By Cletus Opukeme, Daily Editor
National President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide, Barr. Eric Omare has called on the National Assembly to veto President Buhari and pass the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State Establishment Bill 2018 into law.
IYC in a press statement on Sunday said, ‘‘President Buhari in a recent letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives refused presidential assent to the Maritime University Establishment bill because of the diverse funding mechanisms provided for in the law by the National Assembly.’’
The IYC stated that the diverse funding mechanisms provided for in the law are justified in the peculiar circumstances of the Maritime University.
IYC reminds President Buhari that the institution is part of the special response to the historical deprivation of the Niger Delta region which was conceived by the Obasanjo administration, nurtured under the Yar’Adua/Jonathan era and came to reality in the Jonathan administration with the laying of the foundation in 2014 with academic activities kicking-off under the Buhari administration in the year 2017.
‘‘ It is also important to recall that the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi whose Ministry ought to fund the institution clearly stated at Uyo in 2016 that the Transportation Ministry would not fund the institution.
‘‘This gave rise to the offer by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to provide funding for the institution through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources considering the fact that the area the institution is located produces the petroleum resources of Nigeria. Furthermore, under the NIMASA Act, five percent of their annual budget is dedicate to research and training; hence, it is only logical for NIMASA to statutorily contribute to the funding of the only maritime University. It is these funding arrangements that was captured in the bill by the National Assembly which President Buhari is objecting to.
‘‘ Therefore, considering the historical trajectory of the Maritime University which we have provided above, the funding mechanisms provided for by the National Assembly are justified and should be sustained in the interest of the survival of the institution. The institution is sited in the difficult Niger Delta terrain and needs a lot of money to survive. President Buhari has no justification to refuse assent to the bill. The IYC believe that Mr. President is being misled by the cabal in Aso Rock who do not want the institution to succeed.
As a result ‘‘IYC call on the National Assembly under the leadership of Senate President Saraki and Speaker Dogara to veto the presidential assent and pass the bill into law. Nigerians would recalled that President Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Maritime University bill is not the first antagonism of a Nigerian President to developmental efforts into the Niger Delta region through legislative intervention.
”In the year 2000, when the NDDC Act was passed by the National Assembly, then President Obasanjo refused assent for similar reasons and the National Assembly under the leadership of the charismatic Late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo vetoed the presidential assent and passed the NDDC Act into law. This is history repeating itself and IYC call on the present National Assembly especially Senators and House members from the Niger Delta region to rise up to the occasion and be counted in defence of the interest of the long oppressed people of the Niger Delta region. ’’ he said