The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has made a case for the establishment of more maritime universities across Nigeria.
He made this submission in Abuja when he hosted prominent citizens of Oro Nation from Akwa Ibom State, led by the paramount ruler of Udung Uko Local Government Area and Ahta of Oro, His Royal Majesty, Odidem Bassey Etim Edet, Eti Oyo Okpo II.
Senator Omo-Agege expressed his support for the bill to make the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State a degree awarding institution.
The bill, sponsored by the lawmaker representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Akon Etim Eyakenyi, is currently before the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative work.
Omo-Agege noted that since Nigeria has one of the longest coastlines in Africa, it is not out of place to have several maritime universities in the area.
His words: “Some are asking why we are making the case as to why there should be a second maritime university in Oron since we already have one in Delta State. I don’t need to be convinced about that.
“Frankly, when this matter came up in the 8th Senate, that argument came up. At that time, those who were sponsoring the bills thought they were in a race, scared that once one is approved, the other will not be approved.
“But some of us were not convinced by that. The argument we put forward was that we could have as many maritime universities as possible. Even five cannot be enough, taking into account the coastline we have in this country. So I don’t think that is an argument that will hold water anywhere that will block the approval of this institution. I can assure you that we are going to work to make sure that this bill is passed.
“But let me also say that it is not just enough to have the bill passed by the National Assembly. It has to be signed into law by Mr President. I think that is where the real action is. This is just the beginning of the fight. But I can also assure you that we will also take up that challenge to convince the Minister and the President as to why the bill should be signed. So you can count on my support at all times”.
The Delta Central lawmaker promised to reach out to his counterparts in the House of Representatives to ensure that the bill is given the requisite concurrence after approval by the Upper Legislative Chamber.
Earlier, leader of the delegation and Ahta of Oro, HRM Bassey Etim Edet solicited the support of the Deputy President of the Senate for the bill establishing the University of Maritime Studies currently before the 9th Senate.
According to the royal father, being an oil-bearing area, Oro deserves a university.
“The issue of Maritime University has been a thorn in the flesh of the Oro people. We have not hosted any federal institution in Oro Nation. The upgrading of Maritime Academy to a world class Maritime University is a thing that will gladden the hearts of Oro people if actualised. And we cannot do this without your support. We are speaking to the leadership of the Senate to help actualise this dream.
“Oron was one of the cradles of education in Nigeria. The Methodist Boys High School was the seventh secondary school established in Nigeria. And we found it difficult to understand why institutions that were started at the same time in other parts of the country rose from those status to higher statuses,” he said.
The same sentiment was shared by the President General, Oron Union, Bishop Etim Ante as well as Senator Eyakenyi who accompanied the delegation and spoke at the visit.