Few days after President Muhammad Buhari declined assent to the Nigerian Maritime University Bill, a frontline maritime lawyer; Emmanuel Nwagbara, has disagreed with the decision of the president, saying that the university is one of the infrastructures needed to foster maritime activities in Nigeria.
He also added that the establishment of the university will help the country attain respect among the committee of maritime nations.
Explaining further, Nwagbara, who disclosed this in a chat with Shipping Position Daily in Lagos last week, also reiterated that not assenting to the bill is a big set back to the nation’s maritime industry, even as he stressed that projects like the maritime institution should be funded by the government.
“No I am not in support of the decision; one of the infrastructures that we need to foster maritime activities in Nigeria and attain respect among the committee of maritime nations is a maritime institution of first class”
“And I think that maritime university is one such tertiary institution that has first class potentials, so not assenting to that bill is a setback for the maritime industry in Nigeria. And I think as a nation there are certain projects that need fund even if it means cutting down on others to meet funding such ones, maritime university is such project”, he argued.
He however said that the project which has gulped Billions of Naira in the last four to five years is a national project which has the potential of moving the nation forward.
“Besides that project cost Billions of naira in the last four to five years when the idea was conceived, not assenting to the bill to actualize the dreams of the stakeholders will mean a very serious setback. It will also mean that we are not priotising maritime in Nigeria as a national project that will move this country forward in a special way”, he added.
He therefore beckoned on the president to have a rethink on his decision of declining the assent of the bill.
Nwagbara also said that it is too late to be talking about properly funding Maritime Academy of Nigeria, (MAN), Oron and leaving the new university, adding that the nation’s maritime industry need more maritime universities.
“Talking about properly funding MAN, Oron and leaving this, it is too late in the day to make that type of argument. I keep telling people to go to Philippines; you will find that government has close to 20 government-sponsored institutions that offer tertiary education in maritime studies, apart from over 200 that are privately established. So talking about funding of MAN, Oron to the exclusion of other maritime universities is not a good argument”, he canvassed.
Nwagbara, said that the nation does not have enough institutions to take care of the human capital need that the industry deserves.
“Because apart from MAN, Oron and Institute of Oceanography we don’t have a degree awarding maritime institution in Nigeria that will take care of the human capital need that the maritime industry in Nigeria deserve especially technical university that will offer maritime courses.
This is the gap that the maritime university that we are talking about has come to fill, that gap is yawning, Oron is not an degree awarding institution”
“We need a degree awarding institution like maritime university and we have spent so much of national resources to establish it and it is already in place. It is not recurring expenditure that will be funded that should be allowed to stifle project, the project has come a long way it should be promoted and make a reality. So it will compliment what MAN, Oron and the Institute of Oceanography is doing and bring us to higher pedestal”, he concluded.