NNPC, NOSDRA pledge collaboration to stem oil spills

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) have expressed their willingness to work closer aimed at mitigating the incidences of oil spills across the country.

Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, made this known when he received the Director General of NOSDRA, Mr. Idris Musa, along with his management team at the NNPC Towers in Abuja on Wednesday.

Kyari stated that as a National Oil Company, the NNPC pipelines, flow stations and assets spread across the country were jointly owned by the Federation.

He maintained that the Corporation produces crude oil to maintain a balance sheet for the nation, noting that the NNPC had taken several steps to deploy technology to stem incidences of oil spill.

“We have taken a number of steps to stem oil spill by deploying technology in order to make sure that whenever there is an oil spill incidence, it is contained almost immediately. We contain the incidences of oil theft, pipeline vandalism and acts of saboteurs and we intend to bring it to the barest minimum,” Kyari said.

He noted that the NNPC operated both crude oil and petroleum products pipelines adding that the Corporation was collaborating with all its partners to curb incidences of oil spill in all areas of its operations.

The NNPC helmsman said the Corporation would also forge closer ties with NOSDRA to proactively forestall oil spill in areas that are prone to incessant incidences.

Earlier, the Director General of NOSDRA, Mr. Musa, said the Agency was prepared to partner the NNPC in mitigating oil spill in all areas of its oerations stressing that the partnership would ensure a good operating environment for the operators and the inhabitants.

He added that breaking of petroleum products pipelines did not provide food, water and good environment for the people rather the malaise bleeds the national purse of revenues that would have being used to provide developmental infrastructure for the various tiers of government.

Ogoni Clean-up on track, Nigerians should support HYPREP – Bassey

Environmental Rights Activist, Nnimmo Bassey, has called on Ogonis and all Nigerians to support the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in the on-going clean-up of Ogoniland.

Bassey made the call when he led a delegation of members of Oil Watch Africa from 15 African countries to HYPREP on an assessment visit to some remediation sites in Ogoniland.

Receiving the team, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil who explained the processes adopted by HYPREP in the clean-up, informed the team that the clean-up project commenced eight years after the report was submitted to the Federal Government of Nigeria by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In a statement by HYPREP, Dekil was quoted as saying that the time between the date of submission in 2011 and 2016 when the clean-up was officially flagged off by President Buhari necessitated the review and modification of some of the strategies recommended in the report.

The Project Coordinator said the review and modification of some of the strategies does not mean that HYPREP has deviated from the recommendations in the UNEP Report as all such modifications are done with the input of UNEP.

While inspecting one of the remediation sites, Bassey expressed satisfaction with the works HYPREP is doing and confirmed that remediation has commenced in Ogoniland.

He expressed disappointment that despite the several activities going on at various sites across Ogoniland, people are still saying the clean-up has not commenced. Bassey said he appreciates the anxiety of the people who expect to see the work move at a very fast pace but pointed out that the clean-up project is a highly technical and complex work that requires expertise, experience and a lot of preparation.

Speaking to HYPREP staff, Nnimmo Bassey said members of the Oil Watch Africa are in Port Harcourt for a conference on the impact of oil on the continent, adding that it was important for the team to visit Ogoniland to see the work that HYPREP is doing and to see the state of the cleanup efforts.

The environmental rights activist said the visit was also to enable members from other African countries learn about the consequences of pollution and how difficult it is to restore the environment after pollution has occurred. Bassey said keeping the environment clean was everybody’s business as hydrocarbon pollution affects both the environment and humans and urged all stakeholders to ensure that Ogoniland remains clean after the clean-up.

He dispelled speculations that HYPREP funds are being mismanaged, explaining that the structure set up for the management of finances and for appropriating funds for HYPREP project is very well set up.

Bassey who is also a member of the HYPREP Board of Trustees (BoT) stated that people of integrity with very stringent control over finances are on the board of the Project, adding that the funds for the Project is held by the Ogoni Trust Fund with community people and other stakeholders as signatories to the account and not a kobo goes out without due process.

