Senate moves to establish varsity in Ogoni land

OrderPaperToday – The Senate has passed for second reading a bill to establish the Federal University of Environment, Science and Agriculture Ogoni Land, Rivers state.

Ogoni land in the Niger Delta region is a metaphor for environmental despoliation due to oil exploitation. The federal government is currently embarking on a massive clean-up of the area as recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The lead debate on the bill was presented by the Sponsor, Senator Magnus Abe during plenary on Thursday.

According to him, the establishment of the University will not incur immediate cost because a provision has been made in the UNEP report on the clean up of Ogoni land.

The bill was referred to the committee on Tertiary institutions and TETFUND. The committee is expected to report back in two weeks.

Speaking more on the bill during a press briefing, Magnus explained that the initial provision was for a center for excellence but “our feeling is that it won’t have certification which will make the money go to waste. So we decided to use this to provide a permanent investment by converting it into a university. It is not a new bill seeking for establishment of a university.”

Asked what measures to ensure that the bill is passed following the stream of veto of bills by President Muhammadu Buhari, Magnus noted that the bill is not like any other bill but only a response to what happened in Niger Delta, adding that it has no financial implications on the federal government.

Abe was asked if clean up had commenced following a statement from the federal government that contracts have been awarded, he said: “I am aware contracts have been awarded. The security situation however cannot allow contractual activities.

“Every day people are killed so it is impossible for me to say contractors are working. Any clean up without addressing the issue of security and pollution is a waste of everyone’s money. Because of public pressure, people want to see contracts awarded.”

The Rivers Senator expressed hope that the bill is passed before the end of the 8th assembly and in the case it fails to happens, he stated that “lawmaking is a continuous exercise. If it is not concluded, it will picked up in the 9th assembly. My prayers is that we finish up with the bills and send it to the executive.”

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