Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko Bill Passes Third Reading

The Nigerian Senate has passed the “Bill for an Act to Establish the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State and for related matters, 2023” on Thursday, November 16, 2023.

The bill was sponsored by Bamidele Michael Opeyemi, the Senate Leader from Ekiti Central.

The bill aims to establish the Nigeria Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, encourage the advancement of learning, and identify the technological problems and needs of the maritime industry.

It will also find solutions to them, as well as develop and offer academic and professional programs leading to the award of diplomas, first degrees, post-graduate research, and higher degrees.

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The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND, which submitted its report on November 16, 2023.

The bill was read for the third time and subsequently passed by the upper legislative chamber on the same day.

Senator Joel Onowakpo explained the merits involved in the passage of the Bill.

Onowakpo explained that the Bill which will now be sent to President Bola Tinubu to be signed into law included the growth of Nigeria’s Blue economy.

Joel-Onowakpo 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 the 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.”

According to the Senator, 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.

Senator Joel-Onowakp said:

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.

“The 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.”

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