A six-man interim management committee set up to restructure Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) at Oron, Akwa Ibom State, may face challenges of inadequate funding, low capacity and the necessary equipment to compete. BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports
The oldest nautical institution in the country, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, was established in 1979 by the Federal Government to admit and train various levels of personnel required for running and operating ships of the merchant navy, technical manpower for ports, marine engineering, workshops, piloting and navigation, marine insurance, hydrograph and other related services. Thirty eight years after, it has not achieved the purpose for which it was set up due to lack of funds and necessary infrastructure to enable it compete with other maritime institutions in line with international standards.
Some of the challenges facing the institution include training equipment, training vessels, simulation, access to sea time experience by cadets and underfunding. The academy, according to its Registrar, Mkpandiok Ante Mkpandiok, currently owe some contractors a lot of money for various projects executed in the school.
Besides, over 5,000 cadets of the academy cannot secure the Certificate of Competency (CoC), a mandatory requirement to secure job on board ship, due to lack of sea time training.
Mkpandiok explained that the industry had suffered from dearth of professionals because the cadets that were produced yearly lacked the requisite experience to fill the available vacancies in the industry because of the long standing problem of vessels for training. He noted that once the cadets passed out from the school, they find it difficult to proceed to the second phase of their mandatory training because of sea time training.
Besides, the Oron ethnic group has been mounting pressure on the Federal Government to appoint an indigene of the town as substantive rector of the academy. According to Oron Youth Movement, the indigenes have been in the forefront of the struggle since 1999 for the enthronement of a transparent, accountable and democratic leadership at the academy.
The group said that government should appoint an Oron indigene to head the institution. Already, a bill to transform the academy to a federal university has been passed by the Senate. The bill was sponsored by Senator Nelson Effiong.
Miffed by these insurmountable challenges, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, set up a committee eight months ago to look into the academy’s problems. Following the report of the committee last week, the minister transmuted the committee to a six-man interim management committee with a mandate to restructure, assess and give recommendations for the overhaul of the academy within six months.
Also, he approved the appointment of Cdr. Duja Effedua as the rector in acting capacity pending the assignment of the committee. The minister explained that the Federal Government appointed the rector with the idea to work with the committee. The committee is chaired by a former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi, and Mr Sani Umar as secretary.
Other members are Capt. Adamu .A. Biu; Engr. Olu Akinsoji; Engr. Greg Ogbeifun and the Director, Maritime Safety & Security, Federal Ministry of Transport, Mr D.M. Dauda.
Amaechi, while inaugurating the committee in Abuja, said that the Federal Government had approved the implementation of the reports earlier submitted by the committee. He said that the ministry would provide the necessary resources to enable the committee function properly.
Responding, Sarumi said that the committee was willing to carry out the approved recommendations given to them. He said that the committee would complete its task within the duration of six months as instructed. Last line An alliance by the Federal Government agencies to assist the academy can bridge the gap in the demand and supply chain of professionals, which had caused a setback in the industry.