Maritime varsity tears Ijaws, Itsekiri apart

5th-Maritime varsity

The choice of a name and location of a proposed Maritime University in Delta State has reignited the age-long feud between the Ijaw people of Gbaramatu kingdom and their Itsekiri neighbours of Omadino community.

The development came to the fore at a one-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TetFund on a Bill to establish the Maritime University, which was held at the National Assembly.

The Senate committee had invited stakeholders including leaders of both communities to defend their presentations at the public hearing.

When the chairman of the committee, Senator Barau Jibrin, asked the representatives of both parties to make their submissions, they stated different views on the proposed specialised university.

The Bill for an Act to establish the university as initially considered by the Senate, stated that Okerenkoko, which is an ijaw word, will be the location of the institution, while the Itsekiri representatives instead canvassed for a change to Okerenghigho, which is their native language.

Leader of the Ijaw delegation, Chief Fedude Zimughan, alleged that their Itsekiri neighbours, in a desperate bid to lay claim to the land, had obtained a ‘black market’ court judgment, which he stressed, had been set aside by another court which would soon hear the substantive suit.

But Edward Ekpoko, who spoke on behalf of the Itsekiri leaders, maintained that the current name as contained in the proposed law setting up the university must be changed “in line with a court judgment which was given in our favour.”

Earlier, the Registrar of the university, Nathaniel Anho, who represented the Vice Chancellor, urged the Senate not to rename or relocate the institution, saying that its current location was suitable.

He added that the school has the necessary equipment in place for its takeoff.

For its part, the National Universities Commission (NUC) also said the regulatory agency was behind the establishment of specialised tertiary institutions, so long it will be the regulator.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee has promised to look into the issues raised by all stakeholders with a view at finding an amicable way of resolving the impasse.

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