“HYPREP office does not determine which fund is released and which fund is being used. The strict nature of the control and the milestone set by HYPREP and the whole organizational structure, the BOT, GC, PCO, is such that any fund to be released must be matched by clear set goals and what it is going to be used for,” Bassey said.

He said ‘the clean-up is an excellent avenue to get youths employed to multiply skills that can be extended to other Niger Delta communities by the time the remediation project is expanded. This is an incubation lab. We must do all we can to ensure that this is a success that the environment is restored’. He encouraged youths to take advantage of the employment and training opportunities that the Project offers.

He emphasized that Ogoni clean-up is a signature project and that everyone involved in the delivery of this project desires to leave a legacy. Bassey called on everyone who doubts the commencement of the clean-up to visit the remediation sites across Ogoniland to see things for themselves and urged everyone to be patient with HYPREP since remediation is on course.

Samsung seek training partnership with Amnesty Programme

Samsung Heavy Industries-Mega Construction and Integration, (SHI-MCI) Nigeria, are seeking a partnership with the Presidential Amnesty Programme to train beneficiaries on fabrication and heavy industrial welding.

This was stated recently when the Training Managers of Samsung paid a visit to the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo.

They were in the office to make a presentation of Samsung Heavy Industries welding training center. At the center they train people on fabrication and heavy industrial welding. At the end of the training, grandaunts would be issued certificate of Training Completion and International Welder Certificate. This will qualify them to work with any organization as professional welders at local and international level.

Mr. Ikechukwu Ugbaja, the Human Resource Manager and Leader of the delegates stated that they want to partner with the office through their capacity building, empowerment and employment programme.

Mr. Ugbaja further stated that the training usually last for a period of 10 months, and the training is in 3 phases. The Phase 1 is on Flux Cored Arc Welding and will last for 3months; the 2nd phase which is on Shield Metal Arc Welding usually last for 4months while phase 3 which is on Gas Tungsten Arc Welding is for a period of 3 months. At each stage the trainees will have international certification which will enable them work anywhere in the world.

Responding, the Special Adviser, to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, said he was happy to receive them. He stated that their visit is timely as the Amnesty Programme is in its re-integration stage. He assured them that the office is ready to partner with Samsung Heavy Industries provided they would train, empower and employ those being trained.

Prof. Dokubo noted that he is more concerned with empowering and employment of the youths after the training. He said that by so doing we will be assured of lasting peace in the Niger Delta.

He further added that the office is going to send some staff to visit the company for on the spot assessment of their facilities.

The visitors thanked the Management of the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator Presidential Amnesty Programme. They assured them that the impact of the collaboration will go beyond Nigeria.

The graduates would be internationally certified to work anywhere in the world. First School Leaving Certificate is the basic qualification needed to get enrolled in the training.

“Show more commitment to Niger Delta, national development”

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Aminu Aliyu Bisalla has charged staff of the Ministry at the state offices to show more commitment in the discharge of their responsibilities towards the development of the Niger Delta region and Nigeria in general.

Bisalla gave this charge at an interactive session between the Management of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the staff of the state offices in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

The Permanent Secretary noted that successive administrations in the country had shown concerns on the development issues affecting the Niger Delta region over the years. He added that the Ministry was being repositioned to facilitate the realisation of the development concerns.

“We have begun to restructure the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in a bid to strengthen its offices in all the nine states of the Niger Delta so as to achieve its mandate of improving the lives of the people of the region,” the Permanent Secretary stressed.

He reiterated the need for the Ministry’s staff in the nine states to relate properly with the people at the grassroots in order to know their needs so that necessary actions could be taken to address them.

“You have to be very vibrant in discharging your duties so that the Niger Delta people will be able to feel the impacts of the huge investments of the Federal Government and other development partners in the region,” he emphasised.

