The joint coalition of the Akwa Ibom Youth Council (AIYC) and the Essu Nlap Oron Development Organization (ENODO), have expressed their yearning to have the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, upgraded to a degree awarding institution, to the Federal Government.
The presidents of the two associations made this known during a press briefing in Lagos, adding that if the academy is turned into a conventional university it will be run by the National Universities Commission (NUC), which does not have the ability to fund it.
The National president of ENODO, Mr. Chris Ante stated that the academy is the only federal presence in the Oron community, so the youth has a mandate to act as watchdogs in the affairs of the institution, adding that the academy which was established in 1978 by the FG for the purpose of training middle level manpower for the maritime sector, presently has a visionary leader sent to superintendent over the affairs of the academy.
According to him, “On his arrival as the Rector of the academy, Mr. Joshua Okpo met a very hostile host community that negatively affected the learning of the cadets but because of his visionary ability he was able to broker peace between the host communities, making the environment of the academy conducive for learning, he was able to established a cordial relationship with the Oron communities, the state government and the five Oron communities because of his open door policy.
“After the graduation of cadets, they are supposed to be provided with international sea time and in order to achieve this there is need for the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to accredit the school for safety. He has signed the academy into the international maritime community; this means that they have access to foreign vessels for sea time. The rector has also been working for the academy to have its own vessel to take cadets on sea time. He added.
Similarly, The National president of Akwa Ibom Youth Council, Mr. Gabriel Thompson said, “In terms of staff welfare the rector has employed over 600 Nigerians and over 360 Oronians, which is the host community and they all work in the academy. He ensures that the staffs are well cared for in terms of allowances, salaries and quality of service delivery. The President Muhammadu Buhari, identifies with good governance and in his wisdom, reappointed him for another 4years.
“Right now, MAN Oron is funded by 5 percent of NAMASA revenue. The rector is canvassing for 10 percent support from NIMASA to provide sophisticated equipment. If MAN, Oron goes to NUC, the NIMASA support will stop and Nigeria will be delisted from the international white list of countries with specialized maritime institutions.” He explained.
The group pleaded with the President to upgrade the academy, provide vessel for cadets, since Nigeria no longer has the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) affirming that because funds coming to the academy is well managed people of the Oron nation wants to share the money of MAN, Oron, and since the Rector refused a group called, the Youth Movement are calling for his removal in a petition which claims that the Rector has been awarding contracts to staff.
The group declared their support for the Rector and called on the general public to disregard the allegations as they cannot be substantiated, while thanking Mr. President for appreciating the giant strides of the administrator by giving him a second opportunity to do more.
Gabriel enthused that the rector is a member of the committee and people in the community of Oron has risen against the Rector even as Akwa Ibom people are peaceful people lamenting that MAN, Oron is a Federal Government establishment and so is not an instruction for politics.
In his words, “We have interest in the maritime because we are riverine people and our children have interest in the maritime, we monitor the activities of the Rector of the academy and knowing he has done well, It will be wrong to sit back and watch some selfish individuals who are actually skimming to have their own indigene as rector, make false allegations against him.”