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‘Capacity building key to sustained growth in maritime sector’

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Okpo

Okpo

THE board of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) is collaborating with the institution’s management team to prepare the academy for a degree awarding status.

Already, relevant infrastructures and skilled manpower according to MAN are in place while efforts have been intensified to secure more support from the federal government.

Chairman of MAN board, Chief Mike Adiotomre, said: “When we came into the Academy, we were given a specific mandate by the Minister of Transport to prepare the Academy for a degree awarding status.

Our specific vision this year is that we are working assiduously with the management of the academy to realise this noble dream. “We are putting viable infrastructure in place; competent skilled manpower are already on ground; lecture halls, other needed facilities have been put in place.

“We are also expecting more from the federal government. When President Goodluck Jonathan visited Akwa Ibom State recently, he reiterated his administration’s preparedness to upgrade the status of the Academy.

“The Minister of Transport, Idris Umar had also confirmed this at different fora. So, we are very mindful of this goal and we are pursuing it religiously”, Adiotomre added According to Adiotomre, the academy has recorded significant progress “by way of quality development”.

Speaking in Lagos, recently, he assured members of the public especially stakeholders that the academy is working closely with international agencies in the area of capacity building.

He said: “If you visit the academy now, you would see state-of-the-art infrastructure; some new roads have been constructed and old ones rehabilitated, hostels for male and female cadets built; modern and well furnished residential structures for staff put in place, lecture halls have been built, quality facilities to fast track effective teaching and learning provided.

“In the area of manpower development, we have trained both senior and junior staff, including cadets. Some lecturers have been sent abroad to update their knowledge and sharpen their skills for optimal performance.

“In the area of community relations, peaceful and rancour-free working environment, we have done so much to sustain the prevailing peace in the academy and the host communities”.

Speaking on conflict resolution, the board chairman said prior to the appointment of the present Rector and the Governing Council, “there was serious communal crisis between Udung Okung in Eyoabasi community and Idua Ukpatta group of villages, all in Oron Local Government Area.

Today, the ugly scenario has been consigned into the dust bin of history as the two communities now co-exist and relate effectively with each other, and their people eat, dine and wine together, courtesy peaceful steps we took as management and governing council to resolve the crisis.

We have also sustained corporate social responsibility to the host communities and ensured full implementation of the local content policy of the federal government.

“In fact, we are at peace with all relevant stakeholders in the community; staff, cadets and students of the Academy, especially with Rector, Joshua Okpo who has made us proud through his result-oriented administrative style”.

International Institutions. “The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is the highest policy making and supervisory organ of Maritime Institutions in the world.

We also have Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). It is the expectation of these two bodies that MAN, Oron gives her Cadets sea time experience so as to meet the growing demands for competent skilled manpower in the global maritime industry.

“So, the steps taken by Joshua Okpo-led administration in collaboration with the Governing Council under my watchful eyes will secure a brighter future for our cadets. “Arrangement is being made to send some of our cadets to overseas for mandatory sea time.

Some of our staff (both senior and junior) has also been sent abroad to update their knowledge and sharpen their skills for enhanced service delivery.

“You know we do not have a training ship to enable our cadets acquire sea time. That is why preparations are in top gear to send them to countries with training ships.

Through this arrangement, our products would compete favourably with their counterparts from other countries in the maritime global market. “As the academy grows, our ultimate goal is to acquire our own training ship.

That is going to be determined by the rhythm of economy. If the Nigeria economy improves, the Minister will graciously approve a training ship for the academy.

That is our ultimate expectation and we pray that our economy improves soon”. Training Ship “We have engaged in fruitful collaborative talks with renowned Maritime Institutions in various countries such as Sweden, United Kingdom, (UK), South Africa, Turkey and others, to explore available areas of interest in training of cadets and exchange of programmes and lecturers.

Adiotomre

Adiotomre

“The arrangement will not stop us (Nigerians) from making our internal arrangement to procure training ship for our cadets. As I said earlier, that will depend on the rhythm of the economy.

Training ship is very expensive. However, we are satisfied with the status of our cadets. Let me inform you that cadets who finished from Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron are doing very well in the maritime world. “Some are occupying sensitive positions in the Maritime industry.

During the last Alumni Conference at the World Maritime University, Malmo in Sweden and that of London, I witnessed our products featuring prominently in all activities and that gave us so much joy and satisfaction.

We were very excited. I am very proud to be associated with MAN, Oron. The name, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, (MAN), Oron has gone far and is strategically positioned in the comity of Maritime Institutions in the world.

“We had meeting with NIMASA, recently, and the Director General, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi was full of commendations and praises to the Governing Council and Management of MAN, Oron for the positive steps taken to reposition the academy in line with global best standards. Already, we have a good number of our ex-cadets working with NIMASA.

“The DG also told us that he met with a good number of ex-cadets of MAN, Oron in overseas and they were doing very well in the Maritime Industry, which is the ultimate thing the federal government is expecting from MAN, Oron. The Maritime Academy of Nigeria is doing very well. As it is often said, prophets are not valued in their homes.

Oron people may not really appreciate what they have. Academy has trained so many people to man the maritime industry and we must sustain the tempo.

“We can only sustain that if there is peace in that environment. So, let me use this special medium to call on the host communities of MAN, Oron to maintain peace and continue to support Joshua Okpo and the Governing Council to take the academy to the next level of greatness. Manpower development ”It’s been pursued vigorously and we would continue to pursue it.

The truth is that the federal government has realized the importance of maritime industry and is encouraging the academy to train more professionals to cope with the growing demands for Seafarers in the industry.

“You are aware that in the world today, the Maritime Industry is desirous that we develop MAN, Oron to such a manner where our products will be acceptable in the international market.

