Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
Bills for the establishment of two Nigerian maritime universities scaled through second reading during Thursday’s plenary at 9th Senate plenary.
The Senate on Thursday approved the 2nd reading of a bill seeking for the establishment of the Nigerian University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, sponsored by James Manager (Delta South) and the establishment of the University of Maritime Studies, Oron, sponsored by Senator Eyakenyi Etim (Akwa Ibom North)
The sponsor of the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko Bill, Senator James Manager (Delta South), while presenting the bill during the plenary presided by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo Agege, said he informed the Senate that bill had already passed through due process during the 8th, urging his colleagues to support the speedy passage of the 2nd reading of the education bill.
Addressing the Senate, Manager said: “Luckily Mr President, who is presiding today, is also very much aware of this particular bill and the journey of the bill itself. The current Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Ibrahim Barau Jibrin (Kano North), was also the former chairman who presided over the committee of this particular bill.
In support of Manager’s bill, Senator Aliyu Sabi (Niger North) urged the Senate to support the 2nd reading of the bill.
“This bill actually went through the whole process in the 8th Senate and of course action was not taken due to one or two issues,” he said.
“As it is, the idea of Nigerian Maritime University is something that is long overdue, and because the subject is non-controversial I think I would like to urge that my colleagues will just approve when the presiding officer poses the question so that we can proceed.”
Senator Barau Jibril (Kano North), while supporting the bill, noted that issues of funding which stalled the passage of the bill during the 8th Senate had already been resolved.
In his words: “There is no longer debate on this bill. It was passed and went through all the due processes and I chaired the committee in the 8th Senate. There was a little problem with the bill as regards the funding and Mr President requested for it to be corrected.
“This university is in existence, up and running and we know the importance of this university in this country. So I urge us to just pass it. What the President requested has also been captured in the bill so that we can send it for accent to Mr President,” he said.
In a similar development, Senator Eyakenyi sought the alignment of her colleagues to support the passage of the 2nd reading of the bill for the establishment of the University of Maritime studies.
In her address, the Akwa Ibom North Senator recalled the history and objectives of the maritime academy, whilst also outlining the importance of upgrading of the institution to a university.
“The academy is the foremost maritime institution in Nigeria,” she said, “and has graduated over 5000 Navy officers. It was designed as an integrated institution primarily for the education and training of shipboard officers. It is the only academy in Nigeria to conduct and certify seafarers.
“The drawback of the academy is that it was designed mainly to produce technicians and low-level personnel which were our needs in 1977. As a developing country, we need more than technicians to manage our maritime sector, thus the need to upgrade the institution to a degree-awarding institution.
“I, therefore, strongly urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.”
Declaring his support, Senator Albert Bassey noted that Nigeria has the longest coastline in Africa and so deserved a maritime university.
At the end of the deliberations, the Senate voted in favour of the second reading of both bills to be taken. The Presiding Senate President at the plenary, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, referred the bills to the Committee for Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, directing that it report back within four weeks.