[INTERVIEW] Maritime university will benefit Niger Delta youths, create jobs, attract investment to region, says VC


*University will boost the marine industry, Nigeria‘s education system”

In line with the Federal Government’s new vision for the Niger Delta, significant strides have been made to ensure smooth take-off of Nigeria’s first maritime university, explains the Vice Chancellor of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, Prof. Ongoebi Etebu, in this interview with NDNewVision

How soon should we expect the Nigeria Maritime University to take off and what are the programmes you’re starting with?

On the fourth of January this year, the National Universities Commission afforded us an opportunity to commence graduate degree programmes. They approved three faculties; namely Faculty of Marine Transport with four departments including Nautical Science and other departments like Transport, Logistics; the third one, Marine Economics and Finance, and lastly, Port Management. Then, Faculty of Engineering; where we have Marine Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Petroleum and Gas. Finally, we have the Faculty of Environmental Management; we have Environmental Management and Pollution Control, Meteorology and Climate Change, Fisheries and Marine Geology.

We are going to admit JAMB candidates with the quota the examination body gave to us. Recently, we have made efforts to get all necessary approval from the NUC and JAMB and so far, every step has been successful. The NUC and JAMB have been gracious and cooperative to ensure a smooth take-off of the Nigeria Maritime University. So, it is with eagerness that we look forward to admit candidates for the 2017/2018 academic session. No doubt, that is good news to every well-meaning Nigerian. So much is going on right now, including on-the-spot assessment of available facilities of the university to ensure a successful commencement of academic activities. We have a temporary site and efforts are at top gear to ensure the permanent site is ready as soon as possible. As soon as possible, once we get the clearance from JAMB, we’re going to advertise our programmes and admit qualified candidates. In terms of approval, the NUC also gave us approval to do basic studies –that is, to establish School of Basic Studies. We also got approval to have a unit of General Studies – just to cater for courses like English and other languages. You know the emphasis now is that all specialised universities should have specialised programmes.

What about the recruitment of academic and non-academic staff?

Let me also state that we have completed the process of submission of application for academic positions. We are collating the applications at the moment. We are working day and night to make sure that the applications are collated and sorted out for consideration. The number of applications that we received is 6,155.

How do you think the Nigeria Maritime University will benefit the host community and the nation?

No doubt, you’ll agree with me that there are many benefits that come with the establishment of a university like this – one of a kind in the country. The benefits are innumerable. The impact of the institution will be felt both at home and abroad. You know that the maritime venture is global and we intend to ensure that Nigeria attracts the best of local and foreign attention in terms of investments in various aspects of the maritime sector. The Federal Government is committed to the development and sustenance of peace in the country, particularly to make sure that youths in the Niger Delta region are meaningfully engaged. The university is not just for the region. The Maritime University is an international community that should not be tied with only the Niger Delta – doing so will make it a local university. But it is not.

The university as an international community will benefit the entire country and the marine industry at large, and then, particularly the Niger Delta. We intend to draw students from all over the country. The admission will be first of all based on merit, then catchment area, and then educationally disadvantaged states. The university is going to improve life of the entire country, namely the marine industry.

What are your short-term goals for the university?

One of the goals is to connect the institution with the world. It is important to let the world know that this kind of university exists in Nigeria; and also, to promote the good works of this administration in ensuring that the Maritime University kicks off. I am also committed to ensuring that institution’s facilities are such that can provide conducive environment for learning and teaching. We will also ensure that our recruitment is such that academic excellence will be at the fore. We will look out for academic and non-academic staff with passion for values and development as epitomised by this institution.

Ongoing Project At Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko

How safe is the location the university is sited?

There is no cause for alarm. There are existing tertiary institutions operating in the Niger Delta region. They operate without any hitch. The students, academic and non-academic staff go about their daily activities peacefully. The Maritime University will not be an exception. It will be a delightful place of learning. Parents, guardians and prospective students have nothing to worry about. You should visit the university; it is a serene environment, ideal for learning. There is no security threat – either to students or workers – as to where the school is sited. It is a beautiful, naturally serene environment. It may interest you to note that in our advert for academic positions, we specifically stated that place of submission of application should be at the campus at Krushe. Did you believe that all over Nigeria went there to submit their applications?

I will like to appreciate the administration of our amiable President, Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who has been driving this process. We are so grateful to the administration. Many thanks also to members of the inter-ministerial committee that the government set up to see to it that this university should see the light of the day. We also appreciate the efforts of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the minister who visited the temporary site on fact-finding mission through which the present administration got to know that there are huge facilities on the ground, and the NUC. More so, I want to assure Nigerians that we will do our very best to lay a solid foundation for the university’s take-off.  

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