They are already being accepted. Go to UK, Holland, Turkey and other countries, you would meet products of MAN, Oron. Poor funding “We still have problem of funding. But, you cannot expect a government with so much pressure from other sectors of economy to sufficiently fund the academy.

The needs of MAN, Oron are enormous, but the little we receive, we manage it judiciously. I don’t know whether you are aware that our main source of income is from NIMASA. NIMASA gives MAN, Oron, five percent (5%) of its revenue. Whatever NIMASA gets, is what is remitted to us. DG of NIMASA told us recently that the fall in the price of oil has affected the economy of NIMASA. You cannot expect NIMASA alone to fund the Academy.

If the revenue of NIMASA reduces, it means our statutory five percent is affected. “The second source of our funding comes through statutory budgetary allocation, and it is always very small.

But in as much as it is inadequate, there is nothing we can do about it because government has so much financial demands from various agencies, departments, parastatal of government and other institutions.

“What is important is for the academy to make prudent use of the available resources, and we are making very judicious use of the little amount released to us. I must commend NIMASA and the federal government.

We are using this medium to appeal to private and multi-national institutions/organisations as well as other well meaning Nigerians to also assist in the funding of MAN, Oron.

“In some foreign countries, corporate bodies contribute money for the funding and development of maritime institutions. I encourage our people to borrow a leaf from these countries.

As earlier mentioned, since these allied industries intend to reap positive dividends from the academy through its cadets, they must contribute to the funding of the Academy.

“Without the existence of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, all these indigenous and multinational oil companies cannot boast of qualified and competent skilled manpower in their organisations.

I am calling on Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other oil companies to come to the aid of the academy. The management team “The Rector is a very hard working man, who believes in leaving the academy better than he met it.

Management staff works as a team to achieve result. You need to be present in their management meeting and the level of composition of the management team would impress you.

I see transparency, teamwork spirit between the Rector and the management staff. “The academy is now a place where all staff work with smiles on their faces as a result of the leadership style of the Rector.

Therefore, those who passed a vote of confidence on his administration are not doing so in error. What the Rector has achieved thus far are eloquent testimony and confirmation of an achiever, versed with vast knowledge in maritime industry. What we have at MAN, Oron is all round development.

The Rector has instituted a monthly Solemn Assembly to seek the face of God over the affairs of the Institution and his staff. There is a weekly jogging exercise to ensure staff and cadets are physically and spiritually sound, while regular workshop and training to sharpen the mental alertness of the staff has been put in place.

“Throughout our stay in the academy for this past two years, I have not experienced or witnessed any protest from management staff of the academy, or from the community against the Rector.

It is an impression that the Rector is doing well, and he is working harmoniously with the staff in the overall development of the Academy. I am an advocate of team work, so the Council is impressed with the Rector and we have given him a pat on the back”. Award of degrees “It is not all Maritime Institutions in the world that award degrees.

But most of them are heading towards that. What are they training? For us at MAN, Oron, we are training middle class workers, lower class workers and higher-class workers.

But let me quickly inform you, that the most needed workers in the maritime industry now are the middle-level manpower. You don’t need to have a degree in the maritime industry before you can be useful.

But the federal government is working relentlessly towards making MAN, Oron a degree-awarding Institution. Since MAN, Oron is a very technical institution that trains and nurtures Seafarers in line with Standard of Training Certification and Watch keeping (STCW), the academy is not just like any other institution or polytechnic.

It is a specialized institution. The Certificate of Competence (COC) that is required makes the academy different from other institutions. If, we, therefore, want to transform the academy to degree-awarding status, we would not only follow the National University Commission (NUC) model, we will equally follow the accepted global model that combines Certificate, National Diploma, Higher National Diploma with Degree.

These segments produce low, middle and high level manpower, respectively, for the maritime industry. “Not everybody can pilot an Ocean bound vessel. So, a man or woman needs adequate training and certificate given to be qualified to navigate ocean-going vessel.

In the same manner, a person who has ND or HND, he or she will need to go for sea practice, which is called sea time experience as well as acquire Certificate of Competence (COC) before he or she can pursue a degree.

Even after getting a degree, what is more important to him or her, is the Certificate of Competence, which is what enables him or her to go to sea because the COC has international acceptance.

The COC is renewed every six months. “It will interest you to know that the degree a Seafarer holds may not be so valued, but that cannot happen without the Certificate of Competence.

This is because the IMO’s convention makes it mandatory for the Certificate of Competence to be accepted beyond our shores whether it is Africa, Asia among others. “Also, what the degree will do for the holder on the other hand is to help the holder in other aspects of maritime education and training.

For instance, at the World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden, emphasis is placed on Standard of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), maritime education and training. At World Maritime University, maritime education and training has its own language.

“The Academy is also bigger than some universities in this country. We have enormous facilities and when the federal government is ready, it will promulgate it a degree awarding institution.

The Governing Council and the Management cannot declare MAN, Oron a degree awarding institution. “We’ve been training and retraining our staff. Some of them have been trained overseas. Some are still there and many would be sent for more training. Some are within Nigerian renowned universities.

This arrangement is done to ensure that our cadets are well equipped with various skills to develop the maritime industry. “Nigerians are beginning to be more knowledgeable and informed about Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron.

Three years ago, much was not heard about MAN, Oron in terms of its usefulness to the nation’s maritime industry and achievements. But today, the Rector, Joshua Okpo and the Governing Council led by my humble self have upped the ante of performance and quality service delivery in the Academy.

“We have raised the bar of quality Maritime Education. Nigeria is highly recognized in the global maritime industry, courtesy the effort of the current Management and the Governing Council.

That is why Mr. President and all relevant stakeholders in the Maritime Industry should encourage Okpo to do more, since it is often said that one good turn, deserves another”.


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