OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has passed the Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta state.
The bill almost hit a brick wall over the location of the institution as Daniel Reyenieju (PDP, Delta) accused the Chairman of Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Umar Bako (APC, Niger) of insensitivity and reneging on a promise he made to him and Itsekiri elders over the location of the institution.
The bill entitled, ‘A bill for an act to establish the Maritime University, Okerekoko, Delta state and for related matters’ was sponsored by Sen. James Manager (PDP, Delta) and has already been passed by the Senate.
Mr. Reyeineju disclosed that the issue has the potential to cause war in the region if not handled properly, adding that Bako did not address some of the issues raised during the public hearing.
Hear him: “Those issues as we can see are not addressed by this report. I would be very stupid to pretend that I don’t know that minority would have their say while majority would have their way; the Chairman should have been at least been sensitive enough to have kept his promise; he is not fair enough.
“The location of the school is not the problem; the problem is the issues raised at the public hearing and the one he called me into his office for; issue was that he promised to include in the bill that there were going to be two campuses, I amm not seeing that in the bill.”
The Chairman of committee while responding to the allegation of insensitivity, said “Page 31 on personal explanation, has already taken care of the matter, there is a petition from the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, on the dispute over the name of the town. We have an Itsekiri and Ijaw issue; based on the issue of name, the Ijaw call the town Okerenkoko while the Itsekiri call the same place Okerenwiwi, but the most important thing is to have the school.
“I urged Hon. Daniel to look for a town populated by itsekiri so that we can put a campus there, we already made provision for it. This is a Senate bill, all we are doing is to concur.”
Reyenieju who was not satisfied with the explanation from the Chairman, further pressed on the issue, saying “if I make reference to the issue of location, it may send my people into war at home, the point of contention here is that he promised to name an Itsekiri town in the bill as campus.”
But Bako swiftly responded thus: “In the interpretation, we interpreted campus as any location referred to as campus. I have court rulings dating 1902 on this issue; this school belongs to Nigeria, not Niger Delta school, in the event of unrest in the Niger Delta the government could decide to move the school to anywhere.”
The Chairman of the session and Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf, intervened by asking Daniel to present his request upon which he submitted an Itsekiri town should be named in the bill.
In his reaction, Yakubu Dogara (APC, Bauchi) said that the naming of campus is purely administrative, saying “there is no law where campuses are named in a bill establishing a school or institution; all you need is establishment of the institution, naming or creation of campuses is purely administrative.”
The consideration of the bill resumed after the explanation appeared acceptable to Reyenieju.