By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Youths from Ijaw extraction, yesterday, vowed to resist an alleged plot by the Federal Government to convert the Maritime University, Okerenkoko to a diploma-awarding institute under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The youths said it uncovered the plan in the Niger Delta and Security column of the ‘7bigwins’ initiative proposed by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, and launched recently by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The youths under the aegis of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide lamented that the proposal was aimed at making mockery of and playing with the intelligence of the region by reducing the academic status of the university.
The Spokesman of IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, in a statement described as unfortunate unacceptable and unjustifiable, the move to downgrade an existing university initially placed under the Ministry of Transportation.
Omare accused the Federal Government of attempting to please the desires of the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, to the detriment of the Niger Delta people.
He said: “There is no single justification to downgrade the Maritime University, Okerenkoko which is an existing university by the National University Commission (NUC) records under the Ministry of Transportation to an institute under the Ministry of Petroleum.
“It is unprecedented for an existing university with degree awarding status to be downgraded to an institute.
“The IYC view the decision as a move to please the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi who has been opposed to the continuation of the maritime university to the detriment of the Niger Delta people who desire it as part of their developmental objectives.
“It is very sad that the federal government under President Buhari regard the personal desire of an individual over and above the wish of the entire Niger Delta people”.
He said the development was a confirmation of fears of the people that Buhari was not sincerely committed to resolving the Niger Delta crisis despite all the efforts by stakeholders in the region to support his government.
He said it was unfortunate that the unpopular decision to reverse the academic status of the university was concluded without consulting stakeholders.
Omare said: “This move also demonstrates that the Buhari’s government is not sincerely committed to resolving the Niger Delta crisis despite efforts by stakeholders of the region to support the government as this unpopular and anti-Niger Delta decision was reached without consultation with the people of the region.
“The insincerity on the part of the federal government is capable of escalating the already volatile situation in the Niger Delta despite the efforts of leaders and stakeholders of the region.
“The insincerity of the federal government is further buttressed by the much publicized Ten Billion (10) dollars intervention fund for the Niger Delta.
“The way and manner government publicized this intervention fund would seem as if the fund would be released instantly to start the development process whereas it is a ten years initiative with no guaranteed source of funding.
“All the identified sources of funding are vague and unpredictable without stakeholders input. Therefore, the IYC regards this effort more as a propaganda strategy by the federal government rather than a genuine effort towards the development of the Niger Delta region”.