In the same vein, Bisalla has called on the people of the Niger Delta region to toe the path of dialogue in resolving issues with stakeholders and government as development could not be achieved in the midst of rancour.

He revealed this at a community engagement on peace in the Niger Delta region held at Orogun town, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State on Thursday.

Bisalla disclosed that the interactive session, themed ‘Community Engagement and Dialogue for Sustainable Development, was a fallout of one of the recommendations of the 3rd National Council on Niger Delta which took place in Umuahia, Abia State in 2018 as well as other stakeholders’ fora where participants had called on Federal Government to bridge the communication gap with Niger Deltans’.

Thus, he disclosed that the meeting was necessitated by the need of government to hear directly from the people of the Niger Delta region on what they want in the spirit of developing the region.

The Permanent Secretary , who was represented by Architect Oyelade Oyeleke David, the Delta State Coordinator of the Ministry stressed that this would guide the Federal Government in initiating programmes and projects that would impact positively on the lives of the people of the community and the region at large.

Bisalla also called on people of the Niger Delta region to sustain the prevailing peace in the region for sustainable development.

In his remarks, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege urged the Federal Government to provide more employment opportunities for Niger Delta youths as they were willing to work and contribute to the development of the region.

Chief Francis Anigabou, a representative of Obugwe of Ezemu Kingdom, commended the Federal Government for organizing the interactive session,which indicated government’s interest of attending to the demands of the community and the Niger Delta region. He added that Olorogun community was in dire need of hospitals, motorable roads, schools and other basic social amenities which should be provided by the federal government.

In her remarks,Director Community Development and Education in the Ministry, Mrs Lauren Braide, said that the interactive session was the desire of the Federal Government to adopt dialogue and community based approach in developing the region as similar sessions were held last year in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Edo States.

Braide stressed the need for continuous dialogue and regular constructive engagements of critical stakeholders to ensure inclusive growth of the region.

Rivers’ Waste Treatment Plant will complement FG’s remediation efforts in Ogoniland – Osinbajo

*Says Public Private Partnership key part of Buhari administration’s economic plan

The Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Rivers State, will complement the Federal Government’s remediation efforts in OgoniLand and Niger Delta.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this on Friday at the commissioning of the Port Harcourt Dockyard Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Rivers State. VP Osinbajo was welcomed the by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; and accompanied by Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar, Chairman of African Circle Pollution Management Limited.

He said, “While this is a facility to treat waste generated on vessels, it is also a wonderful complement to the more general work on the environment which we are currently doing expressly regarding the clean-up of Ogoniland and the innovative connective solutions to ending gas flaring as developed by the NNPC.

“We would no longer be a country defined by the size of pollution challenges, but instead by the wholeness of our remediation response and, even more importantly, our preventive action.”

The Vice President further stated that encouraging Public Private Partnership and private capital investment, especially in commercially viable public infrastructure remains a major policy thrust of the Buhari administration.

Prof. Osinbajo, who stated this today at the commissioning of the Port Harcourt Dockyard Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Rivers State, said a “a successful public private partnership, private leadership in major aspects of the economy and encouraging private capital investment is more strategic and important.”

Noting that “government cannot fund all public infrastructure,” the Vice President stated that the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the Buhari administration was to encourage public-private investment and make the country more attractive to investors.

“You are all aware of our Ease of Doing Business agenda, with the goal of making Nigeria one of the easiest and most attractive places to trade and invest in the shortest possible time. We are well on our way there,” he said.

The Vice President Osinbajo commended African Circle Pollution Management Limited, the company that built the Liquid Waste Treatment Plant, for being wholly indigenous, while referring to its growth over the years.

Continuing, the VP said, “I am told that the company has invested more than $8 million in this fully automated liquid waste treatment plant. The construction of this modern waste treatment plant is in fulfillment of the provisions of the agreement the company signed with the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

“In line with that Built, Operate and Transfer agreement, the African Circle Limited agreed to build this facility in accordance also with the IMO MARPOL 73/78 convention: to provide facilities for liquid and solid waste created on both vessels for the navigation districts of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, Calabar and Onne. The agreement, I’m told, is for a period of 20 years, and with the expiration of that period the facilities would be handed over to the NPA.”

