E.K Clark accused Amaechi of deceitfully avoiding to mention that the Take-Off Campus of NMU at Kurutie which boasts of competitive and acceptable standard facilities was ready. According to Clark, the structures at Kurutie met the standards of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the facility was part of the property of NMU for which NIMASA paid N13billion.
The development of the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko in Delta state had been halted since the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi opined that NMU was a waste of resources as money required to complete the university had been used to only acquire the land, but the Senate has injected a lease of life to the project when the NMU crossed the second reading at the legislative chamber last week.
The Minister’s call for scrapping of the project was followed by protests in Delta state and it was fiercely countered by Dr. E.K Clark who wrote an open letter to President Mohammadu Buhari titled; “An Open Letter To His Excellency, President Muhhammadu Buhari, GCFR, On The Current Issues In The Niger Delta And Specifically The Case Of The Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State And The Case Of Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo)- A Passionate Appeal For Your Intervention”
Apart from the huge amount already utilized in acquiring the land, the Minister had also added that Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, needed the funds to be developed into a maritime university before NMU should be constructed.
Surprisingly, Rotimi Amaechi’s revealed another shocker when he talked about the establishment of a Transport university while delivering the opening address at the recent regional training workshop organized for Port State Control (PSC) Inspectors for West and Central Africa in Lagos.
This led many to ask the difference between a Maritime University and the proposed Transport University? Whose side of the prism is right? Are there sufficient funds to complete the NMU and also guarantee the infrastructural developments needed to upgrade MAN, Oron to a degree awarding status? Was Amaechi being biased as E.K Clark accused him in his letter?
“We are not going ahead with the university project proposed by NIMASA because we have an institution in Oron… NIMASA is proposing to build a new one. How many parents will allow their children to go to such place where NIMASA proposes to site it?” Amaechi queried the location of NWU.
E.K Clark referred to the statements of the Transport minister as “very insulting”, “callous” and “vindictive” on the Okerenkoko people. He posits that Okerenkoko is a major community in the Gbaramatu kingdom on the Escravos River and Gbaramatu is well known for its vast deposit of mineral resources with combined oil wells that run into 100s.
Clark believed that Rotimi Amaechi’s plans are aimed at executing a personal vendetta against the people of Niger Delta. He admonished Amaechi to retrace his steps and reconcile with the people, emphasizing that Amaechi was appointed as Minister to represent Rivers state (Niger Delta people), based on constitutional provision.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu disagreed with Amaechi, saying he was in support of the project, drawing a loud applause from the audience in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
“First, let me say on Okerenkoko University, I disagree with the Minister of Transport. Any facility that is located in the South-South we should work close to developing it. I don’t care the circumstances under which you are placed.” Kachikwu said.
However, the Senate has gone contrary to the Minister as it endorsed the development of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and also began the bill to upgrade Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron to a degree awarding status.
How would the nation develop and maintain these two important institutions? Are the funds readily available? Although it is the prerogative of the government to decide what kind of universities are necessary, the interest and needs of the sector also has to be put into consideration.