By Godwin Oritse
THE Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron, in Akwa Ibom State, was held hostage for long by people that had parochial interest, Rector of the academy, Commodore Emmanuel Efedua, (Rtd) has said.
Speaking at the 2018 Passing Out Parade and graduation ceremony of the nation’s premier maritime institute, Efedua said that the academy had lost focus and got entangled with certain actors that held the institution hostage.
Efedua also said that to give quality training to the cadets in the school, management had to reduce the number of admitted cadets by about 80 percent.
He explained that before, the number of admitted cadets was about 2,000 which has been reduced to about 226.
The former Naval officer said that the academy now takes only 88 cadets for Higher National Diploma, HND and 166 Ordinary National Dipolma training.
Efedua further explained that his mandate at the academy is to ensure that cadets get quality training while the recommendations of the Interim Management Committee are carried out.
He stated: “We lost focus, we got entangled with certain actors who eventually held us hostage, they were not interested in the training of cadets and development of the academy, they were more interested in contracts.
“We also failed to exploit opportunities offered by our maritime stakeholders”, he added.
He also said that there was the recruitment of staff that was not based on competence but for political consideration and welfare purposes and such did not follow due process, adding that some of the staff had no business being at the academy.
“This is a specialized school, it is not a school for all comers. Because we got lost and entangled, there was a lot of mass failure in up grading and in terms of teaching aids, there was absence of critical equipment like simulators for various trainings.
“The staffing was not balanced because 95 percent of teaching staff were academics, the academics were excellent, some of them have PhDs and they are highly respected worldwide.
“But the cadets needed professionals, there must be a blend, for a man who has never been on board, you cannot give what you do not have.
“So this operational gap was recognized by the IMC and the current management and they did some things to resolve the problems.
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“We also admitted cadets who had no business being at the academy in the past.
“There was a case of a class that had 75 percent failure and we had to re-do the exams to fix the problem.
“The issue is that if you are not competent to come as a cadet, there is little anybody can do for you.
“We also had the problem of over bloated staff strength.
“When we first came, the staff strength was not even known, we had to do biometric and the numbers actually emerged and we came to about 690.
“In between then and now, some have retired and some have also passed on.
“There were also a lot of meddling from certain persons from our operational locality and by the time they cause trouble and you go after them, they up ethnic politics. The National Assembly has received over 6,500 petitions from people who saw us as enemies.
“At a point the National Assembly realized that most of these petitions were written by opportunists who were just there to distract the current management.
“Before now intakes used to be about 2,000 collectively. When you have this over bloated cadets’ strength, the facilities are over stretched.
“In some hostels that are meant for two persons, you find 18 persons. “Classrooms meant for thirty persons, you find 80 persons there which was not too good.
“We have taken a decision and the Governing Council has also given us policy direction, the “International Maritime Organization has also given us policy direction too.
“We are now going to have thirty per class”.