President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the new University of Transportation, Daura in Katsina State, the first in Africa will provide technical skills, enhance managerial capacity and pave the way for innovation in Nigeria’s transport system as well as create more jobs for the citizens.
Buhari stated this yesterday in Daura, his country home at the ground-breaking ceremony of the university.
He said that the transport sector was in dire need of new thinking, skills and investment and assured Nigerians that the university will open up opportunities for economic growth.
The president said: “The project is part of the ongoing efforts of the federal government towards the promotion and development of indigenous capacity through technology acquisition and knowledge transfer to effectively maintain and operate the railway infrastructure.’’
Buhari further said that the policy on development of indigenous capacity would be vigorously pursued by the government, adding that, “when operational the university would among other things pave way for the domestication of railway engineering and general transportation sciences in Nigeria thereby bridging the technology and skill gap in the railway and ultimately transportation sector.’’
President Buhari added that the university, which is a baby of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), would be fully supported by the federal government with guidelines to ensure domestication that would support local infrastructure.
While commending the Katsina State government for speedily providing the land for the university, and the Ministry of Transportation for the initiative, Buhari said that his administration would continue to prioritise railway transportation to reduce the cost of transportation and ease the movement of goods and services.
In his remarks, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State said that the university would further boost the efforts of the state in providing sound education and technical skills to its indigenes.
The governor said that the infrastructure of the state had been improved with the construction of many roads, adding that the university would offer the requisite technical and managerial skills.
On his part, the minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said that he had no regrets siting the university in Daura.
According to him, “when we sited the factory at Kajola, there was no noise, nobody debated about it, nobody abused us 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 done, it is not because I want to get any gain,” Amaechi said.
He further explained that the establishment of the school was an attempt at responding to the question of how Nigeria would maintain the infrastructure it is 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 is to take our children to China and train them up to 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 where we can construct coaches, locomotives and wagons and today at Kajola that factory is being constructed.
”Finally, I insisted on the University of Transportation and today we are here for the groundbreaking of the institution and for all we are grateful to CCECC and the Chinese government,.” He said.
The managing director of CCECC, Jiang Yigao, expressed gratitude to President Buhari, saying that the project would not have been possible without his support.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, in his goodwill message said that “It is my great honour and pleasure to join you, as the largest developing country in the world; China values its relationship with Nigeria.
The managing director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, said that “this university came about due to the efforts of the minister, Rotimi Amaechi, who insisted that there should be a university as part of the corporate social responsibility of the contractors that are developing the rail industry in Nigeria: CRCC and the CCECC.”