An Academy Known For Prudent Spending

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The Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron, has been under attack by some online publications and some unscrupulous newspapers via sponsored editorial content that the Academy has received N13 billion in the last three years from NIMASA and can not account for that amount. There is no truth in that report. As media men we must not rush to press with every information that we gather. Fact as it is always said is sacred. The press as a watchdog of the society owe the nation a duty of deep patriotism as they hold public office holders to accountability. This is even more critical in a government that is known for its change mantra where public office holders are expected to go to equity with clean hands. The Academy is the nation’s premier maritime institution in Nigeria.

It is among the three recognised maritime institutions in West Africa and one of the topmost maritime institutions in Africa. At the global level, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, is among the over 500 maritime institutions recognised by the International Maritime Organisation, IMO. The academy has almost three thousand cadets drawn from different parts of Nigeria and the west Africa sub-region. The Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron has over the years gone through various degrees of facility upgrade, infrastructural development, certification and human capital development amongst others.

The academy is currently pursuing a degree-awarding status and the IMO and the World Maritime Academy at different times have sent their officials under the Joshua Okpo-led administration to evaluate the academy and in return, glorious and satisfactory comments were made by top officials of the two global institutions. This is not only a huge credit to Okpo but to Nigeria as a Maritime nation. Indeed, the huge progress recorded under the Okpo-led administration was as a result of the judicious use of the five percent statutory allocation from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. But it must be noted that out of the less than N9billion that the Academy has received between 2011 and 2015, and not N18 billion or N13billion as some people alleged including the intervention funds, was tied to several projects in the Nigeria Maritime Academy, Oron. In fact, some of the projects were awarded to contractors based on budgetary provisions from the five percent allocation by NIMASA.

If our people-journalists really want to be fair to the academy, they will soon find out that Okpo has no hand in the award of most of those contracts. It is therefore not just the duty of the media to mention a bogus amount allocated to the academy, the onus is equally on the media to find out what and what the statutory allocations were used for. While it is not proper to place government documents in the public space for all to see, those with a chequered history and sense of patriotism will recall that from mid-2011 till when Okpo’s appointment was renewed by this administration for a second tenure, a section of the media who finds it hard to come to the academy have continued to publish baseless issue and sometimes a figment of their imagination.

As an institution of government that is recognised worldwide, the academy under the Okpo-led administration has upgraded the programmes of the academy to international standard in line with STCW and NBTE’s requirements. The upgrades of facilities and infrastructure are there for many who cared to visit the academy to see. Bad press, whether sponsored or indeed the figment of the writers’ imagination, will not help our institutions. Yes, we need a vibrant press in Nigeria but it must be a press that is prepared for development communication. That is the direction the world press is going and Nigeria can not be left out. The era of vulture journalism is fast going into extinct. The Okpo-led management wishes to urge members of the press who are known for factual reporting and well-meaning Nigerians especially maritime stakeholders to disregard those mischievous writers and their medium. The academy remains resolute in its drive to remain a citadel of knowledge in the training of cadets/seafarers for the merchant navy and its allied industry.

Before now, officials of IMO, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, traditional rulers etc, have commended the academy laboratories comprising Electronic Maintenance and Repairs, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics laboratory, autotronics laboratory, modern simulators, medical laboratory and theatre, as well as modern classrooms and hostels amongst others. These are some of the things that have been done apart from the contracts awarded directly from either budgetary provisions or projects/contracts that were awarded by the statutory agency and for which payments were tied to the intervention funds from NIMASA. The academy under Okpo is transparently administered.

Some people prefer a situation where things will not be made public and it will afford them opportunities to milk the system but Okpo from the first day of assumption of office insisted on open door policy and transparency. Anytime he gets allocation from NIMASA he tells his management team and the appropriation of funds including direct labour jobs are discussed in the open. How then can Okpo and his management be said to have mismanaged allocations from NIMASA. We urge members of the community and some persons from outside who are bent on pulling the academy down to desist from this act. We have a responsibility as maritime stakeholders to make the academy our national pride.

God bless Nigeria

Ovie Edomi,

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