Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) on Tuesday reacted angrily to the claim by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, that N19 billion was used to acquire the site of Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Warri South West Local Government area of Delta State.
The group berated the minister for turning the truth upside down in the establishment of the institution which it said would bring development to the Niger Delta region.
The IYC, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Eric Omare, was reacting to a comment allegedly made by the Amaechi at a town hall meeting organised by the federal government at Uyo on Monday that N19 billion was used to acquire empty land for the establishment of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko and that he was not part of negotiation with militants in the Niger Delta region.
The group however commended the pro-Niger Delta position taken by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, at the said meeting to the effect that he was not opposed to the establishment of the institution.
“We strongly condemn Rotimi Amaechi’s anti-Niger Delta position and commend the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, for standing with the people of the Niger Delta region and endorsing the development of the region. Mr. Kchikwu clearly demonstrated to the world that he is a worthy son,” it added.
The Ijaw youths insisted that N19 billion was not used to acquire an empty land for the establishment of he university, noting that the minister’s claim was completely wrong and deliberately made to justify his unpopular and anti-Niger Delta opposition to the establishment of the institution.
“For t records purposes, the group said the permanent site of the university and the land for the site were acquired from the Okerenkoko Community at an amount less than N2 billion.
“After work commenced at the permanent site, the Federal Ministry of Transportation approached Chief Government Ekpemupolo who owned a diving school at Kurutie, another community in Gbaramatu Kingdom to acquire his private diving school to be used as temporary site for the Maritime University.
“It is important to note that this diving school at Kurutue was an existing school with state of the art facilities and structures completely built,” it added.
In response to the request of the Ministry of Transportation, the group maintained, Chief Ekpemupolo did his own valuation and arrived at about N15 billion, while the Ministry of Transportation did its own valuation and arrived at N13 billion and the completed diving school was then sold to the Federal Ministry of Transportation at the valuation done by the ministry.
“Therefore, it is deliberate mischief for Amaechi who is now the Minister of Transportation and has access to all relevant documents to claim that land for the Maritime University, Okerenkoko was acquired for N19 billion to justify his unreasonable and unpopular opposition to the establishment of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko.
“The land for the university was acquired for less than N2 billion contrary to Amaechi’s claim. It was the temporary site, which is a completely built up land with structures and world class facilities that was acquired for about N13 billion, which again is far less than Ameachi’s N19 billion claim,” it explained.