National News

Buhari commits to new vision on Niger Delta, as Maritime Varsity kicks off with 196 students

…as Federal Govt increases grant to N6bn, Delta donates two 500KVA generators to varsity

…2 modular refineries arrive, ready for installation in Delta, Rivers states

…Federal govt. insists that communities must benefit directly from oil refineries

….NDDC claims completion of 372 projects in 2017, sets up Job Placement Centres to engage 200,000 youths in Niger Delta

The Federal Government has restated its commitment to develop the Niger Delta in line with its New Vision for the region, with the commencement of lectures by the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, next month.

The specialized tertiary institution is set to commence the admission of students into the university for the 2017/2018 academic year and start lectures in April.

According to a statement issued by Laolu Akande, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media & Publicity, this was one of the highlights of the meeting of the Niger Delta Inter-Ministerial Committee on Friday, which was chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to assess progress on the implementation of the Buhari administration’s New Vision for Niger Delta and to also receive various reports of ongoing development projects being implemented by several Federal Government agencies in the region.

According to reports, a total of 196 students have been accepted into the University to commence their academic programmes, while 76 applications still pending. Lectures are expected to fully commence later in April, while this directive is expected to lay to rest the conflicts surrounding the location of the maritime varsity.

The Vice President’s aide also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved an increase in the take-off grant allocated to the University from the N2bn earlier approved to N5bn and that the sum was included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly in November 2017, with an additional one billion naira, also approved by the President to support essential infrastructure works and staff recruitment in the University in November 2017.

The Delta State Government, was also reported to have donated two 500KVA generators to the University.

The Maritime University was recently granted approval in January by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session.

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had listed the University in its Central Admissions Processing System in January 24, 2018, while interviews for academic staff positions were conducted between 1st and 2nd of March, 2018.

The NUC had approved that academic activities commence in three faculties namely; Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management, with a combined total of 13 departments with various specializations – from Marine Engineering, Marine Economics to Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture.

It would be recalled that, following the commencement of operations in 2017, the university had, in November 2017, invited job applications for academic staff with advert placement in major national dailies.

The meeting was also briefed on the progress of the modular refineries. One set of modular refinery package shipment has since arrived Nigeria, and after undergoing clearance at customs, would be installed in Delta State; while another set, which is expected to arrive the country in April this year, would be installed in Rivers State.

The operation of the modular refineries would include the involvement of communities where they are located. Prof. Osinbajo said this would ensure that communities benefit directly from the refineries which would help create jobs and engage youths in the region.

It would be recalled that in December last year, the Inter-Ministerial Committee received a report that 38 licensed privately financed greenfield and mini-modular refineries investors have so far indicated interests in the establishment of refineries in the region, with at least ten (10) of the licensed refineries investors at an advanced stage of development.

In the same vein, the NDDC reported at the meeting its progress in the implementation of its projects in the region. In 2017, a total of 372 projects covering roads, bridges, electricity, water, amongst others, were completed by the commission.

The development projects include the 25.7 km Nembe-Ogbia road, which would be commissioned soon; the construction of Otuoke Internal roads in Ogbia LGA, Bayelsa State; Kira Dere Mogho road and Bridge in Gokana LGA, Rivers State.

It also includes the construction of Iselu-Okaigben-Idung-Boko-Onicha Ugbo road, in Edo State; the Orie Ukwu Amaoji market road, Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Abia State and the Ashikem-Ufono-Betwaswan road in Obudu, Cross River State.

The Commission is also working with all related parties, including AMCON, to ensure the establishment of Amakpe modular refinery to be installed in Eket, Akwa Ibom State. The refinery has a capacity of producing 6,000 barrels per day.

The NDDC has also established Job Placement Centres which is expected to engage about 208,000 youths in the Niger Delta. To help reduce unemployment and youth restiveness in the region, the NDDC centre would match existing vacancies with available skills within the region.

On the progress of Ogoni clean-up, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) under the Ministry of Environment, is set to commence the procurement process for contracting experts for the remediation and clean-up of impacted sites. This process is open to competent national and international companies involved in environment, water and livelihood projects.

In the same vein, the final draft of the Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP), which provides a framework for the development of the Niger Delta, was also submitted to the committee.

In attendance at the meeting were the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani; Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jubril; the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere; the Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside; and the Special Adviser to the President on the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig-General Paul Boroh (rtd).

Others at the meeting include the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Adamu A. Rasheed; the Vice Chancellor of the Maritime University, Prof. Mrs. Ongoebi Etebu; and representatives of other relevant MDAs.

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