Last week’s town hall meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom showed a key disagreement between two ministers from the South Soth geopolitical zone over the fate of the Maritime University in Okerenko, Delta state. Whereas Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transport, believes that the project should be suspended until the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) concludes its investigation; Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum, believes that the project should be concluded “no matter the circumstance”.
The Maritime University is under the ministry of transportation, but Kachikwu doubled down on his advocacy to ensure that the project is not killed, by paying a surprise visit on Thursday to the university site in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
It is unclear under whose authority Kachikwu was visiting. Some reports claim that the president asked him to embark on the trip in order to have an “on-the-spot assessment of things”. However the odds of President Buhari sidestepping Amaechi and asking Kachikwu to visit the project site seems unlikely. If Kachikwu was acting alone, then his action may increase the gulf in the cabinet and may be frowned upon by the president.
Ultimately the ball is now in the President Buhari’s court. He will have to decide the path forward for the project and which of his two influential ministers he will heed. For a president whose approval rating in the South is low, his decision will be instructive.