Eromosele Abiodun

Stakeholders in the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, have vowed to resist the federal government’s perceived plan to frustrate the emergence of Mr. Ante Mkpandiok as the rector of the institution.

Sources at the institution alleged that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amachi, deliberately nominated a retired army major, who later became an academic, Prof. Eminue Okon, as his anointed candidate for the job, “to spite the academy community.”
The aggrieveed Oron stakeholders, comprising individuals, groups and elders claimed that the nomination of Okon

was designed to effectively stop Mkpandiok, who is the Registrar of the academy from emerging as Rector, a development they said was in bad faith and therefore unacceptable.

They stressed that it was a ploy by the minister to divide the Oron people, promote anger, hatred and acrimony.
Angered by the report, an Oron youth leader, Ekpenyong Ekpo said Amaechi is merely seeking ways to discredit his people to get the excuse to side-line those who have risen to the appropriate positions from becoming rectors of the 40 year old academy.

He alleged that Amaechi had openly disparaged Oron people in public, vowing to ensure no Oron is appointed rector of the academy.
Ekpo stated that in order to achieve that, the transportation minister has erected all kinds of landmines on the path of the stand-in-rector, an eminent Oron man and most senior officer of the academy from becoming the substantive rector.

He pointedly accused the minister of running the affairs of the academy from Abuja as he embargoed all financial transactions and detailed officials from the ministry to the academy to probe the less than 30 days stewardship of Mkpandiok.

Ekpo, who warned that they will not allow politicians to continue to divide the people of the area, said: “Let me tell you, the transportation minister said he would prefer a northerner to be rector of the academy. He was in Uyo, he came for the ministerial town hall meeting and he said if he has his way, no Oron man will be rector of the academy. We don’t know what Oron people did to him. We are a peaceful people and we are happy the academy is sited here.

“It is almost 40 years now, Oron has not produced the rector, what is our sin? Before Ishiodu died, the registrar who is an Oron indigene was acting as the number two most senior officer. Ishiodu relinquished his powers to him pending when he is fit to get back. Unfortunately Ishiodu died. He does not want Oron man to get to the office, so he has brought out Okon to cause confusion, to cause anger and hatred and to cause quarrelling and fighting, that is what the minister is scheming to do just so he can fulfil his desire to side-line Oron people from getting to that office.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the transportation minister on the issues proved abortive as telephone calls made to the ministry’s Director of Press, Mrs. Yetunde Osunaike were not answered. She did not also respond to SMS message sent to her.
The academy’s Head, Public Relations, Mr. Siddi Mkpandiok said he was unable to comment on the issue.
“My brother I don’t work in the transport ministry and so I don’t know what is going on there. Our registrar/acting rector went to Abuja, but I am not sure if I can link it with the issues you talked about, that is all I can say, he said.