President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the take-off of academic activities at Maritime University Okerenkoko, Delta state, effective from October 2017.
This was disclosed at the end of a closed door meeting on Friday May 5, 2017 between Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa at the Presidential Villa on Friday in Abuja.
In a statement released from the Office of the Vice President by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, it revealed that the take-off of the institution was in a clear effort to further the Niger Delta New Vision policy of the Buhari administration and in line with the demands championed by major stakeholders in the region.
“Coming as one of the several follow-up actions to the recent Presidential level interactive engagements with the Niger Delta oil producing communities, the prompt implementation of directive on the re-opening of the Maritime University to the Ministry of Education is to be coordinated by a 5-man inter-agency Committee headed by the Minister of Education.
Other members of the Committee will come from:
i) The Ministry of Petroleum Resources,
ii) National Universities Commission (NUC)
iii) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) &
iv) Office of the Deputy Governor of Delta State
The Committee is to finalize the ongoing processes towards the opening of the Nigeria Maritime University in the 2017/2018 Academic Session. The Committee will work collaboratively with the current Principal Officers and the Governing Council of the institution.”
The statement further stated that, besides this directive, and in further demonstrating its unalloyed commitment to a new vision for the Niger Delta, the Buhari Presidency has been working assiduously to evolve a number of robust strategies for key multi-sectoral outcomes and deliverables for the people of the oil-producing communities.
Some of those include:
a) General guidelines issued by the Federal Government, reaffirming its commitment and outlining its objectives towards the establishment of Modular Refineries in the Niger Delta.
*This includes, the development of the technical criteria for issuing operating licenses that is now in final stages of drafting and would be released soon.
b) A roadmap for addressing regional development challenges is being developed by an inter-agency working group comprising of Ministry of Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. This group is working in partnership with experts seconded by Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and key resource persons financed by a bi-lateral international development partner.
*The roadmap will be based on the framework of the 16-point agenda developed by PANDEF.
c) A strategy for community-based participation in pipeline protection and policing is underway and will be validated with series of engagement processes, collaboratively with PANDEF, oil communities and other communities in the region that play host to the vast network of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta,” the statement added.
While intimating the press of his meeting with the Presidency, the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa said he was in the Presidential Villa to show gratitude to the Federal Government.
He asserted the restoration of peace in Delta State and noted that the State Government is actively working with the FG on several of the plans, including the opening of the Maritime University.
“It is a step in the right direction. So, I came to appreciate government and to discuss some other issues with,’’ he added.
Okowa commended Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who he said ensured peace in Delta in particular.
“If you notice, in the past few months, there has been peace in Delta state. So, I wanted to appreciate his visit to Delta state because that definitely helped us in the peace process.
“And just yesterday, the bill for the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, passed third reading at the Senate. That is definitely a very strong plus for us.’’
He also commended federal government on the modular refineries initiative and emphasised the prospects of revenue earnings from the facilities in Niger Delta.
The governor expressed the hope that such refineries would complement regular refineries in the country.
It would be recalled that under the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President undertook visits to oil producing States in the Niger Delta. During the visits, series of townhall meetings and consultations were held with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in a confidence building effort.
The establishment of the university is one of the demands of Niger Delta militants to embrace peace.