Tension in the Niger Delta as Buhari reportedly declines to give final assent to Maritime varsity bill

A coalition of militant leaders from the states of the Niger Delta under the aegis of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) has rejected the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the bill establishing the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta state into law, asking the presidency and the Senate to harmonize and ensure the bill is passed into law.

The group warned that the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the bill into law is already provoking dangerous movements of group and former agitators that could trigger renewed tension and violent protest in the region.

President Muhammadu Buhari had, last week, forwarded a letter to the Senate announcing his decision to decline assent to a bill seeking the establishment of Nigeria Maritime University in Okerenkoko Delta State, citing issue of the excessive source of funding for the institution.

The RNDA, after a crucial meeting with its various commanders at Bini River chaired by its leader, Major General Johnmark Ezon-ebi, rejected in its entirety the refusal of the President to sign and called on the members of the National Assembly to review whatever clause that has prompted the refusal of the President to sign the bill into law, for the interest of peace and fairness.

According to the group, though some higher institutions of learning had operated for years before it was legalised through the signing of the enabling bills into law, the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Bill establishing the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko into law would not lead to the closure of the University.

“The RNDA noted that the reason for the President’s refusal to sign the bill has not be adduced but stressed that according to findings it is due to some ambiguous sections in the bill which the Presidency is not comfortable with”.

“The coalition of Militant leaders under the aegis of the RNDA, which accepted the federal government ceasefire agreement on August 21 ,2016, wants to remind President Muhammad Buhari that it was this same the non-take off of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko,Delta State was one of the major reasons that led to the formation of Niger Delta Avengers after the fall out of the 2015 presidential general election which the former President Goodluck Jonathan lost to Buhari and snowballed into bombing of oil facilities and destruction of oil pipelines in the Creeks of Niger Delta.”

“The RNDA, with the coalition of the nine militant groups in the creek and in line with the ceasefire, has been supporting President Muhammadu Buhari led APC federal government that also endorsed him for a second term on the saddle at Aso rock after its fall out with brother militant group Niger Delta Avengers having personalized the agitation to one man and his family affairs with just Gbaramatu Kingdom affairs alone wish derailed from addressing the under developmental challenges confronting all various ethnic tribes in the region is suffering”

“The RNDA noted that the refusal of Mr. President to sign the bill is already causing tension in the region and if not properly managed by the presidency for Mr. President to have a rethink to revisit the signing of the bill it will amount to another round of violent activities in the creek”.

“The RNDA also noted that whatever clause that made him not to sign can be amended as every law is still subject to amendment and Mr. President should not use whatever clauses observed in the bill to deny the people of the Niger Delta region”.

The group called on the National Assembly to consider the quick amendment and signing of the Bill as expeditious and should be treated the way the North East Development Commission bill was passed and President Buhari signed it into law without observing any clause.

The bill has just been passed into law and billions of naira has already been approved for the commission to be funded by the proceeds of our crude oil monies from the creek of Niger Delta.”

“Mr. President should not treat the issue of Maritime university Okrenkoko with disdain and hatred .And that Mr. President should have a rethink for the overall interest of Niger Delta people because the development of the Niger Delta region is our number one priority

“At this junction the RNDA called on the leadership of the South-South Traditional Rulers Forum under the leadership of HRM King Edmund Daukoru and the Amayanabo of Twon Brass HRM King Diete Spiff as well as the leadership of HOSTCOM Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Nigeria and well meaning leaders of the Niger Delta region, the likes of High Chief Dr Captain Hosa Okunbor, the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, High Chief Francis Inegbiniki and other stakeholders in the region to urgently meet with President Buhari in other to enable him have a rethink and give it a second thought to resolve any ambiguities contained in the bill and sign it into law.”

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