Investigations carried out by Shipping Position Daily Newspaper has revealed that not less than 776 cadets of the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko in Delta state are in dark as to what becomes their academic status, following the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to decline assent to the bill to establish the institution. Recall that the University was granted approval by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session. Buhari had however declined assent to a bill seeking the establishment of the university. The decision was conveyed to the 8th senate. Buhari had stated that the excessive proposed source of funding for the institution as the major reason for his decline.
“I am declining my assent to the bill because the funding provisions are grossly excessive and will disrupt the operation of a number of government agencies and institutions,” the letter reads. However, investigation carried out by Shipping Position Daily, reveals that the institution which was set up in 2013, currentlyhas more than 776 students. It was gathered that 300 undergraduates wrote the first and second semester exams in 2018 while the University pre-screened 476 new students in January and have commenced academic activities for the 2018/2019 session. Of this number, the faculty of Engineering had the highest number of pre-screened students comprising 280 students. The NUC approved that academic activities commence in three faculties namely; Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management. The Faculty of Transport has four departments, namely: Nautical Science, Transport Logistics Management, Marine Economics and Finance, and Port Management. The Faculty of Engineering has five departments – Marine Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Petroleum and Gas Engineering, and the Faculty of Environmental Management has four departments: Environmental Management and Pollution, Meteorology and Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Marine Geology. You will also recall that In November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari approved an increase in the take-off grant allocated to the University from the N2billion earlier announced to N5billion This sum was included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly in November 2017. Similarly, an additional N1B was approved by the President to support essential infrastructure works and staff recruitment in the University in November 2017. Speaking with our Correspondent over the weekend, The National President of the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA), Engineer Matthew Alalade urged President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the Maritime university bill considering the population of the country and numbers of students seeking admission into the University. Alalade while speaking to Shipping Position Daily exclusively gave kudos to President Buhari for signing the Anti Piracy bill, but urged the president to revisit the Maritime university bill, as he opined that signing the bill will be of great benefit to the country. According to him, "We thanked the president for signing the Anti- Piracy bill, the Anti-piracy bill will empowers the relevant agencies to prosecute any vessels used for maritime crime "In addition to addressing maritime insecurity, the new law fulfils the international requirement for a stand-alone legislation on piracy, as against the approach of using the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board Amendment Bill to criminalise piracy. "The new law also vests exclusive jurisdiction for the determination of matters under the Act in the Federal High Court. "It empowers relevant authorities mentioned under the Act to seize vessels or aircraft used for maritime crimes anywhere in Nigeria and in international waters or in the jurisdiction of any country where the ship is reasonably believed to be a pirate-controlled ship or aircraft. "I will only urged president Buhari to revisit the Maritime university bill as well, because this will be of great benefit to as many cadets who are seeking to pursue a career in Maritime and this will also be of great benefit to the country as well".