While reiterating the Federal Government’s commitment to a sustainable development agenda, the VP added, “barely two years ago, we demonstrated our commitment to supporting environmentally friendly projects by the launching of a first sovereign green bond in Africa and the fourth in the world.

“The proceeds of the bond is to finance environmentally friendly projects in afforestation, renewable energy and the formation of green energy, enabling Nigeria to reduce its CO3 emission by 40 per cent by the year 2030.”

Buhari, Osinbajo working to develop Niger Delta, Group replies PANDEF

A group known as Coalition of Niger Delta Concerned Youths says the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is working to ensure that the demands of the Niger Delta region are met.

Reacting to the claim of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) that Buhari is against the region, Isaac Eranga, coordinator of group, said the president has interest in the Niger Delta.

PANDEF had cited the suspension of DAAR Communications licence and the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), to buttress its point

But Ernaga said the claim of the forum is “laughable and nothing short of blind conjecture, especially in the face of facts”.

Eranga said with projects like the Ogoni clean-up and establishment of a maritime university in Delta state, Buhari has shown that he is committed “to develop and reposition the Niger Delta region for a better future.”

“For decades, despite being oil-rich and accounting for a huge percentage of Nigerias oil revenue, the region was given little or no attention in terms of development by successive governments in Nigeria, including under former president Dr. Goodluck Jonathanz who hails from the region,” he said.

“But the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo changed all that with the Niger Delta New Vision, aimed at developing the region.

“No doubt, the Buhari administration  is making efforts to ensuring that demands from the region are met.

“While no government is perfect, PANDEF would agree that Buhari administration is backing its political will with efforts to ensure that Niger Delta gets more than their fair share of development.”

The statement further said projects being implemented through the FG’s New Vision “shows commitment of the Buhari government to develop and reposition the Niger Delta region for a better future.”

“In 2016, Vice President Osinbajo went on a tour to the Niger Delta region, meeting with the people and engaging with stakeholders and leaders, including PANDEF, to proffer ways to address the needs of the region. This was unprecedented, and it followed a meeting President Buhari had with PANDEF on the same issue. These robust engagements championed by the President and Vice President was what led to the Niger Delta New Vision to chart a way forward for the region’s development. No doubt, the Buhari administration is making efforts to ensuring that demands from the region are met.

“They include the take-off of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, the commencement of the Ogoni Clean-up, of which 21 contractors have since moved to site for ongoing remediation works, an unprecedented work of environmental remediation and restoration never undertaken before in Niger Delta communities polluted by past decades of oil spills, and could become a veritable template for the clean-up of the entire region. Also, there is the establishment of modular refineries that will also improve the local economy in communities where they are located.

“What about the Presidential Amnesty Programme, that is still being implemented under the Buhari administration and contributing to the peace and stability in the region? What about the ongoing construction of the Second Niger Bridge that connects states in the South East and the South-South and will increase socio-economic development in the regions, but which before Buhari’s government, had been an idea merely designed on paper for about 40 years? These facts are in the public domain.

“Also, there is ongoing construction work on the 34-kilometres Bonny-Bodo road, a public-private partnership project, flagged off by Vice President Osinbajo in October 2017. This would connect several major communities in the Niger Delta region, and also boost socio-economic development in the region.

“There are other strategic development efforts being undertaken by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government in partnership with the private sector and IOCs to bring needed interventions in the region, Also, regular engagements on Niger Delta’s development through the New Vision is being driven by the Office of the Vice President, of which CSOs and stakeholders, including PANDEF, have been invited on occasions to participate,” the statement read.

Modular refinery to begin operation in 2020

The 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery being developed by Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Company Limited with equity investment from the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) would be completed in May 2020.

