The minister was reportedly directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to embark on the trip. This is coming barely four days after both Kachikwu and transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi openly disagreed over the propriety or otherwise of the institution and a few hours after another pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC) was reportedly breached in Akwa Ibom State.
”We can’t take further chances anymore. Mr President directed the minister to embark on the trip to have an on the spot assessment of things”, a source told our correspondent.
Although those on the minister’s delegation were sketchy as at press time, a prominent Gbaramatu leader, Chief Daniel Ekpebide led the minister to the university’s temporary site at Kurutie as well as the ongoing permanent site at Okerenkoko.
The transportation minister had said, “I am not against the university. I hope you people appreciate that. My argument about Okerenkoko is that the land alone is N13 billion. If you give me N13 billion I will buy half of Lagos. That N13 billion has built the university already so there is no need to spend more money.
“Let EFCC retrieve the money from them and then release them and we would build the university. I believe the Federal government has no money to continue. When we have money we would continue.
“The Minister of State for Petroleum has whispered to me that he would look for the money to continue. Minister, bring it to me and I will continue” he said
However, responding to Amaechi, Kachikwu not only opposed the transport minister’s position but was empathic that the university, which has been embroiled in controversy, will be developed.
According to him, much has gone into the property, therefore, he would ensure that the university would be developed, as it doesn’t make sense to “throw the baby with the bath water.
“First let me say on Maritime University, I disagree with the Minister of Transport.
“Any facility that is placed in the south south, we should work towards developing it. I don’t care the circumstances under which we are placed…
“It is not my position to determine whether land was valued at N19 billion or N10 billion or N3 billion. The appropriate institutions which are the court systems will determine that.
“That has nothing to do with the development of the infrastructure. As far as I know, so much has gone into that property. So much fiscal assets are being developed. We are not going to throw the baby with the bath water. We will deal with the issues but the university will be developed.
“If he doesn’t want it in maritime, I will take it to petroleum,” he said.
According to the source, the minister had a conversation with the president on the raging issue of the university and he was directed to visit the site for an on the spot assessment.
The presidential directive was obtained after the junior minister confered with relevant security chiefs, including the National Security Adviser, according to him.
”We should de-emphasise the disagreement of the ministers and focus more on the need to forge ahead in spite of all we are going through. If the petroleum minister proposed to the president to visit the site and see to the possibility of a national petroleum academy, what is wrong in that?
”It is still at the level of proposal but something urgent needs to be done and it will be done sooner than later because such move to establish an institution like that requires the National Assembly and we are sure Mr President will present an executive bill to that effect”, he said.