Mr. Duji Efedua is the Rector of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron. During the World Maritime Day celebration in Lagos, he spoke exclusively to MMS Plus on several issues ranging from the roles of the interim management committee at the Academy, the capacity of workforce, the security challenges in riverine areas, amongst others. Enjoy it:
Restructuring At MAN Oron
The Maritime Academy of Nigerian (MAN) Oron was established about forty years ago to train seafarers for Nigeria and the world. The academy was doing fine but somewhere along the line, it derailed and lost focus. Unfortunately, this was as a result of some external interference here and there. People who had no business in teaching and people were mostly intellectually vacant when it comes to maritime found themselves at significant positions in the academy. The government had tried severally to intervene until the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi decided to come in, suspend the management and bring in an interim management to restructure and refocus the academy.
All the political jiggering around is not part of the mandate of the interim management committee. There was to be a graduation ceremony not long ago, the institution was ready to graduate some cadets but the committee found out that their results were not ready as at the set time for graduation. So, who would they have graduated? How would they have ascertained the best in the various fields and the overall best? The academy seemed to have lost focus or run out of ideas but we are restructuring so we are now speaking of training and retraining of personnel.
The restructuring process has begun and we would continue until we get what we want, which is the optimum standards in terms of the capacity of the workforce.
We can now channel the training the way it should be. For example, in the School of Medical Studies, you have only four navigational staff, how can you train? How can you train one thousand people with that? It is not possible and in Navy we have folios, but this one they have only four but what do we want to have. We have only two lecturers in the school for maritime studies. How would they cope and most of these lecturers are not the level they should be. They are not really current or up-to-date with the trending developments in the maritime domain. These are old men who have stayed there for years and I don’t think they are current in terms of the practices at present. So, the structuring will probably change most of these things now but the effects now would take some time because it took us forty years of work to reach this level so it cannot take us one year to change everything but we shall be focused and I am sure Nigerians will see the changes.
On Maritime Security
The challenges of security are enormous and they keep coming up in different ways and different patterns. The Marine Police are already overwhelmed; the Navy and Army have their hands already full with the restiveness in the North-East and Niger Delta. So, you shouldn’t be expecting so much from them, however, they are do their best. Calabar waters was bombarded by pirates in 2013/2014. They hijacked vessels coming from Cameroon. People died and properties were destroyed but then the Navy intervened within two weeks everything changed. That wasn’t the traditional role of the Navy but the Navy now stays there to ensure safety of lives and property at these locations.
Social problems and unemployment are major issues that lead most of these guys at the riverine areas to become pirates. Most of them are jobless and some of them didn’t go to school but they want to ride cars, build houses and enjoy all the good things life could offer. Since they couldn’t qualify as engineers, lawyers or doctors, even mechanics, some of them have made the resolve to take the short cuts to actualize their desire for wealth.
I don’t think the punishment given to them is strong enough to solve this issue because we have arrested many of them in the past. The next thing to be done is maybe to liase with them. The riverine communities’ members know the bad and good guys. If we cooperate with them, maybe the marine police could even work with them while the government explores opportunities that will guarantee optimal value in their own environment.
To address the problems of oil theft and illegal refining, the government could develop some modular refineries in these locations to engage these restive youths.
Remuneration for MAN Oron Staff
I am aware where officers are trained and get better enumerations at the oil companies, therefore they leave. However, this is not a challenge, if you want to know put up an advert and see the number of Nigerians that will apply and they will be qualified. Not everybody will be lucky to work in an oil company.
So, there are many people that will be waiting to be called up and when we advertise internally and externally. I want the best guys at the academy. The government has invested heavily on that and I will not like to let the government down. After the restructuring, only the qualified people at the academy will remain while the unqualified will be rationalized. They will find some other place in the ministry where they will work.
Well it is part of our mandate, we are working on that. We have been reaching out to our allies and some of them have responded positively. We have contacted the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN). The President of SOAN, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun is our member and he is also part of the interim committee for restructuring MAN Oron. We have been working on that on the sideways and we are making progress in that regard. I am sure that by December we will be able to grant you a better interview and say this is our score card.
Training vessels are crucial to resolving the challenges of seatime for cadets. However, it isn’t just any kind of vessel that meets the International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards for training cadets. There are some specified tonnage which the vessels must meet so that the people we train can be qualified to work anywhere in the world.
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