Two bills establishing the Maritime University at Okerenkoko in Warri South local government area of Delta State and another in Oron in Akwa Ibom state scaled Second Reading at the Senate today.
However, fears over funding threaten to mar the passage of the bills, given that proposals for the two were being canvassed simultaneously by Senators from the affected states.
In his lead debate, Senator James Manager explained that the proposed Maritime University, Okerenkoko will be the first specialised institution in West Africa.
He added that the university was coming at the time Nigeria was developing local contents to feed the oil and gas industry.
“Distinguished Senators, in view of educational backwardness in the region and if we take into consideration, indigenous cultures of the region, there is need for us to consider this bill,” he explained.
The bill was supported by Senators Foster Ogala (Bayelsa West) and Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East), but the conflict of interest with that of Oron came to fore as Senator Nelson Effiong (Akwa Ibom South), in his lead debate, insisted that the College of Maritime Studies, Oron in Akwa Ibom state should be upgraded to a degree-awarding institution.
In his support, Senate minority leader, Godswill Akpabio disclosed that Oron has so far trained over 4,400 specialists who have been deployed into the industry.
Akpabio added that there is adequate infrastructure at Oron that would enable government spend less, while asking the Senate to consider the bill.
In his contribution, Senator Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central) allayed fears that government may not have resources to fund both universities at the same time.
Having read the two bills for the second time, Senate President, Bukola Saraki referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions, which is expected to revert with a report to the Chamber in four weeks.