As stakeholders still grapple with the refusal of assent to the bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) has said that the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko is not a product of the need assessment by the maritime stakeholders but a personal decision of the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi.
The President of NAMM, Capt. Tajudeen Alao who stated this in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos recently argued that it was not part of NIMASA’s mandate to start a University adding that it was a personal decision of the NIMASA’s leadership not that of the management.
According to him,” The man who started the University did not plan; it was just out of personal interest. The initial budget for the University, about N14 billion has never been approved for any University in Nigeria. It was not part of NIMASA’s mandate to start a University; it was a personal decision of the leadership not the management.
“If you want to start a University, where is the ground work? What are the courses? Is it the stakeholders who wanted those courses? Is there any need assessment for the University? Where are the lecturers? I understood they are wearing uniform including the Vice Chancellor, they are cadets. We should not do something by Act, National cadetship programme was done by Act, it was not done as a result of need assessment or by research”.
On the rejection of bill to establish the University by President Buhari on account of multiple sources of funding, Capt. Alao posited that if the sources of funding for the University were going to be double taxation for the industry, there was the need for the beneficiaries which in this case were the stakeholders to take a second look at it just as he added that if the source of funding also was NIMASA’s statutory 5% and it was going to be shared with other federal government owned maritime institutions, there was need also for the stakeholders to look at it again.
He however suggested that the University should not stand on its own but should be part of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron so that the 5% from the stakeholders’ contributions could be used to sustain it and other agencies in the maritime sector could support it as well as they used to do in the past out of their promotional functions.
In his words,” What is the budget we are talking about? The budget is astronomical. Regional consideration should not be the major force driving it because after all, the products will be for all Nigerians, for the benefit of the industry, Nigeria and the sub region. But we have to be very objective. When the Academy was started, there were supposed to be source of funding. When the NMA Decree 10 of 1987 came in, it made provisions for additional funding, knowing that the Academy started in 1979 before NMA and if they have been getting the full money and the Academy is still limping, you have to look at adding additional burden on this but for me, I believe it should be part of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron. I do not see the University standing on its own; it should be part of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron to justify leveraging on the 5% of NIMASA gross income towards maritime education”.
Reminded that the petroleum was mentioned as part of the contributors to the funding of the University following Amaechi’s refusal to fund the University, a development which prompted the former Minister of State Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu to volunteer funding the University, he said,” It was all political statement. Amaechi’s statement was not well thought out, it was a political statement. The Minister of State for Petroleum too was making a political statement to quell the agitation in the region. Admiralty University is there in Asaba as well, it was all political because it was not a planned institution”.
He continued,” There was no need for the University in the first place because FUTO, UNILAG among others are already running transport and maritime courses. If the purpose is to have administrative support for the industry not the technical, there are already existing Universities offering those courses. There even are people who studied abroad especially this Marine and Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering who had nowhere to lecture.
“So, if we upgrade Maritime Academy of Nigeria to University and that (NMU) serves as annex for Oron, one will be specialized and one will be support and if we continue to say Maritime Academy is underfunded after forty years, where are you going to get the money for this University? It is even going to be an additional task for the stakeholders”.
It may be recalled that President Buhari a fortnight ago refused to assent to the bill to establish the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State citing multiple sources of funding for the University as reason for refusing his assent, a development which did not go down well with many stakeholders especially from the South-South geopolitical zone of the country.
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