This date was confirmed by the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote and the Director of Finance and Personnel Management, Mr. Isaac Yalah inspected the project site on Monday at Ibigwe, Imo State, in company of the Chairman of Waltersmith, Mr. Abdulrasaq Isah and the Executive Vice-Chairman, Mr. Danjuma Sale.

The progress completion of the project stands at 65 per cent, seven percent ahead of the original schedule. The engineering and procurement components had also been completed, with construction at 60 per cent.

Giving his assessment after taking a tour of the site, Wabote described the project as investment channelled in the right direction. He hailed the contractors-Lambert Electromac and Zerock for their remarkable pace of execution, dedication and expertise, noting that they continued with the project despite the onset of the rainy season.

He also expressed delight with the high number of Nigerians working on various aspects of the project, stating that it underscores President Mohammed Buhari’s commitment to create employment for young Nigerians from the activities of the oil and gas industry. “I hope similar projects would come on stream pretty soon to generate employment for Nigerians.“

In line with the requirements of the succession plan requirements of the Nigerian Content Act, Wabote charged the contractors to train and absorb more Nigerians in senior management positions and make them permanent members of their companies, even after the project phase.

Wabote also noted that the Ibigwe modular refinery was the first of such projects to be undertaken by the NCDMB and Watersmith and hinted that the Board had sanctioned another modular refinery project to be developed at Calabar, Cross River State.

In his comments, the Chairman of Waltersmith thanked the Executive Secretary for the visit and affirmed that the company was satisfied with the quality of work from the contractors. He also noted that Waltersmith had been steadfast on its obligations to the firms. “We expect you to remain consistent with us as well. But we are very happy with what we have seen and we are looking forward to commissioning and beginning to sell diesel and kerosene from this site in May 2020.”

The Project Manager of Lambert Electromac, Mr. Mohamad Chit stated that all outstanding construction at the site were above the ground and being fast tracked. He stated that the installation stage is expected to take four weeks when it begins in October 2019.

Chit also said the modular refinery project begun on a good footing with the host community and had continued to enjoy conviviality from the local population.

The Board and Waltersmith signed the equity investment agreement in June 2018. Wabote had explained at the ceremony that the investment decision was in line with the Board’s vision ‘to be the catalyst for the industrialization of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors.’

He added that the Board was also keen to support the Federal Government’s policy on modular refineries and meet the key objectives of the Petroleum Industry’s Seven Big Wins launched by President Mohammed Buhari in October 2016 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Program (EGRP).

Why we support Buhari govt – Niger Delta ex-agitators

*NDDC to improve procurement process, fund management

A group of ex-Niger Delta agitators has pledged to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement recently by the Niger Delta Creek Force, the group congratulated the President on his successful inauguration on May 29, 2019, describing Buhari as a visionary leader with a burning desire to develop the Niger Delta in particular and Nigeria in general.

The NDCF expressed confidence that Buhari would consolidate his achievements and turn things around for the betterment of the Niger Delta during his second term in office, according to the PUNCH.

It called on other previously aggrieved groups in the region to sheathe their swords and rally round the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to usher in development which had eluded the region for so long.

Noting that the President had done well in the area of youth empowerment programmes, a development it said had impacted positively on the lives of youths in the region, thereby reducing crime and criminality in the region; the group expressed optimism that the peace and the ongoing development in the region in terms of infrastructural development and human capital development would be sustained and consolidated.

Meanwhile, the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof Nelson Brambaifa, has said the Commission will continue to follow the proper public procurement procedures to ensure that its funds are applied judiciously for development purposes.

Prof. Brambaifa stated this at the opening of a one-week workshop for the Commission’s executive management and directors at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Port Harcourt.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the Commission’s mandate included delivering services that give full value for money, noting that it was necessary for the management to be prudent in its efforts to drive development in the Niger Delta region.

Prof Brambaifa said that the workshop on the procurement processes would impact positively on the workings of the NDDC as it relates to public procurement and the management of funds for the interventionist agency.

