The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said he had no regrets siting the transportation university in Daura.
Mr Amaechi said this at the ground breaking of the Transportation University in Daura, Katsina on Monday.
”When we sited the factory at Kajola, there was no noise, nobody debated about it, nobody abused us for it unlike the site for the university.
”Daura is in Nigeria, it is not in any other part of the world. It is not in Niger Republic, Biafra or Mali, it is in Nigeria. So, what is wrong in siting the University of Transportation in Daura?
”I have no regret siting this university where I have sited it, it is not because I want to get any gain,” Mr Amaechi said.
Daura is President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown thus leading to the controversy.
According to the minister, the establishment of the university was an attempt at responding to the question of how we (Nigeria) will maintain the infrastructure we are building in the country.
He said: ”It is my attempt at responding to the question of how to maintain and manage all the infrastructure we are building and realised that education is key.
”I engaged the companies, the first engagement was when they were constructing Lagos-Ibadan.
“They were not so keen at spending their funds to build a university for Nigeria until I refused to sign the contract for the Lagos to Ibadan railway.
”I insisted that I will only sign if three things were done.
“The first thing is to take our children to China and train them by giving them first degree in railway technology.
”Today as I speak, 60 of our children are in their second year and we thank CCECC and 90 are on their way to China this week, making it 150.
”The second is that, if we must sign the purchase of locomotives in China, they must build a factory were we can construct for coaches, locomotives and wagon and today at Kajola that factory is being constructed.
”Finally, I insisted on the University of Transportation and today we are here for the ground breaking of the University and for all we are grateful to CCECC and the Chinese government.”
The minister commended the Governor of Katsina for the speed in which he donated the land for the project.
He said the land which is about 413 hectares was donated by the Katsina government and it has promised to increase it.
He also commended the various governors, ministers, stakeholders, the Chinese government and all who have made the project a success.
The Chairman, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Ibrahim Hassan, described the university as the first of its kind which would boost economy and educational quest of Nigerians.
Mr Hassan said that Engineering courses as regards to transportation would be introduced, adding that courses like Marine, road, rail and inland water transportation would be the main focus.
On the challenges faced by the rail sector, he said the board was committed to improving the welfare of staff and exposing them to modern technology.
According to the Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, the university came about due to the persistence of the minister.
”Amaechi insisted that there should be a university as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the contractor that is developing the rail industry in Nigeria that is the CRCC and the CCECC.
”We believe that from their profit they should do something meaningful for Nigeria so that we can develop human capacity and Nigerians can benefit from the on-going rail modernisation,” Mr Okhiria said.
On Nigeria’s commitment to the project, he said there was no contribution from Nigeria except that we (Nigeria) gave them (the contractors) work to modernise our rail.
On the completion of the project, Mr Okhiria said it could be about two years, adding ”we hope that by the time we get the rail from Ibadan to Kano the University should be in place”.
”And remember that we have about 150 Nigerians that we have sent to China, among which some of them will become lecturers, some practitioners in the rail engineering processes.
”So we expect them to get to PhD level and that is the idea of sending them to China to specialize in transportation.
”So that by the time they come back here, we will have the lecturers in place to pioneer and continue the process of indigenizing the University.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the university would offer courses and award degrees in Railway Engineering.