Ijaws protest scrapping of maritime varsity

Indigenes of Okerenkoko Community in Delta State yesterday besieged Government House, Asaba, protesting the Federal Government’s move to cancel the Nigeria Maritime University sited in Gbaramantu Kingdom, Warri South Local Government Area of the state by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The protesters, numbering over 1,000, who blocked the entrance to Government House, berated the Federal Government over the alleged plan to cancel the university, noting that the reasons advanced by the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, were baseless and politically motivated.

The protesters, who were mostly youths, carried placards with inscriptions such as “Stop playing politics with our education,” “Mr. President if oil workers can go to this place and exploit oil, why can’t the same place play host to a university that will develop the people and the environment,” among others.

They urged the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to allow the university remain.

Chairman of Okerenkoko Federated Community, James Tamgbowei, said that Governor Okowa was in the best position to talk to the President and Minister for Transport to reverse the decision, adding, “We are against the cancellation because the university will benefit the entire nation, particularly Niger Delta people and Deltans.

“The school belongs to the whole world and not even Nigeria alone and that is the plain truth, which is why are protesting. We have written series of letters but we feel that we should take more steps like this so that the President and the governor will know that we need the university because it will bring development and create both employment and other opportunities for our people.”

Speaking in the same vein, one of the protesters, Welfare Timinimi, said that siting of the university in Okorenkoko was the best thing government had done for them, decrying that “its cancellation will be tantamount to wickedness. Amaechi is from the Niger Delta. We are surprised at what he is doing. We are not happy with him.”

Timinimi said Gbaramatu Kingdom contributes greatly to the economy of the nation and wondered why the only federal institution in the area was being moved out for no just reason.

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