The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has lamented President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign into law the maritime university bill and urged the National Assembly to veto it.The President had in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives refused to assent to the Maritime University Establishment Bill because of the diverse funding mechanisms provided for in the law by the National Assembly.
But President of the IYC, Eric Omare, in a statement yesterday, stated that the diverse funding mechanisms provided for in the law were justified in the peculiar circumstances of the Maritime University. He said: “We wish to remind President Buhari that the institution is part of the special response to the historical deprivation of the Niger Delta region which was conceived by the Obasanjo administration, nurtured under the Yar’Adua/Jonathan era and came to reality in the Jonathan administration with the laying of the foundation in 2014 with academic activities kicking-off under the Buhari administration in 2017.
“It is also important to recall that the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, whose ministry ought to fund the institution, clearly stated in Uyo in 2016 that the transportation ministry would not fund the institution. This gave rise to the offer by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to provide funding for the institution through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources considering the fact that the area the institution is located produces the petroleum resources of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, under the NIMASA Act, five per cent of their yearly budget is dedicate to research and training; hence, it is only logical for NIMASA to statutorily contribute to the funding of the only maritime university. It is these funding arrangements that were captured in the bill by the National Assembly, which President Buhari is objecting to.
“Therefore, considering the historical trajectory of the maritime university, which we have provided above, the funding mechanisms provided for by the National Assembly are justified and should be sustained in the interest of the survival of the institution. The institution is sited in the difficult Niger Delta terrain and needs a lot of money to survive. President Buhari has no justification to refuse assent to the bill.”
The IYC, which said it believed that the President was being misled by the cabal in Aso Rock who do not want the institution to succeed, urged the National Assembly under the leadership of Senate President Saraki and Speaker Dogara to veto the presidential assent and pass the bill into law.