Bill For An Act of Establishment of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Passes Third Reading




*******as Joel-Onowakpo highlights its importance to blue economy, and Niger Deltans*

Oviri Kelvin, Abuja

The Bill for an Act of establishment of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, has scaled through third reading in the hallowed chamber of the Senate and will be forwarded for concurrence to the Green Chamber of the National Assembly.

The Bill sponsored on Tuesday, 1 August, 2023, by distinguished Senator Joel-Onowakpo Thomas representing the good people of Delta South scaled through the second and third reading on 16 and 17 November, 2023, due to its importance to the people of Niger Delta and to the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector.

In the debate by Senator Joel-Onowakpo, he highlighted the merits involved in the passage of the Bill not excluding the growth of Nigeria Blue economy, access of constituents living in the creeks to quality education and lack of such standard institution in the oil-rich region of southern Delta State despite the humongous revenue the region generates to the coffers for national development since 1957.

According to the exceptional first timer in the Red Chamber, if the Bill is signed into law, the institution will save the federal government huge foreign exchange by refining, training and producing the needed manpower, expertise and technical know-how required by the Nigerian maritime sector to compete with other key players in the industry.

Recall that the Bill was first sponsored in the 9th national assembly but was unable to be assented to before the terminal date on May 29, 2023 of the immediate past administration by President Muhammadu Buhari, despite the existence of the institution since 2014, nine years ago.

However, the Emede-born tax expert of international repute during his campaigns, had promised the good people of Delta South of his desire to ensure the Act of Establishment of the institution sited in Warri Southwest Local Government Area of Delta State comes to fruition and that he is walking the talk.

He said, “Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, my name is Joel-Onowakpo Thomas, representing the good people of Delta South Senatorial District. Mr. President, permit me to lead the debate of this important Bill for the establishment of Nigerian Maritime University of Okerenkoko.

“The Bill was read for the first time in this hallowed chamber on Tuesday, 1 August, 2023. Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it is important to note that this Bill being re-presented today, for second reading, was passed by both chambers towards the end of the 9th assembly. Unfortunately, the President was unable to assent to it before May 29, 2023, the terminal date of the last administration.

“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, the Nigerian Maritime University was established following the groundbreaking ceremony on the 10th May, 2014 by the former president of Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at Okerenkoko of Delta State, in the creeks of the Niger Delta, to cub youth restiveness and to bridge the educational gap.

“The Bill is a bold step towards not only addressing the educational backwardness of the people of the difficult Niger Delta terrain, but also for joining the leagues of countries like the United States of America, South Korea, India, China, Britain, Panama, Canada, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Ghana, as countries with such universities as platform for the training of topmost, top class manpower for the maritime industry,” Joel-Onowakpo explained during the debate.

Notwithstanding, he underscored that the present existence of a maritime institution in Oron, Akwa-Ibom state, cannot provide the manpower needed for the fully functional and nonfunctional ports in the country but with the establishment of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, the shortfalls experienced in the sector will be ameliorated.

He continued: “It is noteworthy that as at today, there is a Maritime Academy at Oron, Akwa-Ibom state. However, with the level activities in the maritime sector, such as the ongoing work at the Lekki Deep Seaport, Badagry port, the existing Sapele, Burutu, Koko ports that are yet to be explored and developed, which require huge manpower, the Maritime University of Oron alone may not be able to meet up with providing the required manpower for the sector hence the original decision to set up this one.

Senate should note now that the country is set to make the blue economy as a major revenue earning window with the establishment of the Ministry of Blue Economy by Mr President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR. The passage of this Bill to enable the university to provide the needed manpower cannot be overemphasised.

“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it is important to note that Delta state contributes more than 30% of the total oil and gas revenue of the federation and more specifically, it was in Uzere, in Isoko South Local Government in Delta state and Delta South Senatorial District specifically, that started the first exploration of oil in 1957. Till Today, it is the largest petroleum producing community in Nigeria.

“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it will interest you to know that there is no government institution of this calibre in the entire area, thus forcing the youths from the region to seek for university education very far outside their region. When fully functional, the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko will provide accessible education to most of the young constituents in the southern part of Delta State, thereby reducing the chances of youth restiveness and illiteracy level.

“The objectives for which this university was established among others are: To encourage the advancement of learning and to hold out to all persons without distinction of race, greed, sex or political conviction, the opportunity of acquiring higher education in maritime technology. To develop and offer academic and professional programmes leading to the award of diplomas, first degrees, postgraduate research and higher degrees with emphasis on planning, adaptive, technical, maintenance, developmental and productive skills in the engineering, scientific and allied professional disciplines relating to maritime resources with the aim of producing socially matured men and women with capability not only to understand rules and adapt technologies in the maritime industry but also to improve on them and develop new ones.

“To act as an agent and catalyst through postgraduate training, research and innovation for the effective and economic utilisation, exploitation, conservation of the country’s maritime resources. To offer to the general public, particularly the maritime industry as a form of public service, the results of training, research and to foster the practical application of these results. To establish appropriate relationships with other national institutions involving training, research and development of deployment of technologies in the maritime sector.

“To identify the technological problems and the needs of the maritime industry, and to find solution to them within the context of overall national development. To provide and promote sound basic scientific training as a foundation for the development of maritime technology and applied science taking into account indigenous cultures and the need to enhance national unity and finally to undertake any other activities appropriate for a maritime university of the highest standards.

“Mr. President and distinguished colleagues, the maritime sector of our economy has very high potentials, and it requires high level of technical scientific acquisitive skills to drive it. The sector today. is dominated by foreign interests. A very few of such kind of professionals were trained abroad. This university, when fully operational will save the federal government huge foreign exchange currently deployed to capacity building abroad. Mr. President, distinguished colleagues the enactment of this Bill will help in transforming educational fortunes in Nigeria in producing the desired manpower and expertise for the maritime industry now that Nigeria is yearning for local content in the industry following the passage of the Content Development Bill into law.

“In line with our Order 76(3), the compendium of financial implication is hereby attached. This bill seeks to provide a legal framework for the Nigerian Maritime University which started off on the 10th of May 2014 and functional using a befitting temporary site at Okerenkoko. Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I urge you all to support this Bill for the second reading I so move, thank you,” Senator Joel-Onowakpo concluded.

It is noteworthy that should the Bill be signed into law by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the institution will be backed by law while earning a global and international recognition including its certified graduands, courses and awarded degrees.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here