By DAPO OLAWUNI
Commodore Duja Effedua (rtd) Rector of Nigeria’s foremost seafarers training academy; Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron Akwa Ibom State was appointed into office on the 5th of September, 2017. His appointment was as a drastic move to salvage what was left of the academy.
The Academy popularity called MAN Oron was formerly known as the Nautical College of Nigeria, established in 1979 by the Federal Executive Council No.EC.(77) 172.
It was designed as an integrated institution for the education and training of shipboard officers, ratings and shore-based management personnel.
The Academy graduated its first batch of Cadets in 1983. In 1988, the scope of the college was upgraded by the promulgation Decree No. 16 of 1988 with a statutory mandate to train all levels and categories of personnel required for the effective and efficient operation of all facets of the Nigerian Maritime Industry.
However, poor management of the Academy had left it in a state of decadence for several years until the appointment of Duja Effedua in 2017.
Here is a detailed chronicle of how the Academy has been transformed under his watch.
Review of curriculum/cadets’ intake reduction
One of the first tasks carried out by the Duja Effedua-led management was to review the Academy’s curriculum and reduce cadets’ intake. A review of existing curriculum was conducted with inputs from the IMO, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Association of Marine Engineers and Ship Surveyors of Nigeria (AMES), National Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Consequently, the number of cadets’ intake which hitherto was about 1,800 was reduced to 259 in the 2018/2019 academic session and 261 for the 2019/2020 academic session.
Upgrade of learning facilities
Existing classrooms and lecture theatres were in deplorable states with very old, broken and unbefitting chairs and desks. These classrooms/lecture theatres have been renovated and remodelled to smart classrooms, furnished and equipped with modern multimedia teaching facilities, including smart interactive whiteboards. Furthermore, abandoned projects for the construction of two additional blocks of classrooms were completed, furnished and commissioned. Similarly, the Academy’s Survival Pool which was constructed over 19 years ago never functioned due to poor construction work. The pool consistently failed to retain water beyond 24 hours after pumping. The same survival pool has been reconstructed and remodelled into two survival training pools and is currently in use.
The Academy’s former library was a makeshift arrangement and unbefitting of a training institution. This was further compounded as a structure initially constructed to serve as the Academy Library and Resource Centre was also never utilised as it was abandoned. The building decayed extensively over the years and equally became unbefitting of a standard library facility for a training institution. However, on assumption of duty by the current management in 2017, the structure was completed and remodeled to the standard befitting of a modern library. The new library facility has since been commissioned and put to effective use. It is stocked with relevant books, furnished and equipped with surveillance systems to prevent stealing of books. Efforts are ongoing to provide more books of reference. The Academy has also made contacts with the IMO, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Defense Attachees to the United Kingdom and India to assist in locating the relevant books and teaching aids for purchase to enhance cadets training. Following these efforts, the IMO in 2018 donated over 200 current publications and books to the Academy. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has also expressed willingness to provide the Academy with more relevant books of reference while the UNITAR has also pledged to assist the Academy in areas of equipment and facilities.
Procurement of simulators from India
The Academy has procured three modern advance simulators from a reputable simulator company, the Applied Research International Simulation, India. The procured simulators are the Full Mission Bridge Simulator, the Full Mission Engine Room Simulator and the Multifunctional Classroom Simulator which has capacity for 30 students per session with software for other stand-alone simulators. The multifunctional classroom has the ECDIS, GMDSS, APAR RADARM High voltage training software, rules of the road, pilotage and blind pilotage and the DP all integrated into it. The delivery of the simulators has since been done at the Academy and will be commissioned by the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi anytime soon. With the procurement of these simulators, a first of its kind in Africa by any training institution, the Academy is currently an institution to beat in terms of equipment.
Free learning materials for cadets
All the cadets in the Academy have been issued with a laptop each and books of reference as well as relevant publications for free as against previous arrangement where cadets were issued with pamphlets only. It is pertinent to state that this measure was a precursor to the online lectures for cadets and has facilitated ease of learning and consolidated on the improved standard of training. In addition, cadets now enjoy free mandatory short courses. This comes as a plus for cadets as they do not need to come back after graduating to pay and do these courses
Recruitment of more professionals
The Academy has employed additional 51 professionals including two captains (Master Mariners); one from India and the other from Nigeria since 2018. The employment of the selected professionals was to fill critical positions that will enhance the quality of training as well as training related support services. Also, improvements have been made in the welfare of the academic staff unit to encourage them and boost productivity. With more professionals coming onboard, the Academy has opened course files for lecturers in line with global best practices. Hitherto, course files for lecturers were non-existent. The IMO during the last audit of the Academy in December 2017 directed that lecturers should have a course file and this directive has been complied with.
The exact staff strength of the Academy could not be determined as at when the current management resumed in office. This necessitated an audit exercise using biometrics to capture all staff of the Academy. The outcome revealed that as of July 2018, the staff strength of the Academy was 639 as against the strength of 804 previously declared; thus, weeding out 165 ghost workers previously in the system. As part of the exercise, a new smart identity card was issued to the present staff. The card has a microchip that contains all information about each staff and is also configured for access control as well as the biometric staff attendance clock-in/clock-out systems installed to check attendance related infractions by staff. Furthermore, to consolidate on the gains of the staff audit, an exercise to determine the authenticity of certificates presented by staff (academic and non-academic) at the point of employment and during their service in the Academy was conducted in October 2019. This further exposed some irregularities in employment as about 96 staff were found to have been employed either with fake certificates or without any result at all.