- Sets up 6- man committee to reposition academy
- Senate urged to create laws to protect shippers
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi is believed to have frozen the accounts of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron as he sets up a six (6) man committee to reposition the academy.
The committee which is chaired by the former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi is expected to show up at MAN Oron this week to begin implementation of its recommendations to the Transport Minister, who upon acceptance of the report charged them to transform the academy.
Although the content of the recommendations hasn’t been made known to the public, a confidential source has disclosed to MMS Plus that some of the recommendations include the laying off some of the management staff of the academy especially those who hail from Oron and other towns in Akwa Ibom. .
While this has begun to cause serious politicking at the institution as several members of staff are jostling to survive the shake-off, indigenes are gearing up to riot even as MMS Plus also gathered that there would be merging of some departments at the institution.
Our source at the academy has attributed the myriad of challenges facing the institution to the dearth of skilled workforce. He said; “The major problem is the lack of qualified lecturers. The school doesn’t have a special salary scale, so if you have a Marine Engineer who wants to teach, which should be the equivalent of a position of a Director but he would be receiving less than N400,000 whereas a Marine Engineer who works somewhere else earns up to N2million usually with a car and other perks.”
“There was a man (Capt. Ekpa) who the school trained abroad to handle the accumulator, when the man came back as the first person the school trained for that specialization, he got an offer in Mobil where he was paid close to N2million with a car and a house, so he left.” He said.
Meanwhile some concerned stakeholders have posited that the Minister of Transportation has made a mistake by appointing the committee to preside over the restructuring rather than appointing a rector to work with the recommendation of the committee.
“The Transport Minister is making a mistake because the academy like any other university in the country has three principal officers, the Rector, Bursar and Registrar and these three positions are tenured. Mkpadiok A. Mkpadiok is the Registrar who was only functioning as the Acting Rector because he is the most senior staff at the academy. He retires next year; so, Amaechi should have appointed a rector and handed over the documents and recommendations of the committee to the rector to reposition the institution” the source said.
Meanwhile, the new 6-man committee which has been given six months to complete the reforms has created a financial mayhem at the agency as the institution has been rendered financially handicapped.
Prior to the committee’s inauguration by the Minister, disbursement of revenue at the institution could be done with at least two signatories out of the four principal officers at the academy, they include, the rector, registrar, bursar and the chief accountant, however, the Minister has declared that no funds should be appropriated whilst the committee begins work.
Stakeholders have begun to inquire whether the committee members would be signatory to the accounts for the time-being especially as the committee is said to have called the Acting Rector, Mkpadiok and instructed him not to spend any money from the academy’s purse.
Amaechi had also urged the newly appointed Rector of the Academy, Cdr. Duja Effedua to work with the committee, saying he could also act in that capacity after the assignment of the committee was over.
“The Federal Government had appointed the Rector with the idea to work with the committee and he can only act as a Rector after the committee is done with their assignment,’’ Amaechi said in a press release.
Reacting to this, the President of Nigerian Institute of Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers(NIFFCB), Dr. Zebulon Ikokide said that the idea of freezing the Academy’s account is procedural in event of developments like this, but added that the committee must have equally recommended for the upgrade of the school to a university hence the Minister wanted them to implement their recommendations.
Meanwhile, the fact that the committee members would lodge in Le Meridien Hotel, in Uyo has begun to raise question as to who would foot the bills for six months or what arrangements the committee has made with regards to having its presence at Uyo.
With the average rooms at Le Meriden costing as much as N100,000 per day, the committee require N108,000,000 for cover for its accommodation during the 6 months; the committee comprises bigwigs and one of them could take care of this bill but sources say the bill would be paid by the Ministry of Transport.
In another development, the President of Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) Rev. Jonathan Nicol has called on the Nigerian Senate to establish laws to protect the interest of Nigerian shippers.
Nicol had posited that shippers have become the biggest losers in the maritime sector as a result of the absence of laws that cater for shippers in the country.
Nicol who was speaking during an exclusive chat with MMS Plus said, “There are no laws to protect shippers in Nigeria. Almost all Nigerian laws are against the shippers and this is something the Senate must address because shippers are responsible for the cargo which brings so much revenue for the nation. You can point to the Shippers’ Council Act which says “protect the shippers” but how are they protecting us when the shipping lines, customs duty and other government charges would not let us operate? Even Shippers’ Council’s role as economic regulator hasn’t got the legal backing! Shippers are open to different harsh assaults from all corners of the environment.”
“It is fair enough that the Senate has started probing some of the cartels (shippers) that have been involved in fraudulent practices to avoid paying duties, but they can’t stop there. Shippers need laws to protect their interest and the Senate must provide such laws. The Senate should be jolted if they think Nigerian shippers are protected. Why ask someone to protect a group without giving them the necessary backing in a terrain that is full of people with darkened negative thoughts and actions.” He added.
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