After years of dilly-dally, intrigue and power play, the federal government has concluded arrangements to upgrade the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa-Ibom State to a maritime university.
The move effectively seals the fate of the controversial Nigeria Maritime University, Ekerengho, in Warri, Delta State.
THISDAY checks revealed that the development is awaiting official pronouncement as the minister of transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi in collaboration with presidential think-tank wrapped up the matter last week, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s endorsement of the plan.
Although deliberations about MAN transition into a maritime university has been in the front burner in recent years. Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration established the apparent ill- fated Nigeria Maritime University Ekerengho, in the twilight of his administration.
Both the Chief Press Secretary, to the Minister of Transportation, Mrs Yemi Shonaike and the academy’s spokesman Mr. Sidi Mkpandiok declined to comment on the development.
Meanwhile, a former aide to a one time rector of the academy, Pastor Nseyen Ebong who does not want his name in print because he was not authorised to speak on the development, said he has no reason to doubt government decision, even though he was not categorical about whether the academy was in the know.
According to him, “I am not the public relations officer; I am talking to you because of our relationship. We have been expecting the transformation. If our leaders were sincere and purposeful, this matter should have taken place even before Ebong served out his second term. “
He added: “Now Buhari is the man to walk away with the glory, God has a way of directing the affairs of men. At last, Nigeria is going to get somewhere significant with issues of maritime manpower development.
“But I hope the president and transport minister are not planning to jump the gun, this is an all important academic programme that must pass through necessary checks and transition framework. I am saying for the transition to be purpose driven and robust, a steering transition arrangement required to set the structure that will lead to the eventual take off of the maritime university proper.”
Asked what the composition and task of the steering arrangement should be, he said: “It is not my place to define; all I am saying is that there is no way a transition arrangement can be avoided under the circumstances. I guess Mr. President and Transportation Minister are up to the task, which requires effective consultation and harnessing of essential inputs.
“I also think that the process should not be just Abuja thing, government must involve stakeholders, while a competent officer with proven experience, capability and track record from within the academy is appointed to lead the transition. There is no gain saying that an insider is better suited to embark on critical guided tour of the old structure and forms, help to plot all essential connectivity, quickly identify windows in addition to galvanising local resources and assisting government to identify grass root support.”