The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Thursday made an unscheduled visit to the site of the controversial Maritime University at Okerenkoko, Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Kachikwu was said to have been directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to embark on the trip to Kurutie, the site of the institution, which came barely four days after both Kachikwu and Minister of Transportation, RotimiAmaechi, openly disagreed over the propriety or otherwise of the institution, even as news that the federal government is considering a Bill to convert the school to the Nigerian National Petroleum Academy has remained rife in recent times.
A prominent Gbaramatu leader, Chief Daniel Ekpebide, led the team to the temporary site of the university in Kurutie as well as the ongoing permanent site at Okerenkoko.
Both Kachikwu and Amaechi had disagreed at a Town Hall Meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital on last Monday over the sustainability of the university project.
The Transportation minister had opined that “I am not against the university. I hope you people appreciate that. My argument about Okerenkoko is that the land alone is N13 billion. If you give me N13 billion I will buy half of Lagos. That N13 billion has built the university already so there is no need to spend more money.” Adding that “Let Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) retrieve the money from them and then release them and we would build the university.”
Speaking further, Amaechi said “I believe the federal government has no money to continue. When we have money we would continue.The Minister of State for Petroleum has whispered to me that he would look for the money to continue. Minister, bring it to me and I will continue,” he said.
However, responding to Amaechi, Kachikwu did not only oppose Amaechi’s position but was emphatic that the university, which has been embroiled in controversy, would be developed.
According to him, much has gone into the property. Therefore, he will ensure that the university will be developed, as it doesn’t make sense to “throw away the baby with the bath water”.
“First let me say on Maritime University, I disagree with the Minister of Transportation. Any facility that is placed in the South-south, we should work towards developing it. I don’t care the circumstances under which we are placed. Said Kachikwu, pointing out that “it is not my position to determine whether land was valued at N19 billion or N10 billion or N3 billion. The appropriate institutions which are the court systems will determine that.”
He stressed further: “that has nothing to do with the development of the infrastructure. As far as I know, so much has gone into that property. So much fiscal assets are being developed. We are not going to throw away the baby with the bath water. We will deal with the issues but the university will be developed.“If he doesn’t want it in maritime, I will take it to petroleum.”