Smarting from his reappointment to a second four years term, the Rector of the premier Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, Amb (Dr) Joshua Okpo has vowed to leave no stone unturned in his effort to structurally develop and academically upgrade the status of the Academy in the comity of maritime academies of the world.
In an apparent show of appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for re-appointing him, Amb. Okpo who has bagged various Excellence Awards as the best performing rector of MAN Oron, in terms of physical and academic development, promised to use the next four years to provide facilities, complete ongoing projects and as well as upgrade the syllabus to give the academy a degree and post graduate certificate awarding status, pointing out that a bill to that effect has been sent to the Ministry of Transport for approval.
Amb. Okpo made this known to journalists in his office recently, thanking God for the opportunity to enable him consolidate on his achievements. He solicited for unflinching support of the media which he said has helped to place MAN ORON on world map and would be indispensable in this second term to build a solid system with a solid foundation.
He however, pleaded with journalists to always cross check their facts on the academy before publishing stories, nothing that due process is always followed in all projects implementation to check fraud.
The Rector took a swipe at critics and desperate contractors who are out to run down the academy by exaggeration on the funding, explaining that statutory allocation to the academy is not for project alone but covers other areas like training, insurance, personal cost, among others
Okpo stressed the paramount concern of the management of MAN Oron on passing the mandatory Audit Test to ensure the position of the academy in the white list of International Maritime Organization (IMO). ‘We have to do well in the audit test because this is the only way we can continue to train seafarers’, he added.
He therefore called on the government to act fast by releasing before Dec. 2015, the N 2.5 billion approved for the audit exercise to enable the academy update and procure simulator and other equipment required that will help the academy not to go to Ghana for training and as well, sustain the status of the academy on the white list of IMO.
The Rector also appealed that subsequent releases to the academy should be reviewed to 15% against the current 5%, to accommodate more projects.
Fielding questions on management of funds, the Rector explained that the Public Procurement Acts regulate the spending limit of the academy and that as a measure of prudence, Banks have been advised to ensure payments to contractors only through accounts approved by the academy, saying that some contractors operate multiple accounts for reasons known to them but the academy will deal with them via one account.
Okpo frowned at the deliberate distortion of facts by some people who spread falsehood to paint one black or embarrass his management and enumerated projects like ICT center, many new and renovated structures etc he has undertaken to be seen by the critics.
Present at the occasion, were the management staff of the academy.
By SUNNY EDEMENANG – UYO