and sustenable development.
According to a report by the Punch Newspaper of May 5th 2017
“The Senate , on Thursday , passed the bill for the establishment of Maritime University of Nigeria , Okerenkoko , Delta State , with a provision that the institution should be funded with 15 per cent of the annual budgetary allocation of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency .
The bill was sponsored by Senator James Manager ( Delta -South) .
The passage of the bill followed the adoption of the report by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and Tertiary Trust Fund chaired by Senator Barau Jibrin ( Kano – North ) .
The committee recommended that , “Additional funding for the university shall accrue from one per cent of the total annual budget of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources ; 0. 5 per cent of the total annual budget of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas ; 0.3 per cent of the total annual budget of all the oil -producing companies operating in the Niger Delta area .”
Funds would also be drawn from ‘the Tertiary Education Trust Fund ( TETFund ); 10 per cent of such sums in the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund as may be approved by National Assembly; and 15 per cent of the total annual budget of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ”
The federal government also approved N2billion take -off grant which was later increase to N5b for the Maritime University .
At the House of Representatives Public Hearing in 2017, the Ministry of Petroleum said it has released N2b to the NMU.
It was also speculated that NIMASA will release the remaining N3b to the institution being it’s baby.
NIMASA, DG, Crocodile Tears on Lack of Funds for the NMU :
At the House of Representatives Public Hearing in 2017 on the Bill for an Act to Establish Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State held at the National Assembly Complex,
it was shown clearly that NIMASA under Dr Dakukku Peterside and the Ministry of Transportation under his godfather, Mr Rotimi Amaechi as Minister never wanted the NMU to see the light of the day.
Dakuku at the hearing was not in support of the NMU being under the ministry of Education and to be supervised by the minister of Education. Though, NIMASA was nominated in the bill to have a representative in the NMU Council , the NIMASA , DG in his contribution at the hearing had argued that the Minister of transportation or the ministry representative be in the Maritime University Council.
This is the real issue why both the NMU and Maritime Academy of Nigeria bills are now forgotten documents in the National Assembly.
Our source in NIMASA hinted that, despite the directive that NIMASA should release N3b to the Maritime University in 2018, it’s only release N1billion to the school. But the same NIMASA, DG, a bona-fide son of the South South where the institution is located was making headlines as crying for funding for the University, what an hypocrisy.
The same Dakukku has been returning huge sums generated by NIMASA to the Federal coffers as surplus without him or Amaechi making any case to the president for the funding of the NMU, which according it’s Act, though not sign into law yet is own by NIMASA.
Suffice to conclude that appointing a transportation minister from the South South region has always beeen a sad tale to maritime industry and developement of maritime infrastructure in the Niger Delta region. I could vividly recalled that during the days of Abiye Precious Sekibo, also from Rivers State, who was minister of Transportation during Obasanjo regime, he never did anything to improve on the maritime industry or the South South region. In fact during Sekibo’s tenure as minister Transportation, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron suffered the most as a paltry N25million was always budgeted for capital projects on yearly basis without even releasing the amount back to back, despite the fact that there was no 5% funding from the NIMASA then to MAN, Oron.
Today at over 40years of existence the Maritime Academy , the only IMO recognised maritime institution in Nigeria is still crawling with political impositions mostly perpertrated by unpatriotic political appiontees from the Niger Delta region who suppose to champion the course for it’s development.
The same set of political gladiators, from the same region are here again to frustrate and bury the Maritime University with political infighting and deceits against their people and region.
One could have thought, the Minister of transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and his political son, Dr Dakukku Peterside would have leverage on their closeness to the President and powers that be to secure massive funds for the Nigerian’s only Maritime University for a proper financial footing.
It is also worthy to note that in that Dakukku Peterside’s ‘Cry of funding for NMU’ he has come to terms that NIMASA established the University to bridge the gap of manpower development for Nigeria as a maritime nation. It is also a fact that Nigeria is the only maritime nation today without a Maritime University.
If he knows all these, then, let him and his Minister who is also his godfather rescue the NMU from paucity of funds.
So prosterity will judge them as the two Niger Delta sons who stood for the Maritime University, when it needed them most. Enough of these hypocrisy of suffering your people, instead of making them happy.