Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Presidency has been urged to wade into the tension now being mounted at the premier Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron in Akwa State over the replacement of the administration of the institution.
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi had on September 6, 2017 in Abuja inaugurated a six-man Interim Management Committee (IMC) to oversee the running of the Academy.
Besides the Interim Management Committee, the Minister also appointed Commodore Duja Effedua, a Delta State indigene, as Rector for the Academy to replace the acting Rector, Dr. Mkpandiok Ante Mkpandiok, who hails from Oron, Akwa Ibom State and had acted in that capacity since July, 2016.
Since the appointment of the new administration, tension is mounting in the Academy as the development is generating controversy, ill-feelings and tension amongst stakeholders and members of the Academyâ€™s host communities.
For peace to be achieved in the school, President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to direct the Minister of Transportation to suspend the â€œpurportedâ€ Interim Management Committee as its composition is unfair, illogical, overbearing and unilateral and allow the status quo to remain.
Stakeholders under different groups yesterday held a joint press conference in Oron local government area of the state and described the recent appointment of the administrators of the institution as political.
Among the groups that attended the briefing were the Oron Nation Patriotic Elders Forum, led by Chief Okwong Effiakedoho Antai and Offong Asukwo Ekpaha as Chairman and secretary respectively; Forum of Non-indigenes, led by Yakubu Umar as President, Wale Adekunle as Secretary and Chukwuma Obiora as Director of Media.
Others that at the forum were Concerned Youth Advocacy Group of Oron, led by its President, Mr. Joseph Attah and Pastor Anthony Uweh as Secretary.
The protesters expressed their displeasure over the development and asked for immediate intervention of the presidency to avert crisis in the premier Academy.
They warned that the enduring patience and peaceful dispositions of stakeholders of the Academy should not be taken for granted, stressing that Oro person and by extension Akwa Ibom indigene deserves the port-folio as Rector of the Academy at this time for justice and peace to prevail.
They expressed shock and dismay over what it described as â€œmischievous scheming, nepotism, politicking and highhandedness that saw the tactical humiliation of the acting Rector, Dr. Mkpandiok Mkpandiok.
The stakeholders described Mkpandiok administration as very creditably having addressed critical management issues as well as other grievances facing the general development of the school.
They expressed regret that since the establishment of MAN, Oron in 1977, no Akwa Ibom indigene of Oro extraction had ever been appointed a substantive Rector of the Academy.
Worst still, it was observed that even those found in conditional capacities as Registrars had either been made to work in the worst conditions imaginable or forced out of office prematurely by cabals who never wished Oro Nation well
The recalled: â€œThe First registrar of the Academy from Oro Nation, Mr. Oboho O. Oboho, was included in the downsizing of 1994; Mr. Effiong Okon Essang from the host Community was wrongly accused by Engr. I. O. Akinsoji and murdered under mysterious circumstances while on official duty; Engr. Okon Edward Bassey, was rubbished out of office after acting for only one year as acting rector; Mrs. M.P. Esin was denied the post of Bursar and she died mysteriously while in active service; and Mrs. Veronica E. Etim was removed from office after acting as rector for one week.
â€œWe feel this must stop or they would be tempted to think otherwise. That while awaiting the take-off of the proposed Federal University of Maritime Studies, the current Management team of MAN, Oron, headed by Dr. Mkpandiok Mkpandiok as acting Rector, should be allowed to midwife the transitional processes pending the commencement of university programmes when a substantive Vice Chancellor shall have been appointed
The stakeholders called on Amaechi to desist from forcing his interest on the Academy and the people of Akwa Ibom State.
The said: â€œIt is unlikely that peace shall soon return to the Academy if necessary and prompt steps were not taken by those concerned to resolve these issues.
â€œAlthough the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron could be said to have recorded a measure of successes, the institution has been endangered by enormous and condonable challenges that have made it a laughable stock and source of constant criticisms when compared with intuitions of its kinds elsewhere established about the same time.
â€œIt is therefore expected that the federal government in particular will do the needful in effectively and satisfactorily handling the present crisis.â€