He remarked: “Our goal is clear; we want everyone to be conversant with the procurement process because it is not something that should be left for only procurement officers. The experts have made it simple for us to understand the issues in procurement.

“I have no doubt that someday we will fully integrate the electronic data management into our procurement system. We will adopt the electronic platform to enhance the efficiency and transparency of our processes.”

The NDDC boss said that it was important that the Commission’s staff fully understand the procurement process to ensure that funds meant for development projects and programmes were used judiciously.

The NDDC Director for Procurement, Engr. Theophilus Alagoa, explained that the training was organised to enlighten officers of the Commission to know their roles in the procurement process.

He said further: “We want NDDC staff to wake up to their responsibilities by arming them with knowledge. We noticed that a lot of people don’t know their roles.  In fact, every department in NDDC has the power to procure for itself. The procurement unit is only there to ensure compliance with the Public Procurement Act.”

FG approves N100bn for completion of East West road project – Minister

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani has said that the Federal Government had approved the sum of N100bn for the completion of Sections 1 to 4 of the East West road project.

The Minister disclosed this at a meeting with the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), led by its National Chairman, High Chief (Dr.) Style Benjamin Tamaranebi, in Abuja, on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Ministry.

It will be recalled that the East-West road was originally started by the Federal Ministry of Works and was handed over to the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, when they had only completed just 10 kilometers.

At the initial stage, it was designed to start from Delta State roundabout, through Ughelli, Patani, kayama, lbehama, to Port Harcourt and end at Oron, in Akwa Ibom State.

It would also be recalled that the findings from a Presidential Inter-Ministerial team on assessment tour of Sections 1 to 4 of the East West road from Warri, Delta state to Oron, Akwa Ibom state, in the year 2018, showed that contractors would require about N100bn to complete the four sections of the flagship project in the Niger Delta region, the Minister said the submission from the committee culminated in the said approval of the fund.

The Minister assured the   people of the Niger Delta that the dualisation of the road was of utmost importance to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister stressed that on their part, and the people of the region appreciate the importance of the road in promoting their well-being.

Usani added that the China Export-Import bank had also agreed to support the construction of section 5 of the East West road from Oron to Calabar, with $500M, while the Federal Government pays counterpart funding.

The Minister disclosed that the Federal Government was at the verge of awarding the contract with a new design.

He added that the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority was to monitor the completion of Sections 1 to 4 of the East West road, saying that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs had given its nod to the directive of the Presidency that the N100bn should be paid directly to the contractors from the Federation Account.

The Minister revealed that the Federal Government has also directed that the Gas Flare Penalty Fine being requested by the host communities, be released to them.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola, decried a situation where contracts were awarded to the indigenes of the Niger Delta region, who ended up abandoning the projects after payments, he said decisive actions would be taken to address such occurrences.

“We are doing our best to see how all the communities in the Niger Delta region will benefit from government projects, activities and programmes,” he reiterated.

Prof. Daramola disclosed that all completed projects in the region by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs would be handed over to benefitting communities in due course.

In his remarks, the National Chairman of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), High Chief (Dr.) Style Benjamin Tamaranebi, said their visit was to seek the Federal Government’s collaboration through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, in a bid to address the challenges of various communities in the Niger Delta region.

VC commends Buhari administration for making Maritime University a success story

*Says progress of University shows FG’s commitment towards developing Niger Delta & maritime sector

VC, Nigeria Maritime University, Prof. Etebu

Vice Chancellor of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, Prof. (Mrs.) Maureen Ongoebi Etebu, has praised the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari for the continued development of the university and making it a success story.

Etebu said this has helped in sustaining peace in the Niger Delta region, while adding that the University has become a beacon of hope to Niger Delta youths.

She further stated that the Buhari administration’s efforts towards the development of the University also shows its commitment to improving the maritime sector, which is fundamental to the growth and development of the nation’s economy

The VC stated this on Monday while showcasing the institution’s impressive teaching facilities and infrastructure at its take-off campus to the Niger Delta New Vision team from the Office of the Vice President.

