The Senate has passed for second reading, two bills seeking to establish a Federal University of Agriculture and Technology in Aboh (Delta State, and Araromi Obu (Ondo State), respectively.
The bills are sponsored by Senators Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North); and Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP, Ondo South).
Nwaoboshi in his lead debate said that Aboh, which is a part of the Ndokwa ethnic action in Delta State, holds huge deposits of crude oil and gas resources.
According to the lawmaker, Ndokwa is a major contributor to the national economy, in addition to generating 480 Megawatts from the Okpai Independent Gas Power Plant.
He lamented that despite the immense contribution of Ndokwa federal constituency to the Nigerian economy, it continues to suffered neglect.
“Mr. President, each day that this institution is not in existence is a disservice to this country and, I must say, a continuation of a historical pattern of systemic abandonment of the peace-loving people of Ndokwa who give their best for the good of all.
“They want this institution. They deserve it. Let us give it to them. It will promote national development and harmony”, Nwaoboshi said.
He added that the establishment of the Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, Aboh, was in response to the Federal Government’s policy to establish a university with specialisations in agriculture in every geo-political zone.
“The South-South geo-political zone does not have one yet. Therefore, the proposed Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, Aboh is for the South-South region in line with this equitable policy”, the lawmaker said.
Nwaoboshi emphasised that the institution when established, would be a centre of excellence with specialised research and study interests in the immense natural endowments in Ndokwa and beyond.
He assured that the Ndokwa people in Aboh have offered to donate a large expanse of land in excess of 100 hectares in Aboh for the development of the main campus of the university.
Contributing to the debate, the Deputy Senate President lamented the marginalisation of the Ndokwa people, adding that the federal constituency remains the only constituency without the presence of a higher institution in Delta State.
“The Ndokwa Federal Constituency produces so much to the economy of this country, not just by way of oil and gas deposits.
“Indeed, in the entire West Africa, it is Otorogun in my constituency and Okpai that hosts the highest gas deposits in the entire coast.
“Mr. President, notwithstanding this contribution, there’s nothing in that Federal Constituency that is in anyway commensurate with their contributions to the economy of this country.
“Mr. President, this Federal Constituency has been so marginalised.
“They have been crying for a higher institution either from the state government or federal government.
“But for some reason we are unable to explain, Mr. President, they have been deprived.
“The perception on the street in the federal constituency is that government is indeed very wicked to them.
“Mr. President, by bringing this bill, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi seeks to correct that perception.”
He added, saying, “Mr. President, about a month ago, notwithstanding these agitations, the Delta State government established three new state universities, but none was established in this federal constituency.
“Let me make it very clear, that those areas where the new universities were established are deserving. I’m not in anyway suggesting that they are not deserving.
“But this federal constituency is most deserving, taking into account that others already have higher institutions of learning – either federal or state.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred both bills seeking to establish a Federal University of Agriculture and Technology in Aboh (Delta State, and Araromi Obu (Ondo State), to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.
The Committee which is chaired by Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita is expected to carry out further legislative work on the bills and report back in four weeks.