“We are not going ahead with the university project proposed by NIMASA because we have an institution in Oron, we have Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria, and we have the Nigerian College of Aviation in Zaria which we could upgrade to a University status and NIMASA is proposing to build a new one”(Hon Rotimi Amaechi)
The above were the words of the minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibike Amaechi proposing to cancel the proposed Nigeria Maritime University project in Warri, Delta state. This project when completed will be the first and only maritime degree awarding institution in Nigeria. This project has the prospect of attracting students all over Nigeria and outside as the first choice maritime institution in Nigeria. The prospect of development that this project will attract to the people of Warri, Delta state and Niger Delta region cannot be over-emphasized.
Alas, the project that was birthed by a President from the Niger Delta region is proposed to be cancelled by a minister from the same Niger Delta region. What justification?
NMU(Warri) Not A Substitute
Though Amaechi tried to justify his position with mentions of similar institutions across Nigeria; Maritime Academy(NMA), Oron, Akwa Ibom state; Institute of Transport Technology(NITT), Zaria, Kaduna state; and College of Aviation Technology(NCAT), Zaria, Kaduna state, Amaechi failed to justify how the existence of these aforementioned institutions nullifies the need for NMU when non of the institutions are degree awarding.
For those that may not be aware, neither the NITT(Zaria), NCAT(Zaria), NMA(Oron) nor the proposed NMU(Warri) share the same scope. While NIIT deals completely with subjects and trainings relating to Transport Technology and studies, the NCAT(Zaria) deals completely with aviation matters, the Maritime Academy(Oron) has the scope of training personnel already in maritime sector and offers diploma programs to those interested in having career the sector, while the Proposed NMU(Warri) is aimed at preparing and training professionals and experts in the Maritime. The proposed NMU(Warri) has nothing to do with Aviation, which NCAT is meant to address nor the that of NITT, neither is it to take the functions of NMA(Oron) to award diplomas. In fact, the need for professionalism in maritime training has seen students moved to Regional Maritime University in Accra, Ghana to obtain maritime degrees. It is also on record that in 2009, the federal government made arrangement with Academy of Maritime Education and Training in India to train seafarers in maritime related degrees and boycotted NMA(Oron) because it could not serve the need.
If we consider all these, wouldn’t it be inappropriate for Amaechi to question the need for the project?
Addressing The Amaechi Questions:
During Amaechi’s speech, he asked some questions that I believe should be answered. The questions in italics were asked by Amaechi.
Who will attend the University?
Is it not obvious that the university when come to operation will provide opportunities to Nigerians that seek professionalism in the Maritime sector? Is it not to our advantage that instead of people going abroad to India, Ghana etc to study for maritime degree, Nigerians will rather take to study at home for the program?
How many parent will allow their children to go to such place where it propose to site the University?
Last time I checked, Warri is not a war-torn area neither is it in the control of terrorist. If people can live/work in Warri Refining and Petrochemical company without harm, if people can work in oil companies and servicing companies in Warri, what then is the argument of Amaechi?
What is the aim of the University that we cannot achieve in Oron where they have all the necessary infrastructure.
This is very clear… It will amount to absurdity for one to think that a maritime degree awarding institution is meant to serve same purpose as non-degree awarding institution. In fact, University of Lagos was established despite the presence of Yaba College Technology, both in Akoka because the purpose and scope of both are different. Similarly, as much as we need a maritime university, it doesn’t mean that we should erode maritime academy(Oron) that serves a different purpose. In fact, it is not possible of Oron(if upgraded to university) to be awarding diplomas and degrees at the same time. No serious institution does such. Hence, Oron as a training center cannot substitute the need of NMU(Warri).
Niger Delta Leaders are Niger Delta Problems:
The NITT(Zaria) was established by the Babangida(Niger state) regime in 1986, the NCAT(Zaria) was established in 1964 under the government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa(Bauchi state), the NMA(Oron) was established by General Olusegun Obasanjo(Ogun state) regime in 1979 and strengthened by President Shehu Shagari administration, but our own people seem not to be interested in NMU. While one group was busy inflating contract for land purchase, another person is proposing to stop it altogether. Will a Yorubaman act like that if it was to be cited in Ibadan or Osogbo? Will a Fulaniman act in such manner if it were to be in Gusau or Sokoto? We complain of “marginalisation” but we seem to be our own oppressors. NDDC was given to us by Obasanjo(Yoruba), LNG by Abacha(Kano), 13% by Abacha, Min of ND Affairs(Yar’adua), and Amnesty(Yar’adua). What significant thing have we benefitted from our own people?
It is my humble appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the unpatriotic position of Amaechi, which is capable of causing ethnic tension in the region. I’m optimistic that his government will go-ahead with the proposed NMU, Warri.
Tonye Barcanista is a Patriot and public affairs analyst. He is on twitter @TonyeBarcanista