She said, “We are grateful to the Federal Government for its support, without which, the maritime University would not have taken off. They have been magnanimous to us,” while adding that the university’s development was in sync with the Federal Government’s New Vision for the Niger Delta.

“Indeed, we have been able to start only because the Federal Government energized the process and released funds to the Maritime University. Recall that the His Excellency (Vice President) even visited here (Niger Delta) and we are grateful. You can see the progress here already. And since the university started, it has contributed to the peace in the Niger Delta region,” she noted.

The VC, who was in the company of University staff members, added that the ongoing efforts in the university is an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were fully working for the development of the region.

ICT facilities at Maritime University

It would be recalled that the University was granted approval by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session.

The Maritime University, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria, commenced full academic activities in April 2018, when its first batch resumed lectures for the 2017/2018 session.

It has 13 departments in three faculties namely: Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.

The Faculty of Transport has four departments, namely: Nautical Science, Transport Logistics Management, Marine Economics and Finance, and Port Management. The Faculty of Engineering has five departments – Marine Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Petroleum and Gas Engineering, and the Faculty of Environmental Management has four departments: Environmental Management and Pollution, Meteorology and Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Marine Geology.

According to the VC, over 300 undergraduates wrote the first and second semester exams in 2018.

So far, the University has, at January 27, pre-screened 476 new students who have commenced academic activities for the 2018/2019 session. Of this number, the faculty of Engineering had the highest number of pre-screened students comprising 280 students.

Maritime University students during a parade in the institution on Monday

The VC also lauded the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for its financial contributions towards the University’s development, a pointer to the synergy that underpins good relations among ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) under the Buhari administration.

She said, “NIMASA have been a big brother to us. Whenever we go to them they are willing to accommodate us. The DG of NIMASA has indeed been very supportive.”

The Special Assistant to the Vice President on Communication Projects/Niger Delta, Mr. Arukaino Umukoro, expressed his delight at the institution’s facilities, which he attributed to the Buhari administration’s commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region and the nation’s maritime sector.

In November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved an increase in the take-off grant allocated to the University from the N2bn earlier announced to N5bn. This sum was included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly in November 2017. Similarly, an additional N1B was approved by the President to support crucial infrastructure works and staff recruitment in the University. The Delta State government also donated two 500KVA generators to the University.

These efforts have aided the take-off of the institution, which arguably boasts world-class teaching facilities which include: state of the art lecture rooms kitted with projectors and air conditioners, school laboratories, Olympic size swimming pool, library, event hall, cafeteria, hostels, a health centre that also serves neighbouring communities, amongst others.

A lecture theatre at Maritime University

Noting that all lecturers in the university went through strict recruitment process before they were employed, the VC said, “All our academic staff have a minimum of second-class upper in their first degree. And they were all employed on merit without any powerful political connection,” she said, assuring that the university, which is a paramilitary institution, was poised to maintain its high standard.

Etebu said the University has great potential to positively impact development in the region and in the country.

“The maritime industry is global, and there are so many resources that have not been tapped until now. You have heard our university anthem, “sailing through the marine ways of the world”, so it’s limitless. Being a premier Maritime University, we want to keep the flag flying, and I know we would be number one for a long time.

Also, in October, last year, the NMU signed an academic partnership with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in the presence of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. Under this MOU, the CMU offered scholarships to two students of the Maritime University.

“One of the many advantages of this institution is that we do not go on strike, being a paramilitary institution. A four-year course will always remain a four-year course,” the VC added.

Similarly, the Dean, Faculty of Marine Transport & Logistics Management, Prof. Godwin Ovuworie, said, “Maritime University is a unique institution that would cater for the needs of Nigeria’s maritime industry for years to come. We thank the Vice President and the President for this project because Nigeria needs it.”

Staff of the University also commended the Federal Government for its continued efforts in developing the university.