The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi yesterday said that poor application of resources, poor academic environment and numerous abandoned projects have stunted the growth of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
The Minister disclosed this when he commissioned projects embarked upon to reposition the academy by the Rector, Commodore Emmanuel Effedua (rtd) at the institution.
He however lauded the Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron for turning the fortune of the academy around.
The minister had commissioned the academy’s new auditorium, two air conditioned class rooms, sport stadium, Information Technology (ICT) centres, simulator centre and Library complex.
But, speaking after the commissioning, the Minister said the Interim Management Committee (IMC) set up to reposition the academy in 2017 had complained about poor application of government resources at the academy.
According to the minister, a former Rector of the academy, Late Joshua Okpo had mismanaged N19billion of the academy in one year.
According to him, that had also contributed to the stunted growth of the institution.
“I don’t think this school lacks money because the former man who died when I look at his books, in one year, he spent N19billion. If you give me the money I will turn this place around and when I told him I will investigate him, two or three weeks later, he died I don’t know what killed him but if he had been alive we would have looked at how he spent N19billion because there were uncompleted projects,” he stated.
However, the minister advised the Rector to employ qualified lecturers even if it entails hiring lecturers from abroad.
He said, “The IMC had recommended that the bane of the academy were poor academic environment, Numerous abandoned projects and poor application of resources that they get from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) so to get what we are looking for, we have to reverse those three things identified. We have been able to complete those projects that have been abandoned.”
Speaking on hiring of qualified lecturers, Amaechi said, “We have promised to hire more lecturers especially from outside the country. The government must enable them to do that and key to that, we must also train our people because at the end the day those coming from oversee will deserve special funds and the government must enable them to do that but key to that is we must send our people out for training because those from oversee will desire special funds and will not still wait back so we have to send our people for training and bring them back to takeover from people we have hired to teach so that is more of a short term measure.
When asked if master mariners could not be employed to fill the vacant academic position, the Minister said that would be only if they are qualified.
“If the master mariners are qualified we will hire them because we must look for the best. if the master mariners are the best we must hire them and in that it will help save the foreign exchange but, if they are not the best because we are looking for the best even if it mean spending foreign exchange then we have to spend it to get the best quality and then train our own to take over from them.”
The Minister of Transportation who commended the academy’s management further urge them to invest more in acquisition of equipment for the cadets.
“We also promise to buy equipment especially now that they are buying simulator and other equipment. We have to focus on other equipment to make the academy a first class maritime academy. He continued, “The academy has improved in terms of infrastructure, building but it takes more than building to deal with academy. We need to deal with equipment, teachers because if there are no teachers and equipment, it could be be described as an hotel but we need to get more than that and that is why we need to encourage and fund them.”
Speaking earlier, the Rector, of the academy also revealed that 80 percent of abandoned projects, hitherto left uncompleted, have so far been completed and remodeled.
The Rector stated that the current management of the Academy has implemented 100 percent of the recommendations of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) headed by former NPA boss, Chief Adebayo Sarunmi.
According to the Rector, “We have implemented the recommendations of the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) hundred percent. However, we have also discovered other challenges which the IMC didn’t capture in their recommendations, and most of them are being tackled.””Concerning abandoned projects, 80percent of them have been completed and remodeled. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have been attracted here, alongside the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. We are going to meet with them in Lagos next month again because they have promised to add more values to us.”The Academy has also been attracting the International Oil Companies (IOC), and Exxon Mobil was here just last week to discuss with us. Next week, the OPTS will also be here.”We have also engaged professionals in the maritime industry to come in here and add value to us. Some of the professionals engaged so far are the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) and their engineering counterparts, who should be here next month.”Last year, we focused on physical infrastructure. This year, we are focusing on equipments and training. This auditorium that we are seated right now and the ICT commissioned earlier today are part of the dividend of last years effort.”Tomorrow, the Indian engineers who are partnering with us to ensure we have the necessary equipments, will arrive Abuja; and by Thursday, they should be in Oron to visit the simulation centre to take note of the necessary measurement. Hopefully, by November 2019, the multifunctional classrooms should be in place. “As soon as we complete talks with the Indians and payments are made or Letters of Credits opened, our own staff will go and train where these equipments are produced. We need to have those who will operate this equipment, and those who will maintain them, so that we will not rely on foreigners to man our equipments for us after they have been installed. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past, where equipment were brought in and just dumped here.”Concerning our lecturers, I am comfortable with the few we have, but not comfortable with their numbers. The numbers of lecturers we have are highly inadequate. So we have made efforts, both home and abroad. Already, some are coming from Egypt. We will be conducting the interview in Egypt since that will be cheaper for us to handle. “Already, 15 lecturers have been employed so far, mostly for Navigation and Radar Plotting. We have also employed some Marine Engineers, and we will still employ more lecturers.”As regards the allowances of our lecturers, the Minister has urged us to provide something that will encourage people to want to come here and work with us, while also residing here. It is achievable, and we will surely look into this. “In the area of sea time for our cadets, we are already in talks with relevant shipowners, and we will be concluding talks with them in two weeks time. We have the money to pay for our cadets to ensure they have,sea time onboard vessels. “We are also approaching the Navy to ask them to place two cadets onboard their vessels. The Navy has over 50 operational ships, meaning 15 ships can take about 30 of our cadets for seatime, which represents one stream of our cadets.”