The federal government has said it would establish a maritime training institute at Obu-Ama in Degema Local Government of Rivers State to train ex-agitators in the governmentâ€™s amnesty programme.
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, told journalists last weekend when he visited the community to brief them on the project that the institute was in honour of leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force and former President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Alhaji Asari Dokubo.
He said the project, which would cost about N2 billion would train 500 persons at a time and would be completed within one year.
Kuku said: â€œToday I am here as an Ijaw son representing the president in his transformation drive of developing the people and various lands in this country. We have come to meet the Obu-Ama community, his highness, Harry and his entire chiefs, community leaders, youths and women in our desire to site a maritime training institute at Obu-Ama.
â€œIt is sited here in honour of one of the greatest minds of our struggle, Asari Dokubo. He has contributed his quota; he has struggled on behalf of the Niger Delta people. He has drawn the attention of government severally to the underdevelopment and poverty issues in the Niger Delta. Today, government has responded in its little way through the instrumentality of the presidential amnesty office in siting a maritime institute that will at a time take 500 delegates.
â€œThere will be hostel facilities, and there is going to be staff quarters. This is going to be a project that will bring business, employment and empowerment to this community and environ.â€
He said the presidency had defended the project before the National Assembly, adding that the Obu-Ama (also known as Harryâ€™s Town) was chosen as a means of spreading development to coastal communities.
â€œObu-Ama has been taken as a site because we really need to bring development to the coastal communities; the communities that need development. If you take Rivers state, Port Harcourt has a lot of projects that have been put there that are contributing to the development of Port Harcourt. So we need to spread to Bonny, Degema, Andoni and a few other communities. We need to go to these native communities that are demanding development and one of such is this old community that was founded in 1882 by the late Tom Harry,â€™ he said.
Speaking further on the project, Kuku said, â€œThis project is going to cost no less than N2billion. Because of the rain and the period the budget was passed, it is going to be a project that will be completed within a year.
â€œWhen I talk about delegates, I am talking about the ex-agitators in our programme. It is meant to train them. The institute will be here to train all Nigerians and the delegates.
â€œWe will no longer send people to South Africa and Barbados because it will be dealing with underwater diving and welding.
â€œThe project we are going to site here is called Maritime Training Institute. This project when completed is going to accommodate 500 students at a time.Â We are also going to have hostels that will accommodate 500 people and there will be staff quarters for those who are going to be lecturers there. Some of them are going to be your sons and daughters. We are going to train them to come and train the people in that school. We are going to send five of your sons outside this country to be trained as trainers in maritime studies. I foresee a situation where this institute will become a university or tertiary institution in time to come.â€
In his response, Asari Dokubo said, â€œThis honour is not done to me; it is for the community and every one of us. This institution will metamorphose into a university. Obu-Ama is going to be a university town very soon.â€
He noted that the community had already benefitted from the amnesty programme as two persons had been trained as pilots under the scheme and expressed satisfaction that instructors at the institute would be trained in the best maritime institutes in the world.